Scratching my own funny bone for shits and giggles. Lampooning books, music and being a single woman over 40. Recording observations with an almost Seinfeldian obsession for the minutiae of life. Things can get sweary around here. You understand.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


For reasons too dull to explain, I have been of late driving a Nissan Pathfinder. It's another loaner. All I can say is if I had the choice, I'd rather be driving around in a Russian Lada Niva than this hunk of plastic on wheels. Firstly, the genius who designed it thought it would be a really great idea to put the speedometer in the middle of the dashboard. I don't need to explain how dangerous it is to be having your eyes off the road for any time more than absolutely necessary, but after driving it around for a good two months I am still looking for the speedo in it's regular position and having a DOH! moment when I find it's not there. Secondly the front side panels are made of plastic. I discovered this as I was leaning up against it one day and the whole front panel caved in under my weight. Suffice to say there's not a lot of metal between me and an errant semi-trailer...making the airbags somewhat redunant don't you think? Anyways the reason for my little spit about this particular vehicle is that yesterday I nearly rear-ended a car outside my house in it. Hail was forecast for Brisbane and I had to move the damned thing off the road. My street is on a gentle incline and I was facing downhill. A Corolla had earlier squeezed into a space right in front of me and reversed within a bee's dick of my front bumper. Unbeknownst to me, the Pathfinder has a dodgy handbrake. You'd think I would have discovered this before now but I tend to ride the clutch a lot and only use it if parking on a steep hill, of which I haven't had to do as yet. As I was putting the car into reverse and employing the hand brake I realized that I couldn't release the foot brake in order to get the revs up because the hand brake wasn't holding! I was sickenly close to the rear bumper of the Corolla in front of me when I realized I had to take desperate measures. Picture this: left foot riding clutch at point of gear engaging, right foot on brake pedal, head under the dashboard and left hand desperately reaching down to the accelerator to get the revs up and find the balance point so I could get the damned thing moving without risking it rolling forward. Anyone observing this fiasco would have found a car revving unecessarily high then reversing with no sign of the driver in the front seat all the while being accompanied by my special brand of expletives. I made it under the car port with no damage to either party. Then it didn't hail. Fuck this shit. So cheer me up with your near-miss stories if you please! 


Nautilus said...

It should be compulsory that all cars should have a pedal layout condusive to heal and toeing.

I have a ton of near miss stories, mostly from when I used to tow my Mini behind my Valiant on the way to car club events. I have trouble sharing those without a beer in hand though.

So you have discovered the joy of the car industry "well give you a car" scenario. I always get a car allowance because changing cars every other week gives me the shits.

Natalia the Russian Spy said...

NAUT: Well I hope you're nursing a brewski tonight so I can hear those Mini stories! Yes and the loaners situation is hit-and-miss. The best one ever was the Mazda BT-50. Damn I miss that truck!

YsambartCourtin said...

I was in my solid beast of a car with a young lady who was as amorous as I was. There was much front seat fumbling, and somehow the handbrake came undone. My car rolled down the hill and generated enough speed to bash the car in front of us. $1500 worth of damage to the car- it was less than a week old. Solid beast was not even scratched.

Why is this a near miss story? After the paperwork was done, young miss was disinclined to continue. Dammit.

Natalia the Russian Spy said...

BART: WHY? Was it her car? ;-)

YsambartCourtin said...

No, apparently me heading into the party, finding the owner and swapping insurance details was a turn off!

Natalia the Russian Spy said...

BART: Ah right. Silly wench. The myth of the Bad Boy strikes again.

Nautilus said...

Actually a story just occurred to me (thanks Bart) and it is neither a near miss nor my own story.

My uncle used to run his road sweeping business from his farm. The house on the farm was at the end of a 1.5km driveway and perched on a fenced houseblock at the top of a hill.

One of his new drivers had just finished his shift and drove up to the house for a chat. He parked the sweeper on the hill just outside the house block.

Unfortunately no-one had told him about the dodgy handbrake in the sweeper and it managed to roll about 250 mtrs down the driveway and straight into the nearest dam. $200,000+ writeoff.

More of a bullseye story rather than a near miss.

Natalia the Russian Spy said...

NAUT: That would have made a fine YouTube upload eh? Your story reminded me of my ex-father-in-law and his near miss with his own tractor. Nobody wants to get wedged underneath one of those bad boys on a hillside.

YsambartCourtin said...

$200,000 lost, all for the want of a handbrake tighten. And the drivers lack of good gearing practice. Still, better a dam than a freeway or school.

Anonymous said...

Nearly got side swipped last by this chicky babe who was mesing around with her iphone whilst pulling away from a set of lights..

Then a few days earleir this dickwad in a ford sports ute nearly T'd me simply because he could be bothered to look at oncoming traffic when crossing over a road.

Moko said...

Doing burnouts in gravel as a young pup in my PILE OF SHIT Mach 5 Cortina when out of nowhere appear two posts made out of railway sleepers. I went between them sideways with barely the thickness of the number plate between the posts and the car. Not even a scratch.

Turns out I wrote that car off in another episode I'm not putting to print.

Doc's coming over this way if you're up for it too. Be great to see ya again. See how it pans out. Being organised on Twunter over the next coupla weeks.

yankeedog said...

I've got more near-miss stories than you care to hear, but you bring up a good point on auto design. You'd think all of the companies could get together and decide to put stuff in the same location. Who puts the speedometer in the middle of the dashboard? Stupid. Also, why can't they put the fuel filler on one side or the other? Sometimes it's on the right side, sometimes on the left. Always a fun game when driving a rental.

