DISTRACTED DRIVING

Distractions are dangerous when driving. It’s why using your phone while on the road gets you a hefty fine from the police and the loss of demerit points.

Distractions are bad. We don’t need or want them when driving, but sometimes it’s out of our control. Like when the kids argue with each other in the back seats of the car or when you sneak a peek at the hot topless man jogging down the street. Sometimes distractions just happens.

The worst kind of distraction is the one you can’t even see… it’s called brain overload. You know, when you’re so in your own head thinking about upcoming bills to pay, scheduling appointments, grocery shopping items, how much washing you have etc. You’re thinking about the million and one things that need to be done.

Brain overload was quite possibly the reason for all the accidents and near-accidents that keep happening to me lately. A few weeks ago, while on my way home from school drop-off, I was in brain overload mode. I was thinking of the sale of the house, what to buy for dinner, the bills I had yet to pay, and a whole host of other unnecessary thoughts when I sideswiped a car.

I was driving around a bend of a single lane road. There was a parked car in my lane, and so I had to veer around it and drive into the opposite lane. As I was passing the parked car, another car driving in the opposite direction came past. Instead of waiting for me to past the parked car and get back into my lane, the oncoming car refused to give way and continued on. In order to avoid side swiping it, I pitched further towards the parked car and side swiped its side mirror. Does this make sense? Maybe the below picture will help.

Blue car: me

I heard the sound of smashed glass as I past and I knew without a doubt that I had hit the parked car. I parked and went to inspect the damage on my car. There was none. For about a second, I thought about driving off but immediately chastised myself for being a shit human being. I went to inspect the other car. The cap on the side mirror had fallen off and a bit of plastic was broken. Other than that, nothing else was damaged. I had my son with me, so we walked up to the nearest cafe to get paper and pen, and left my details under the window wipers.

I received a phone call later in the day. The old gentleman told me his wife had just passed and the car used to belong to her. He was going through a tough time in his life and that he was grateful for my honesty. So instead of going through insurance and costing me an arm and a leg in excess insurance money, he got his mechanic friend to fix it for a third of the cost. Luckily for me, as it was an expensive BMW sports car.

A few days ago I was innocently driving along when a Chopper Reid looking bloke in a Holden Commodore blew out from a side street and almost became a T-bone accident statistic. He had the audacity to stick his finger up at me, like it was my fault he didn’t give way. It rattled me quite a bit.

Blue car: me again

Then yesterday, I almost had another accident while doing a right turn into a highway. The car in the opposite direction did a left turn into the same highway and nearly collided with me. However, after my initial indignant reaction, I realised I was at fault as I was meant to give way first. I can’t chalk it up to distractions, it was simply ignorance.

Blue car: that’s right, me again!

My husband joked that because I’m an Asian woman, poor driving is to be expected. Actually, I don’t think he was even joking! He fully believes this stereotype of Asian women.

It got me thinking. Why do people believe stereotypes? Why do people subconsciously and consciously have oversimplified and overgeneralised beliefs about groups of people?

Does culture play a role? If we are raised in a culture and surrounded by a society that readily accepts certain stereotypes, are those biases programmed into our psyche?

What about media? It’s not uncommon for stereotypes to be exaggerated in movies and tv shows. Remember Apu from The Simpsons?

Anyway, my husband and I had a heated disagreement about stereotypes. He believes they play an important role and there’s a reason they exist. My counter arguments were that stereotypes limit people’s ability to be tolerant by encouraging prejudices and oversimplifies negative assumptions about groups of people in a hurtful way.

It was a pointless exercise as we have such different worldviews and cultural influences. In the end, the only thing we could agree on was this… stereotype and distractions aside… maybe, just maybe, I’m simply a bad driver.

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NIGHTMARE ON SALE STREET

We took the plunge and decided to sell our family home to capitalise on the crazy growth in our area. In doing so, we had to find a rental house to live in while we looked for our next home. People say moving house and selling a house are two of life’s most stressful events. To be honest, I think finding a house to live in might rival both.

We spent all of last December and half of January this year attending inspection upon inspection to find a suitable rental house. We trawled through numerous listings on the internet, many of which had beautiful photos, but in real life were dumps. Many places were run-down, a lot were too expensive for us, and very few met our expectations. And the paperwork to apply for one of these places… horrendously tedious. We did end up finding a small townhouse that mostly fit the bill and the process of packing up ten years of living began shortly after.

Can I just say that even as someone who lives by the Kondo philosophy, the accumulation of junk over ten years was surprising. I mean, it shouldn’t be given my children are the only grandkids and are doted on by both sides. And even with the regular spring clean that I do with the unwanted toys, I still had to get rid of a truckload of unwanted goods.

Also, no one tells you about the sadness of leaving the family home – a place of familiarity and security. There were many nights I lay awake, restless in thought and questioning our decision to sell.

After moving house, I jumped into sprucing up our old home for listing. A good number of hours were spent cleaning, weeding and mulching to get the surrounding gardens looking respectable. After the gardens were done, I got professional cleaners in to give the house a once-over. It was a complete waste of money. They did a poor job, damaged the paint on feature walls and stainless steel surfaces with their harsh chemicals and caused me more money in repairs as a result. Tradespeople were in short supply so we ended up hiring the first available handyman to fix the repairs. He did a pretty shoddy job. Eventually, after about three weeks, I had the house in a reasonable state for sale. I was ready to hand over to the real estate agent and be done. How wrong I was!

