The open road is a place where you can spend many hours simply unwinding from the day-to-day routine back home.
Yet last weekend I hated being on the road.
The nightmare started the day before the trip. I had such a nightmare of about the day that the packing, filling up and departure were all rushed; and I didn’t get to sleep as long as I’d hoped before leaving.
However, a few hours into the journey and I was starting to get into my travelling rhythm. The freezing night was about to give way to dawn and I settled in to do some daytime driving. I reached for my dark glasses only to discover that one lens had popped out of the frame. RATS!
Minutes later a warning light flashed on the dashboard - my car was overheating and I had to stop immediately! DOUBLE RATS! I wasn’t too worried though; I had “Roadside Assistance”, and I confidently dialled the number and COLONY OF RATS! I soon learned that “Roadside Assistance” was more like “Casual Roadside Suggestions”.
“Just call a tow truck, find a garage, and we will reimburse your expenses in due time” is not what you want to hear when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere.
However, several prayers and one miracle later, I was driving again after an hour. I was driving tentatively, but at least I was making forward momentum again. The worry of overheating, the bright sun, and being without my dark glasses meant that I was driving even slower than usual, and my passengers would frequently hop out, pick flowers and jog alongside the car to stretch their legs.
Just when I thought that things were finally settling down I hit heavy traffic as I got to the Olifantskop Pass on the N10. Frustrated, I followed the slow-moving column until our procession came around a bend where a buck was casually standing on the side of the road.
The cars ahead of me drove by slowly and I followed very slowly.
I think I heard the buck shout: “Sucker!” as he leaped forward and butted my car, putting a healthy series of dents and scratches along the side. He then ran off chuckling to himself.
Naturally I was not impressed.
A day later, on the way back to Kimberley, the GPS took us on such a detour that I had to fill up in a town that the residents hadn’t even heard of. An ambulance driver I spoke to at the service station warned me about the kudu activity on the road and I decided to take it even easier than usual. Other drivers were still playing their game called “blind your fellow road user”, a game I honestly don’t understand.
However, when I reflected on the perfect storm of a terrible trip I wondered had I not been delayed on the road, and my dark glasses were OK, would I have missed the slow traffic on the pass, and could my meeting with the buck ended differently? Had I not run low on fuel and spoken to the ambulance driver, would I perhaps have been more interested in getting home quickly and could there have been a kudu with my name on it out on that dark road from the obscure town?
At times, it seems, there can be valuable lessons in our frustrations.
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