Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Car Space

The people of this town are used to driving long distances, used to driving in tough conditions, used to driving every day. But they are not used to driving in tight spaces. The roads here, even the back residential streets, are wide enough for a Rodeo ute to do a U-turn (maybe I’m exaggerating, but the roads are wide). This is apparently necessary because most people believe that their cars are several metres wide.

If there is a car parked on the curb, leaving oh, say 10 metres of free space next to it, most drivers will veer across to the other side of the road to make doubly sure that they clear it. Cars coming in the opposite direction will wait patiently and only drive forward once the other car has cleared that unnatural obstacle. And it’s ok, because nobody here is in a hurry.

Compare this to the city, where they cram in as many lanes as possible, cars park so that they take up half a lane, everybody does 60-70km/hr and cars miss each other by millimetres (or not). A certain relative of mine was driving in the city on her learner’s permit, concentrating hard so that the cars on her right didn’t clip her. Her passengers noticed a strange clunking noise, and after searching the car and turning off the radio, somebody finally looked out the window. In her effort to avoid oncoming traffic, she had been clipping the mirrors of all the parked cars to her left ... clunk, clunk, clunk, not missing a one.

Stories like this inevitably make it back to these country towns and become legend, and I believe this explains everybody’s wariness of parked cars. I can’t think of a better explanation.

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