Life in the big smoke

Dianne Dempsey | Bendigo Weekly | 12-Oct-2017


Without meaning to sound like a total dotard (yes Donald you’re not the only one) as the years go by I find it more difficult to negotiate the city traffic. 

OK, I freak out, grip the steering wheel tightly, perspire (I’m a lady) and have kittens.

Oh yes, I also shut my eyes.

Last time I was in the “Big Smoke” I found myself in a hook turn at a major


Utterly terrified I rang up my son and told him about my predicament.

“Mum,” he said,” listen carefully, whatever you do don’t shut your eyes.”

“Got it, yes, got it. Don’t shut eyes.”

“OK now when the lights turn red then you go.”

“Oh no,” I said. “That can’t be right. Green is for go, red you stop. Everyone knows that darling.”

“Mum are there any other cars in front of you? Just follow them when they turn.”

Here I paused to allow the gravitas of the situation sink in.

“I’m the first in the line.”

I knew I had to move when drivers started  tooting at me and tram drivers clanged their bells. 

Desperate, I put my arm out of the window and wildly pointed in the direction I wanted to go and went for it. 

And yes, of course I shut my eyes.

So far so good. All I had to do now was find a car park. 

I hate multi-level carparks and I am always reminded of the news story of an elderly couple who killed themselves in one. 

The poor chap obviously thought he had put his car in reverse but instead he went forwards, very fast and drove over the building’s edge, nose diving 10 floors to the ground below. 

I can drive up the multi-levels OK, that’s no problem, although one time I drove my car into the attendant’s booth before starting up the ramps. 

So there I was going up and up and up the ramps until I finally found a park on level eight which I carefully noted on my ticket.

Upon my return to the building I took the stairs until I got to level eight, looked around for my car but couldn’t find it. 

Not good, not good at all. 

I walked down to the next level and the next and the next but still no car. 

Now I felt like the Seinfeld characters in the Parking Garage episode, only this wasn’t funny. 

I would indeed grow old here, eventually crawl under a car, curl up and die. 

It was at that desperate point that I looked up and noticed a strange phenomenon.

Every single floor level was called number eight. 

Now I thought I was in the movie Being John Malkovich. Strange. 

I took off my sunglasses and looked closer. 

There were some letters after the 8. Yes, the sign actually said 8km/h.    

I won’t inflict you with the details of how the boom gate wouldn’t open when I finally found my car and tried to get out. 

I won’t tell you about the machine that kept rejecting my ticket or the angry drivers behind me. 

Or the disembodied voice that told me to “turn the credit card upside down lady” and try again. 

All I can tell you is that hitting the Calder was bliss. I was heading home and I knew the way.

 – Dianne Dempsey 


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