The day my heart stopped twice!

Jakkie writes……..


So this is what happened.

The day started on a rather an unusual note. Firstly I was up at 6am UNHEARD of, but seeing as the trucks were roaring past every 5 minutes all night, I didn’t get much sleep anyway, also we had planned to get an early start so that we could be by the coast by lunch time.

No sooner had we left our overnight roadside rest stop on this misty dawn morning, somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Queensland, then it all happened. The road was empty and quiet, but suddenly we saw flashing lights ahead of us and approaching in our direction. Behind the flashing lights there was something that looked like a house on wheels approaching us rather rapidly, taking up two lanes, one of those lanes being ours!

The flashing lights got nearer which we soon discovered belonged to a police car and before we knew it, the police car was adjacent to us and a then a burley looking police man leant out of his car window and yelled at us,’GET OFF THE ROAD NOW!!” There was a large ditch on the left of us, so we couldn’t pull over unless our large RV and us plummeted head first down it. The house on wheels was hurtling towards us on our side of the road and all of a sudden my life flashed in front of me before I then went into the crash position.

We swerved and it missed us by I swear and millimetre!! The house on wheels was in fact…. a house on wheels!! They do that here in Australia, literally move house from one location to another.

So that was the first shock of the morning, the second shock came a few hours later.

We pulled into Glenden for a quick break, and it was here that we had an opportunity to put some diesel in the tank as we were quarter full. The fuel was very expensive, so Glen made the decision to wait until the next town about 60km away. ‘Do we have enough to get us there?’ I asked, ‘Plenty’, Glen replied, so off we went on our way. 50km later we ran out of petrol and our beloved dreamtime spluttering out of life.


I was not happy!!

I insisted Glen got on his bike and cycle the next 10km into the next town to get us some fuel. With his tail between his legs, off he pedalled.

Suddenly the world was unbearably quiet, just the sound of the screeching cicadas and a very wide empty searing hot space, and me. I twiddled my thumbs for a bit, breathing in the hot dusty air that burnt the back of my throat, then after a few more minutes of the silence, I decided I’d had enough! (Patience has never been my strongest point!) I felt the need to take control of the situation, to get my power back, after all Glen could be gone HOURS searching for fuel. So I got out of the furnace of a van and stuck my thumb out to hitch. I had previously observed that every 10 minutes or so, a 4 wheel drive would pass, usually with a boat in tow and a happy family of kids in the back looking forward to a weekend away by the coast. It was safe I reckoned to get a lift with one of those.

The next car that came along was this loud, rusty, beat up old Ute that I could hear before I could see. This wasn’t the sort of car I wanted a lift from, so I withdrew my thumb, looked up at the the sky and pretended I was admiring the birdlife (or something). Phew, the car drove past in a puff of loud exhaust smoke and I let out a big sigh of relief. However a few seconds later, I heard in the distance the car stop then get louder as it was obviously heading back in my direction. This time there was nowhere to hide. The car stopped in front of me, and a very wild looking man with frizzy long grey hair leant out of the window (which had no glass in) and he yelled, ‘You alright darlin?’

‘Yes Yes’ I said with my best fake smile, ‘We’ve run out of petrol and my HUSBAND has gone to get more fuel, so no problems’ I said with a cheery wave.

‘But the next town is 10km away, how’s he gettin there?’ He asked. ‘On his bike’ I replied.

‘Storming! What sort of motor bike? he asked. ‘ push bike’, I replied. He frowned and said, ‘But he’ll be ages darlin, why don’t I give you a lift and pick him up on the way as I’m heading in that direction’. My smile faded, I heard myself gulp very loudly, ‘Um, OK then’ I heard myself saying,  yet inside I was screaming NO NO NO not with you!!! You look like an axe murderer and not like a nice family man taking his kids to the coast.’ But before I knew it he had opened his passenger door and was beckoning me in. I peered through his rusty old door to see what looked like a junk yard inside. There were old wheels, tool boxes, even and old kitchen sink, but it was the mattress laid at the back which felt very disconcerting. He realised there was nowhere for me to sit as his tool box and extra piles of junk took up the entire front seat, so he motioned for me to climb over the front seat and into the back where his grubby mattress and old tyres lay. Somehow I managed to lever myself face forward into the back and off he rattled with me very terrified in the back.

He nattered on and on about himself as I sat wide eyed and startled behind him. His name was Vladimir and he was from Russia. For the next 10km all I heard were words like, ‘Communist bastards’ and ‘Revolution’ and ‘Killings’ and ‘I used to be a Lawyer you know’. I was making the right noises of interest, but inside I was planning my escape route just incase he took me down a dark alley and…………, no that didn’t bare thinking about so I said a prayer and trusted this was all meant to be and all would be well.

I have never been so relieved to see a very sweaty cyclist in the distance peddling like a mad thing, so I yelled to Vladimir. STOP, there he is!! Half expecting Vladimir to hurtle past Glen with a devilish glint in his eye, but he instead he slowed down and hooted to Glen who was then wondering why on earth some tramp in a beat up old Ute wanted his attention. When I saw Glen peer into see me curled up in the back amongst old tyres, I had to giggle (mostly with sheer relief).

So this is my lesson. NEVER judge a book by its cover. Vladimir turned out to be an angel in disguise. Not only did he give Glen and I a lift to the nearest diesel station, but he put the bike on the roof of his car and then he gave us a lift all the way back to our stranded van. He also just so happened to be a diesel mechanic and told us how to bleed the tank of air before we re-started the van to avoid air pockets. After the re-fuel from the newly purchased billy can, the van chugged back to life. We shook hands with our Russian angel and off he rattled into the distance with a wave and a smile.

Another lesson I learnt is to NEVER trust Glen again with calculating our next fuel stop!

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