My elderly neighbour started the process of selling her home a few weeks ahead of us. We’ve been neighbours for ten years and over that time, we’ve traded gifts and birthday wishes. We have shared many conversations about family and well-being. Selling our houses at the same time wasn’t supposed to be an issue. But it became a problem and I was blindsided by my neighbour’s cold brush off. Money changes people!

Suddenly, I found myself with a dead rat in my yard on the first open house inspection and illegally dumped hard rubbish in front of my sale board on the second. Now, I’m not blaming anyone, only pointing out that it was a rather big coincidence that my first inspections were marred with incidents. My agent kept calling about noisy neighbours trekking through the house and callously opening and slamming cupboards. It became apparent that I had offended someone and instead of approaching me with concerns, I was propelled back to high school antics and group mob mentality intimidation tactics.

On the day of my neighbour’s auction, I sent a text message wishing her all the best despite my better instincts telling me to avoid poking an angry bear. I genuinely wanted her to get a great sale. I forced myself to attend the auction for information gathering and was confronted by a group of neighbours who were loudly voicing their displeasure, seemingly about me. These normally level-headed people formed an angry mob by feeding off of each other’s negative energy. They aimed their collective frustrations at me, someone who they didn’t know from a bar of soap. Why were they all so angry?

After waiting on tenterhooks for retribution from neighbours for the treasonous act of daring to sell my house at the same time as my neighbour, my house finally sold today without a hitch. No one came to yell obscenities or try to disrupt proceedings. No one even bothered to come except my neighbour, who seemed like she was back to her old self. We traded a few words and all seemed well. Whatever bee under her bonnet was gone and her hive of supporting neighbours had settled.

I am beyond relieved to put this saga behind me. No one should ever go through a trifecta of life’s most stressful events, let alone add a bunch of agitated neighbours to the mix. If I’ve learnt anything from this experience, it’s that I don’t give myself enough credit in my ability to face life’s challenges. I let self-doubt and anxiety take root in my psyche more often than not. So, next time life throws me a curveball, I’m going to remind myself that I’m a capable person with years of experience under my belt, both with successes and failures. Whatever happens, I know that I’ve given my best, and in the end, that is what matters the most!

Copyright © 2022, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

PRIVACY POLICY

GIVE ME A SIGN

When I was six-years-old, I was gifted a pocket-sized bible and rosary beads. I can’t remember how they came into my possession. If I had to guess, I’d say I probably received them as part of enrolment at my first Catholic primary school. This bible didn’t have any real meaning to me until I grew older and started understanding what it meant to live below the poverty line. 

This tiny bible became my lifeline. I clung helplessly to this book, hoping it was the answer to all of my family’s problems. At night, I would read through the bible and seek meaning from His words. I would recite the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary fastidiously before bed and pray for divine intervention. When my dad lost a job and became depressed, I would pray to God to find him another job to help pay our bills. When my mum would cry at night thinking that no one could hear her, I would pray to God to ease her suffering. When we moved from one rental house to another, and I had to attend yet another school, I would pray to God to give me the courage to make friends. When we became homeless, I prayed to God to hear my cries.

At sixteen-years-old, that Bible no longer evoked the same power of belief. My parents had become bankrupt. We sold everything. The only house my parents ever managed to buy, and the place I called home for three whole years, was the first to go. I moved schools again and lost all of my friends, the few I had. My mum had to beg and borrow money from people to pay for a temporary roof over our heads. I stopped searching for a sign that someone from above was watching out for me. I stopped praying for divine intervention. I stopped believing altogether.

My mum implored me to return to Church. She begged me to believe in a higher being, even if it wasn’t to be the God I knew. My mum just wanted me to believe in something, but I couldn’t. To this day, my mum still reminds me of the importance of believing in something greater than ourselves.

And to be honest, from time to time, I do still find myself looking for signs. Perhaps not in the same way that I did when I was younger, but signs nonetheless. I look for confirmation that I’m on the right path in life and making the right decisions for myself and my family. For example, I’ve been plagued with uncertainty since I made the decision to end my career as a pharmacist to pursue a career in adult education. I’ve worried about my abilities to complete the studies required and the chances of finding work as a new mature-aged graduate. I’ve been searching for some kind of sign that this was the right decision to make. 

A few days ago, while having a hot chocolate with my five-year-old son at the local bakery, the couple beside us struck up a conversation. We talked about all sorts of topics, from pet ownership to school to work. Now, if you know me in real life or from what you’ve read here on this blog, you’ll know that I suck at conversations and can come across as a bit stilted and unfriendly. So, to find out that the couple were not only training managers at a teaching institute but for them to offer me a job as a teacher was unexpected, to say the least. We exchanged details, and the lady insisted I call her when I finish my studies and was ready for work.

While it might not result in anything, it was the sign I needed to ease my mind and reassure me that I am in fact on the right path. And while I am no longer a believer, it is comforting to know that perhaps there is someone out there watching over me regardless.

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