Three man mountains piled into my car and we were off. As we neared the exit I spotted an old friend. No. Freaking. Way. Alejandro strolled casually by the roadside with a woman under each arm. They were both in hysterics at whatever he was telling them. Who knew I would have been better off Ubering home the promiscuous three over the Rugby boys. My night was about to take a turn for the worse.
Part II: Is Paul Kelly Offensive?
“To the Woollahra Hotel!” Announced Johnny with great enthusiasm from the front seat. The boys, although smelling like a brewery, were still thirsty and keen to kick on after ladies day at the rugby club.
“How maggot was Nicko?!” Chuckled Matty, my passenger in the rear passengers’ side seat. Johnny chimed in with classic one-liners about Nicko’s reputation as a lightweight, “ Ha! Bloody two-can Sam! Piss poor effort from Nicko!”
We continued toward the Woollahra Hotel when Johnny discovered gold. “Fellas, you won’t bloody believe it!” He exclaimed as he turned to face his friends with an animated grin.
“What?! What have you done?” replied Macca, the big fella sitting behind me.
“Mr. Uber has an AUX cord. YOU.LITTLE.BEAUTY!” Bellowed Johnny like a man possessed as he reached into my centre console to retrieve the cord.
The collective groans from the backseat suggested Johnny was renowned for his taste, or to the contrary, lack of taste in music.
“You don’t mind do ya champ?” Asked Johnny as he tapped me on the shoulder with the back of his hand.
“As long as you’re not playing Pitbull or Kesha,” I replied, much to the amusement of my passengers. I had used the same joke at least ten times that week so I knew it was safe for a cheap laugh.
“You fellas ready for some real music?” Said Johnny as he scrolled furiously through Spotify on his phone.
“Let me guess, you’re putting on some of your lame country music?” Groaned Matty.
“You’ve really got no idea have ya mate?” Replied Johnny, completely engrossed by his phone. “Ahhh! Here it is. An Australian bloody legend!”
As Paul Kelly’s, “Dumb Things” blasted from my stereo I looked over at Johnny and nodded in approval. Paul Kelly IS a bloody Australian legend and I instantly felt the music move through my body causing my fingers to start tapping on my steering wheel.
Johnny was in his element as he moved from playing the air guitar to the air harmonica to the air drums. His energy was infectious. I shot a quick glance in my rear vision mirror and saw Matty and Macca clicking their fingers and moving to the music.
Johnny knew every single word. The fellas in the back, just a few. This resulted in a brilliant call and response harmony from front to back seat:
Back seat: In the middle, in the middle, in the middle of a dream!
Front seat: I lost my shirt, I pawned my rings!
Together: I’ve done all the dumb things!
I was having a f#!king ball! This is why I love being an Uber driver. It is the unexpected moments, the people bursting with life, and the colourful stories I take home with me, that keep me coming back. Little did we know, the flashing lights at the top of the hill in Double Bay would kill our jubilant mood in an instant.
As we rounded the corner, the flashing lights grew brighter. A policeman stood on the edge of the road ushering cars to fall into line for a random breath test. I wasn’t concerned, I hadn’t been drinking, but for some reason, I always feel nervous when I see an RBT on the roadside. My band of merry men in the car hadn’t even noticed the RBT as they continued their Paul Kelly medley. An acoustic version of, “Before Too Long”, was a nice change of pace and an opportunity for Johnny to show off the versatility of his voice. I breathed a sigh of relief as I drove slowly past the policeman choosing his RBT targets.
My car was stationary, halfway up the hill and adjacent to the RBT, as we waited for the lights to change. Then it happened……
“TAP TAP TAP!” The sound of loud tapping on my bonnet caused me to jump. I looked up to the front of my car and saw a police officer standing there, and he didn’t look happy. I thought maybe I was a late entrant in the RBT lottery, apparently not.
“TURN IT DOWN AND SHUT UP!” The office roared through gritted teeth. My stomach immediately dropped at this abrupt show of aggression from the officer.
“No worries at all,” I said politely with a smile as I immediately turned off the stereo. The rugby boys stopped singing as the policeman stalked the passenger side of my car, glaring at my new friends like they had just killed a puppy.
The rugby boys could see the funny side as Matty said under his breath, “Get a load of this guy. Captain angry.”
As the lights turned green and I went to drive off, five simple words would change the course of my night. Matty, with a beaming smile on his face, looked out his window and said to the policeman, “How good is Paul Kelly?” The officer was incensed by this fairly innocuous comment. His eyes bulged and shoulders tensed as he again stormed to the front of my car.
“RIGHT!” He barked ferociously. “PULL THE CAR OVER!!!! NOW!!!!!!!”
“What the f#!k?” Said Johnny as he looked at me in disbelief.
“Don’t worry mate,” I said reassuringly. “I’m sure it will be fine.”
I pulled the car over to the side of the road and sat with bated breath as the officer marched around to my window.
The policeman was about fifty years old. He was tall, around 6ft 2’, and slender. I will never forget his face. Miniature eyes, about the size of 5 cent pieces, bulged from their sockets from beneath his furrowed brow. His mouth, which held two rows of tiny baked-bean like teeth, was so tight and small It was no wonder he had a permanent scowl of contempt for his fellow man.
“It’s amazing how your mates can really stuff up your night isn’t it?!” Snarled the officer as he glared down at me.” “License…. NOW!” He yelled, causing me to jump again.
I reached into my wallet and handed over my license as the policeman prepared his breathalyzer. I heard Macca say quietly from the backseat, “This bloke can’t be serious can he?”
I counted to ten in the breathalyzer and returned a negative reading.
“You’re not really going to give me a ticket are you?” I asked the policeman sheepishly. He didn’t reply but instead shot me this look that said, “Shut it bucko! Or I’ll do more than give you a ticket!” I held his stare for a moment before looking away.
The policeman handed me back my license after copying down my details. I would be receiving a fine for $200, including the loss of two demerit points for “emitting offensive noise from a motor vehicle.”
I was deflated. My new found friends were as shattered as I was. Matty in the backseat even gave me his business card and offered to pay the fine when I received it, but it wasn’t his fault. I dropped the boys off at the Woollahra Hotel to continue their night. I decided to head home a little early. I breathed a deep sigh and turned on the radio. You won’t believe it…..Triple M was playing Paul Kelly’s, “Dumb Things.” I couldn’t help but smile and shake my head as I headed home.