I was driving down the Pacific Highway. Sitting in bumper to bumper morning traffic on my way to the office. Sipping on my coffee. Listening to Tony, Bec & Mikey on Vega 95.3FM & having a good giggle at their antics.
The car in front of me pulled into the left lane and that's when I saw it. It's very shape stopping my heart. The lowered suspension. The extra large silver Toyota badge. The tinted windows. The aftermarket light fittings. A flash of detail and a sharp intake of breath.
I wish I could put into words the irrational fear that this vehicle brought rushing to my conciousness. My back stiffened. My hands tightened on the steering wheel and I instinctively reached over to check that my door was locked. It took me a couple of minutes to compose myself. But I was very happy that it turned off soon after my little "moment".
Scott had a similar experience a little while back. He went down to the basement parking one morning, stepped out of the lift and it was pitch black - not even a sliver of light. He said his instincts just took over and he pressed the "close door" button repeatedly and went back up to the flat. In that fleeting moment, he was convinced that some tsotsi's had cut the lights so that they could rob him when he came out of the lift. I couldn't believe his over-reaction until I saw this "taxi" in front of me in the traffic.
But what these few minutes of fear really highlighted for me was that without even realising it, I have completely embraced the safety of life here in Australia (and no, it's not percieved safety - it's actual safety!).
I suppose some psychologist would call both Scott's and my reaction a symptom of "post traumatic stress syndrome". But then neither of us were ever directly involved with the sort of violent crime/gratuitous violence that some unfortunate South Africans are. But it seems that just living with the threat of it on a daily basis can have a lasting mental/emotional effect.
Australia isn't perfect, but I feel safe here. I like that.
Scott was actually commenting the other day about how chilled out I am here. The car we bought isn't going to be ready for a few weeks - he wanted to blast the salesman. I told him to chill, it meant that we wouldn't have to pay for the car for a few extra weeks - more money for us to save in the meantime. No worries. Our container won't be here in time for my folks' visit.... Oh well, we'll just have to sleep on the blow up mattress for a week. No worries. FNB couldn't get their A into G and sort our internet banking out. Scott wanted to blow them out of the water! I handled it, got it sorted, no shouting, just being nice. No worries, mate. Oh, and no more road rage! I drive the speed limit. I stop when the traffic light is orange instead of speeding thru as it turns red. I think the most stress I have on the roads is directed at my TomTom GPS who couldn't direct a jumbo jet down a straight runway!!! (I'm going back to my trusty map book.)
So anyway, that's all. Just thought I'd share this experience.