My mother, the overtaker
500 words: Car Stories
My mother came to driving later in life. I was 12 when she got her licence and I can still remember the day she passed the test and excitedly showed the family her P-plates.
When Mum became a driver, Dad (a motor mechanic by trade) bought a 1962 XP Ford Falcon that needed a bit of work. He fixed it and sprayed it a bright orangey baby poo colour – it was the 70s after all.
One long weekend, we took the Ford on holidays with us to the Central Coast. Our 21 year old cousin was visiting from overseas. He was keen to go to the beach so mum offered to drive my cousin, my younger brother and sister and myself.
It was a stinking hot day. The one-lane road leading to the beach was bumper-to-bumper. Kids were hanging out windows, whilst frazzled looking mum and dad drivers resisted the urge to clamp their hands on their car horns and keep them there.
Mum stayed in the line of traffic with all the other cars until she hit upon a brilliant idea.
No one was using the verge on the left, so she diligently put on her left blinker and pulled out onto it. She then started to make her way, slowly forward, from the end of the queue, creeping past each car waiting in the line.
We had gotten past quite a few cars. With our windows wound down and the relief of finally moving, things were going pretty well for us. That is until we heard a loud, booming voice saying “Don’t let that woman in the orange car in! Don’t let the orange car in!”
Someone in the line of cars we were overtaking was using his CB radio as a public address system and was urging the other drivers in the queue not to let us back into the line of traffic.
Mum, of course, was totally oblivious to what was going on.
I slunk down in my seat. I cringed with shame and embarrassment.
“Mum!” I hissed, “He’s talking about us!”
“What? What about us?” asked Mum, innocently. She really had no idea.
“He’s telling everybody not to let us in!” I spat.
Maybe they hadn’t covered this in the driving lessons she’d taken, I thought.
Mum kept driving slowly, trying to get back into the line of traffic. But the cars had heeded “The Voice” and had moved closer together, blocking us from the queue.
Eventually, a fellow driver took pity on us and let us in. We did eventually get to the beach.
Even though this incident seems very funny now, many decades later, I still remember it as my first memory of public humiliation. I’m happy to say my mother wasn’t traumatised by the experience, but I definitely was!