A New Way of Coming Unstuck

This wonderful email was sent to me by a great friend of mine, Graham, telling the tale of unexpected happenings on a late night drive home.

For overseas readers : ute = utility = pickup truck.

From: Graham
Date: 27/10/06 12:59 am

It sometimes seems to me that life is a long process of learning to avoid the pitfalls. As we get older we learn to dodge gracefully around the traps that caught us out in our younger, more foolish years.

Well, today I found a new trap.

Picture Graham cruising down a suburban main road (Balcombe road in Beaumaris if it matters) in his shiny new red truck, which starts every time and doesn’t strand him in inconvenient places, even if it is rather thirsty. He’s just heading home from his parent’s place, a five minute drive, after an evening of parental IT support, and he’s feeling pretty cool. Getting stranded half way home is the last thing on his mind.

As he approaches the traffic lights at the local high school (Charman road if you must know), to turn left, (think right if you’re American), he spies a ringtail possum right in his path.

Now ringtail possums are a dime a dozen around here. Oscar the cat brought me 3/4 of a ringtail possum just last week, and many people equate them with treeborne rats, ravaging fruit trees and rosebuds. But nonetheless, I am not a man to run down a ringtail possum in cold blood. So I stop. And I wait. And I peer over my bonnet (hood) waiting to see the possum waddling along on it’s way.

But it doesn’t. It hasn’t. It’s still down there somewhere. And I am about to learn a lesson about how utes are different from hatchbacks.

It’s almost midnight. I’m halfway around the corner. There’s barely any traffic. And a possum is down there somewhere under my front wheels. So I put my hazard lights on, and I clamber out of my seat and go in search of my new friend.

The possum, who must already have been drunk, stunned or stupid to have been on the road in the first place, (rather than on a powerline or up a tree, remember Aussie possums are arborial critters) decides this is all too much and dissappears between my front wheels. I manage to dislodge it from beside one front wheel, but this just makes it waddle further from reach. I go around the back to try to catch it as it emerges, but it dissappears back underneath the ute. And then something I hadn’t thought of happens.

It vanishes.

It’s gone.

I stick my head under the ute from various angles (it’s high enough that it’s easy to get a good view), and there is NO POSSUM on the ground beneath it.

Neither is there a drain opening or any other wormhole in the fabric of space time.

I go and fetch my torch and gloves from the cab and I peer more closely under the ute. And the possum truly is not there. Then I spot it, the very tip of a tail dangling down from the left chassis rail just ahead of the back wheel.

The little bastard has taken up residence in the nether regions of my ute.

It is midnight, I am halfway round a corner at a set of traffic lights with my hazard lights on, and I am wandering around with gardening gloves and a torch trying to find a possum in the underbelly of my fine new truck.

And I’m alternating between swearing that possums are even more stupid than ferrets and laughing at it all.

It took quite a while before the little sod carelessly dangled enough tail for me to get a grip, but eventually I hauled him out of the guts of my truck and lowered him into a shopping bag, before carting him across the intersection to the nearest tree and setting him loose.

Honestly, when I decided to get a ute, I thought I had all the bases covered. I figured I could live with just two seats. Tyres are more
expensive but last longer. Depreciation is less than for a car and durability is potentially better. I could live with needing larger
parking spaces and I thought I had come to terms with the higher fuel consumption. (for the record, I was wrong about the fuel consumption)

But it never occurred to me that I might get stranded in the middle of an intersection at midnight because it had possum sized nooks and crannies in it’s underbelly.