Luckily, there was no need for faking it despite never having a single lesson on how to drive. I already knew how to from observing my Mother. It’s weird because it was not a big deal to her either as she quickly pulled over to challenge me on my claim. And this was the very first time the topic came up at twelve. While driving along the country road to her part time job she just said ‘oh yeah let us see’ with an amused inquisitive look on her face. Pulling over to the side immediately and I take on the wheel for the first time.
That was Mum she knew and trusted me only with a certainty of knowledge and with certain things. I was never trusted with mixing the cakes. Don’t remember one piece of advice as I sat in the driver’s seat. I don’t know what she was thinking, her response seemed only natural to her. She already knew of my uncanny knack and quick learning soon as my attention focused on things. Getting the right things to focus on seemed to be the problem.
Looked in the revision mirror and one bunny hop later and off we went. Only luck played its part without a stall. I am sure I had rehearsed it many times jumping in the stationary driver’s seat, any opportunities of a not running car. All those times when you get the signal just wait in the car. Accelerator clutch in opposite directions and up the road 1st, 2nd, 3rd reached, and that is all the gears that the old Prefect had. Not perfectly timed clutch changes with a slight grinding of gear from first to second.
That skill almost mastered and got the feel by the time of our return journey. I used the blinkers and steered to the left, all the road rules just came natural. I’d watched and observed for so long now it was already there. This made the driver’s tests a walk in the park a couple days after 15. Bunny hopes and stalls later corrected ripping up and down the home driveway.
At thirteen but still in primary school when my parents went on holiday the mischievous child stole that car. My mates and I had had some beer and I took them straight into town joy riding. We had such fun; it was a moment of pure joy as we drove straight to the city motor camping ground. The fella’s all leapt from the moving car, grabbed the dustpan lids and used them as Frisbees. The lids were made of light steel just like Cookie monsters on Coronation Street. Sent sailing up and onto all the campervan roofs making the biggest bang crashing of a noise.
One circuit later, we race off in hysterics fast. Fast as that old car could go. Up the Selwyn street hill, half the speed limit while weighted and slowed down by five teenage boys. That packed car was like chocolate in a Jaffa. Except in this case, the outer layer is a racy metallic green. Red and blue lights flash from behind signalling the joy ride almost over and a crashed mood descends on us all. Five young teenage boys synchronize their thoughts, now we have done it. The atmosphere was pure fear and if it had been petrol with a source of ignition, it would have blown up the world.
Just like in any great movie, and to give us hope I floor it slamming the accelerator, clanging the floor chasse with a thump. There is a blur gurgling sound as the air filter sucked and was the loudest of it. From the back seat, one of the boys uneasy wrenches his body, screeching the leather and seals the moment. First a nervous chuckle followed by ‘aaaaaah jesus he’s running’, in a tense edgy voice.
The chase was over after 30 meters. I first used the blinker pulling over halfway to the top of the hill. I don’t know what we were thinking on why we thought we would get away with waking all from their sleep. Recipe for disaster, collective mad minds of village teenage boys, and the grounding to follow made sure I never stole that car ever again.
It was funny, the cops must have pissed themselves in pursuit of a racing Prefect at 10 to 15 mile an hour. I was stupid but wasn’t that silly and knew there was no escaping soon as the flashing lights lit up inside of the car. My mischievous and cheeky side was not able to withhold from a moment of pretend.
The opportunity sprung out feeling brilliant in the mind of a twelve year olds present and hearing that sound of a car with zero power used for a getaway wasn’t wasted on my memories. (Chances were my moment of pretend, went without notice by the police).
The police impounded the car until my folks returned leaving me with the longest two weeks of my life. Two weeks thinking about the trouble, I was in with my Dad. And as we sat in the holding room cell, the constable gave me a lecture I could never forget. “Why are you hanging with them, look at them, they are all older”, “they don’t even dress like you”, he said. He also spoke everything encouragingly with a smile on his face.
I think this same constable spoke to my dad and that is why I never got the full temper from him. And believe me whenever I was up to any mischief the biggest fear, sat in the darkness of my subconscious and always blasted into my front mind. My father whenever his temper riled up, had a lion’s roar that shook right through my spinal cord reaching all my nerve ends. It would rise sudden and quick, croaky and all broken in the back of his throat as his big stomach pumped, pushing out violent emotion. Need not say, that roar I was scared shitless and I don’t know of anyone who wasn’t.
I sat there in my not designer ripped jeans thinking what does he mean, do not dress like them. Seemed obvious to the police the older kids had pressured or led me into stealing my Mother’s car. The officer went on discouraging me from hanging with my friends and it made me feel for a moment, I was getting away with it. I never said anything to incriminate or lay blame on others.
Obviously, I didn’t push any point to clarify their thinking, I wisely at 13, sat there and let them think what they thought. Using silence and yes sir to play on innocence. We had been drinking but by the time of nicking the car, all of it was already consumed and luckily, I hadn’t had too much. But I was not breath aliased and that part forever remains a grateful mystery and an adventure I truly did get away with. Apart from that two weeks of course but that was all worth it in the end.
Initially while working on sites I never had any ambition, just finding work that paid enough to save and go travelling. I never liked labouring at all and easily bored lugging stuff but I did whatever I was instructed. Having a natural ability to see something using your hands or told on how something goes once and I always felt I could do it. A skill motivated selfishly either with a will to prove or if I could see a payoff for my efforts and of course if I had any real interest. In the work environment, some saw it as a competitive thing but mostly I didn’t as I knew about my passions well. The biggest competitive challenge for me was always against myself, and believing with some things I could always do better.
To be continued…
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