An Hour in the Car

I love how much thinking I can do while I’m driving. This morning I had to drive to Southport, on the Gold Coast, for a minor car repair. It was no big deal – the service department just didn’t have the part they needed when they serviced my car last week. And an hour in the car gave me quality thinking time.

The traffic wasn’t too bad, given that I allowed almost three hours to get there. And I based that on the catastrophe of an attempt to get to Southport a few weeks ago.

I had booked the car in for a service on a Friday morning. And I allowed two hours for the one hour journey because the major link between home and the Gold Coast is so unpredictable.

That didn’t end well…

The twenty minute drive along a minor road to meet the major highway was uneventful. That is, until I arrived at the juncture of the two roads. Brake-lights stretched ahead for as far as I could see. Cars in front of me were taking advantage of the gully that linked to the roundabout (traffic circle?) that would take them back in the direction they had just come. The road back also links to a detour across the range.

But not me. I thought I would stick it out. After all, experience told me that traffic-jams like this were usually short-lived. So I sat there. And waited. I phoned the Service Centre and explained I may be a little late. No problem, they assured me, just call us again at 9 o’clock if you are still stuck.

By 9 o’clock I had only just merged onto the highway. And judging by the degree of ‘stuck-ness’ I was in, I wasn’t going to get to Southport until at least lunchtime. I had no way of knowing there was a truck accident just around the bend from where I was stuck!

So I phoned back and rescheduled for the following week, which was last week. That trip only took about an hour-and-a-half. I was lucky!

Murphy’s Law?

I allowed three hours to get there today, just in case. Besides, it wasn’t a service on my car, just a simple repair. If I got there early, they could start early.

I’m beginning to wonder if Murphy’s Law has something to do with the traffic? If I allow two hours for a one-hour journey, it will take a lot longer. But if I allow three hours for the trip, there’ll be no traffic and I’ll blitz it in just over an hour.

The advantage of no traffic (or accidents) today meant I could indulge in some quality thinking time. Once I was on the dreaded highway, it was a straight drive for about 30kms to the Southport exit.

My thinking meandered through a lot of topics, but the one that had the most impact was ‘human nature’. Not the Aussie band ‘Human Nature’, the other type. You know, the one that makes seemingly sane people do crazy things.

And surprisingly, as people get older, human nature seems to kick into overdrive. I witness the idiosyncrasies of human nature on a daily basis. At its best and its worst!

At its best I see seniors living happy, productive lives long after their careers have ended. They get involved with volunteer work and are just happy, contented people.

But at its worst I see seniors who are demanding, threatening and seem to be on some sort of power trip. Luckily, the worst are a very small minority.

And that’s where the human nature element ramps up.

Were they always like that or is their behaviour a manifestation of grief?

Are they grieving lost opportunities; wrong choices; loss of career; loss of power; or even lack of power throughout their career? Were they stuck in a subordinate role when they really wanted to be the boss?

Could it be fear?

The older we get, the closer we are to sitting in our Maker’s waiting room. But there’s a big difference between sitting in the waiting room, and sitting in the waiting room with joggers on. I’ve met the ones with joggers on, ready to sprint up those stairs when they get the call. They’re the ones who want something done, yesterday! They don’t have time to wait for tomorrow. I mean, they could get that call at any time, right? Tomorrow might not come – for them… and they sure as heck don’t want to miss out on whatever it is they want you to do for them.

These people are struggling through what’s left of their life, weighed down by a huge grudge.

Who would want to do that?

Okay, that part comes down to personal choice. We can choose to be happy, or we can choose to be grumpy.

But that doesn’t give anyone the right to make everyone around them suffer, does it?

It’s like a ripple that goes through a huge pond, touching everything in its wake. Fortunately, ripples are caused by a small object impacting a wider expanse of water. If it was a large object, it would cause a tsunami-like effect.

By now you’re probably wondering why I would spend an hour in the car, thinking about ripples, tsunamis and human nature?

The answer to that question is simple.

I‘m one of the swimmers in the wider-pond, impacted by the ripples far too frequently. I just want to swim peacefully by. I don’t want to be bobbed up and down, twisted and turned – like a cork-screw in the ocean (where did that saying come from?).

But it happens.

I know it is human nature and I know some of the reasons that might contribute to it. But it doesn’t make it any easier to navigate. Especially since I chose the word ‘ignore’ as my word for 2020.

If I could just swim around the edge of the pond I could probably ignore the ripples – but I can’t. My job is to get amongst those ripples and help sort out their problems. Which I’m happy to do, as part of a bigger team. But the impatience, constant threats, accusations, and generally miserable attitudes of the ripplers are hard to ignore.

Each member of the team I’m part of is conscientious, dedicated and works tirelessly to accomodate the requests of everyone in the pond. I should have added ‘volunteer’ to that list. This isn’t a paid gig.

When volunteers are called for, the ripplers are off swanning around somewhere else. Their raised hands are conspicuously absent.

Their job, as far as they are concerned, is to sit back and throw objects into the pond. I mean, why wouldn’t you do that? It’s much easier to be an armchair critic, sitting back in your comfy position of opposition.

I reckon they’re the ones just hanging around in the waiting room of their Maker. Some are still looking for their joggers, while others have theirs well and truly strapped on.

And before I upset the Ageist Police, some of these ripplers are a lot younger than I am. They are not all ‘very-senior’ seniors, although some are.

So an hour in the car this morning unleashed a lot of thinking. Not all productive, I might add.

If I was being seriously productive, I wouldn’t have wasted the hour thinking about the problem. I would have used the hour to come up with a viable solution. But I didn’t.

So I’m still no closer to working out why human nature becomes so complex, the older we get, and what we can do about it.

But as I sit here at Taco Bell (lunching), having dispensed with the minor car repair, I wonder where my thoughts will take me on the drive home?

That highway is so unpredictable it could be more than an hour in the car, so I might have enough time to actually come up with a solution to the problem.

Maybe an hour in the car isn’t such a good thing…

Perhaps I think too much…

Maybe I could just listen to some good music instead.


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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Di Hill

    Oh, the traffic on the M!! I am so used to the longer drives because of a crash. Even getting to and from the city can be a challenge, especially on a Friday. But I usually listen to podcasts for ABC RN.

    1. Maureen

      I usually have ABC News Radio on, especially when Parliament is sitting. Question Time in Parliament is a great way to amuse myself on a long drive.
      But the day I was stuck, there wasn’t much happening on the ABC and I didn’t want to wear out the hours of music I have on my micro-USB, so I kept the radio down low, and listened to my own thoughts instead.
      I think Podcasts would have been a better option…

  2. Nancy Smith

    love it…funny where our mind goes isn’t it. I’m one of those that will crank the music, put the car in park and wait…not my husband. He’d been in that category of going through the culvert to turn back the other way. LOL

    Have a wonderful day Maureen!

    1. Maureen

      I’m with you on that, Nancy. Usually, as soon as I decide that a traffic jam is a good way to actually look at the scenery and relax, the traffic starts moving again. I think it’s Murphy’s Law in action. Although the day of the truck accident was different. We were all well and truly stuck! I managed to make a detour eventually – found a cafe – and had a coffee instead. That was my silver lining for the day. 🙂

I’ll get back to you as soon as I finish my coffee...

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