The cockpit of a rent-a-car hurtling down a Queensland freeway is a beautiful place to be, most of the time.
The roads are wide, the horizons far and the contrast with where you have come from patently clear.
You’re on holiday and the world of work is a far cry away.
You’ve picked up the wheels at the airport, satisfied yourself that most of the damage to the paintwork is pre-existing and probably won’t cost you you’re excess, and you’ve managed to hook up the bluetooth to the audio.
Talk about life being good.
But then running down that highway, looking for adventure, you miss that turn-off to where ever it was you were supposed to be going and things take a sudden turn for the worse.
Ironic really, because the car didn’t actually turn, but the occupants did. On each other. Briefly. Like feral animals.
Talk about born to be willllllllldddddd!
And not just because it was my playlist on Spotify that was blaring out Steppenwolf.
But it happens, and you have to get over it, before the car rolls. And I’m not just talking about my playlist.
Disorientation on freeways at speed can cause people to take leave of their niceness for brief moments.
Not that there’s anything personal intended by the graphically revealing utterance of “idiot” from a person you may well have considered a friend just minutes before.
Particularly as it had been you who’d worked out how to connect the iphone to the car audio to enable the epic ’70s road trip compilation you’d been storing up for just this particularly epic holiday road trip.
But next thing you know it’s smoke on the water.
And to be fair, I wasn’t sure yet if I really should have made that turn either, and so therefore, I may well be an idiot.
But you don’t have to say it, so vehemently.
Make no mistake, the cockpit of a holiday rent-a-car can get volatile.
And I don’t want to get too poetic about it, but I liken it to those close-up movies of the sun. Iridescent beauty interspersed with eruptions of gas and fury and outbursts from your Google Maps app urging you to “return to route”.
Initially it’s hard to understand what Siri, or whoever it is voicing the Google Maps app, means when they say “return to route”, because you’re pretty sure you haven’t left the route.
But these days, if the computer’s got a problem, you’ve got a problem, and usually the internet’s just dropped out, but that doesn’t stop the seed of doubt being sown.
Particularly when you’re deep inside the guitar solo from More Than A Feeling when those seven lanes of traffic from seven different highways happen to merge on you without warning.
Next thing you’re surrounded by Queensland drivers doing their best impersonation of Mad Max Fury Road. And most of those drivers are P-platers, hemming you in at 100kmh.
Why Queensland freeways don’t just make it 110kmh all the way I’ll never know. Then you realise - it’s an 80 zone. Echos of the word “idiot” resonate round the cockpit again as you grapple with the cruise control settings.
Note to idiot self: Car won’t slow down if you don’t change cruise control, Forest.
Next moment traffic conditions see you hemmed in the right lane of a four-lane autobahn and it seems you’re turn-off is coming up NOW!!! In the left lane.
Siri, or whoever it is, urges you to bear left NOW. So does your navigator.
Not that there’s any chance because you’re surrounded by Queenslanders.
Conditions are ripe for things to get a bit terse between driver, navigator and Siri.
It’s no easy skill under such circumstances trying to ascertain whether that last sign urging you to bear left meant to bear left NOW or a couple of hundred metres more.
And it’s an even more difficult skill to suck it up when whoever’s unleashed the “Idiot” call then unleashes their view on how you should have beared left NOW only to retract that shortly after and concede it’s OK if you stay in this lane.
Not that I’m listening because by this stage I realise I’m fiddling with the window wiper button and not the cruise control, thus giving graphic back-up data on why I may well be an idiot.
I know that my emotions are valid. I also know that attempt to validate them at this particular moment may take my attention off the window wipers and see me rear-end an unsuspecting P-plater.
But like all good road trips, you make your exit, and like the calm returning after the storm, AC/DC fires up, reminding you it’s not only a long way to the top, but also your destination, so start concentrating.
Next thing you know you're surrounded by Queensland drivers doing their best impersonation of Mad Max Fury Road.