Me – “I’m not listening to your awful music.”
It was early morning a few years ago and my daughter, who I was driving to the wonderful Hornswood Ladies College, dismissively rolled her eyes and put on her headphones. I was immovable on the music debate being fresh from an argument with my lovely wife, at home twenty minutes earlier.
My lovely wife – “I can’t believe your car has no petrol and you didn’t fill up last night because you were late for poker. You’ll run out now, you watch.”
My wife is from Barcelona, so she does a feisty tone even better than most Hornswood wives.
Me – “I’m not an idiot. Thank you, but I dont need fuel management advice from the person whose car is empty every single time I get in. I’ll get petrol on the way and she wont be late to school.”
My daughter’s school has a long drive that circles the oval and there’s a drop-off zone for about four cars at a time. Dropping-off before the zone is strictly forbidden, so each morning we queue. I got to the front of the zone, my daughter got out and walked away and clunk, moving one metre off the zone, the car stalled. Out of petrol.
I had another problem. Having completely forgotten about my fuel shortage immediately after having the “I’m not an idiot” conversation with my wife earlier, I’d gone to the school run, in my usual drop-off outfit – pyjamas, full-length Superman dressing gown and Ugg boots. My daughter every morning implored me to get dressed before driving her, but who in their right mind could possibly have foreseen this series of events?
The traffic was already starting to bank up behind me. I put on my hazard lights, got out and not taking my eyes off the ground, jumped into the passenger seat of the car who’d just dropped-off behind me (having already checked it was a dad, not some poor innocent mum). I’m a big bloke with a fully-fused spine and this was a tiny little sports car which for some reason had the seat moved all the way forward.
I could barely fit in and looked ridiculous with my knees squashed up against the dashboard. I desperately tried to slide the seat back to be able to close the door but couldn’t find the bar or button, due to my Superman gown getting all caught up. Eventually, I got the seat pushed all the way back and still could barely fit in.
Me – “Hi mate.” I stuck out my hand to the stranger.
The bloke (shaking my hand but understandably a bit surprised) – “You’re the worst dressed car-jacker ever”.
So Keith (cannot remember his real name, I was distracted) drove me to the petrol station and by the time we returned with a little fuel can, the place was in utter pandemonium. The queue which we had to sit in must have been a hundred cars and went all the way back to the main road. Students were having to jump out in non-drop-off sections, people were getting out of cars to see what was going on, everybody was furious and drivers were honking (and this is Hornswood Ladies College – we don’t honk), yelling out their windows as one at a time cars would squeeze past the idiot parked half-way into the drop-off zone. A true nightmare.
Keith dropped me off and I did the walk of shame to the front of the queue, holding my little fuel can up to show everybody that I am but a humble idiot, not an asshole who parks randomly in the drop-off zone. I began refueling in the midst of chaos, dressed as Superman.
Now look, I am particularly hard to embarrass, but I had truly been plunged into the gates of hell itself.
All of a sudden two dads get out of their fancy cars and approach me. Being Hornswood Ladies College, they were lawyer-looking and I assumed they were coming to help or possibly to have a bit of a laugh to aid a fellow dad in his moment of need. I was incorrect.
Blue-suited lawyer – “HOW THE HELL DO YOU LET YOURSELF RUN OUT OF PETROL HERE? HOW IRRISPONSIBLE.” He was rather mad.
Grey-suited lawyer (seething) – “I HAVE AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT DAMN MEETING THIS MORNING BUDDY!”
Me – “Well boo-freaken-hoo mate!” Up until that point I had been humiliated by the whole incident, now I was just angry.
There was no need for the lawyers to kick me while I was down. The honks and “MOVE YOUR CAR” yells continued around us.
Grey-suited lawyer (furiously) – “DIDN’T YOU CHECK YOUR DAMN PETROL BEFORE ENTERING THE SCHOOL GROUNDS??” He pointed right in my face.
Me (feeling incredibly flustered and vulnerable, but standing tall in my Superman dressing gown) – “Welllll lawyer, let me give you a few guesses to see if you can work out if I did check or not. And before you answer, I’ll give you some clues. I’m standing here in my DRESSING-GOWN, looking like a damn idiot, with a little petrol can, topping up my damn tank, with a hundred people honking me and two lawyers getting up in my damn face! Now… do you think I checked my damn petrol level???”
Blue-suited lawyer – “I’m not a lawyer.”
Me – “Lawyer is a generic term”.
Anyway, I eventually got home, my 40 minute morning drop-off having taken an hour and 40 minutes. My lovely wife was still home, ununusually.
My lovely wife – “Wow, that took you forever. The Pacific Highway traffic must be a nightmare. I was going to have another cup of coffee before I leave, but I guess I’d better get on the road if it’s that bad.”
To make my morning worse, I had plummeted into a moral quandary. My lovely wife is an accountant and works ridiculously hard. For her to be forced on to the road unnecessarily early, due to the “traffic” would be grossly unfair.
Here was a test of my character, my caliber… my very honour. I had to come clean and tell her she was right, I did forget her warning and ran out of petrol, I should have filled up last night and been late for poker, I blocked the drop-off zone of Hornswood Ladies College for an hour, caused absolute chaos, jumped into some blokes car, got him to drive me to the petrol station and back, stood there in the Superman gown she finds so disgusting and got into an argument with two lawyers. Mia culpa. The traffic is fine, relax and have another cup of coffee.
My wife – “Traffic’s a nightmare, hey?”
Me – “It… took me a reeeally long time today, Honey.” She rushed out to work. I hung my head in shame. For quite a while.
Thanks for reading. I write blogs, oftentimes simply to claim at parties much to my wife’s chagrin, that I am in fact… a writer. At other times, to allow businesses and business-people to get their message across.
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