I've had problems when following early 2000s Ford Focuses. The Focus had its taillights mounted high up on the back of the car-not where your eyes are used to seeing them. Almost rear-ended one or two of them.

If you need a car, I'll sell you HMS Rattletrap, my Ford Taurus. Only 370000 km on it, and the heater core's shot-but you don't need heat in Brisbane anyway. For you, I'll make a deal. What would it take to get you in this car TODAY?

Bangar said...

Glad to hear you made it without a scratch.

I was on a boys weekend and the only bike available for me was the kids. This thing ran but had no clutch so to start it select neutral run it along jump on and drop into first. To go with no clutch there were no front brakes and the rear brakes where lined with instant religion (you learned to pray real quick).

Being sensible I kept the speed down and so lost the others, hence the wrong turn which led to coming up to the neighbours property and spotting the wire gate strung across the road a little to late, so kick down the gears, pray strenuously and at the last minute aim for the post. Stopped without damage to me or the bike the post ... oh well.

Flinthart said...

Eh. I once got stuck in one of those really steep saddle-dip roads in Bardon, back when I was a cabbie. I was new. The company had given me one of their most 'specially shitty, beat-up cabs.

I duly dropped my passenger at the bottom of the saddle, did the paperwork, and then roared off...up.....the......fuck........notgonnamakeit!

Yeah. The transmission was so shitty I couldn't actually drive up the hill.

No drama. I did a u-bolt, and went up the other...fucking......shit.......ohcrapno!

And wound up down the bottom of the saddle again.

Next thing I tried was going partway up the hill, then doing a u-bolt and thundering back down in the hopes of picking up enough speed to make it UP AND OVER!!!

That didn't work either. But I noticed that in reverse (while I was climbing to gain height, and therefore speed on the way down) the cab seemed to be able (barely) to handle the grade.

So yes: eventually, I reversed all the way out of the damned saddle-dip. Then I drove all the way back to the depot, told 'em their cab was a piece of shit, and went home.

BTW: in situations such as you describe, I've been known to allow the car to roll forward very, very slowly and gently until it is supported by the vehicle of the idiot who parked me in below. It's quite easy to reverse out if your car is nicely supported.

And if the car in front rolls away? Tough titty. Obviously they didn't set their handbrake. Nothin' to do with ME, officer!

Steve said...

Not long after I got my license when I was 17, I was going down a road with a 40mph limit at night, driving at about 50 or 55. I came to an intersection, and turned to my friend and said, "if it's green, I'm flying right through it."

I hit the intersection, not realizing that there was a crown on it (a grade big enough to qualify as a small hill, or a ramp for an Evel Knievel stunt show), and literally got airborne. I landed on the other side of the intersection, all 4 wheels at once, and bounced into the oncoming lane, in the path of another car. I managed to do a quick swerve to get back in my lane. I think it took about 30 seconds for us to realize we had been saying nothing but "Oh Shit" for the last 30 seconds.

Simon said...

After I’d been riding a motorbike for a year or two, my dad reckoned he’d show me how to drive, using his car. Our garage was separated from the brick wall to our back yard by an alleyway that served all the houses down the road we lived on: garage on one side, house and yard on the other. The garage and forecourt were on a downslope away from the alley: my dad moved it out of the garage and onto the forecourt and we swapped places. The idea was that I should learn clutch control by moving it a little up the slope into the alley then stopping.

I started the engine, depressed the clutch, then attempted to press down on the accelerator, ease off the clutch and release the handbrake in the proper fashion.

Now at this point I should explain that the clutch, the throttle and the front brake are all controlled by the hands on a motorbike, but are all controlled by the feet in a car.

As the clutch began to bite I pressed down harder on the throttle and released the handbrake, all without stalling the engine – but as the car began to move forward I lost my presence of mind, pressing down on the throttle instead of the clutch, or, for that matter, the brake. I had completely forgotten about the handbrake.

The alley was only about 4 metres wide, and it took about a second for me to run the car into the brick wall that lay between the alley and our back yard. The wall was an old one, made with lime-sand mortar, and it simply collapsed in a pile of bricks and dust. The car stalled. I can still remember seeing my grandmother staring in amazement from the kitchen window at the sight of my miraculous appearance.

Natalia the Russian Spy said...

CHAZ: Maybe is was faffing his I-phone? ;-)

MOKO: I nearly died in a Cortina. An old girlfriend sailed through a stop sign over Hawthorne Road. Lucky it was late at night.

YANKEE: Ha! You can keep your Taurus matey!

BANG: Near miss garrotting!

FLINT: Great yarn. Speaking of saddle-dips, was stuck in Paddington yesterday attempting to find parking. Everyone of those streets of Latrobe has damned traffic calmers! Imagine if you had those obstacles as well? I knew a guy who reversed his car in peak hour for 15 kilometres when his transmission packed it in. Brave.

STEVE: Sounds like the Blues Brothers!

SIMON: Good to see you again! What a ripper of a yarn. I can't ride a bike...I'd imagine my feet wouldn't know what to do.

Damian said...

One of the reasons I'm so happy with my Hilux, is that even on a quite respectable hill I can balance on the clutch at idle with no fear of stalling. Something to do with 235Nm torque in a vehicle that weighs about the same as a Celica, but hey ;) Of course, it's no good reversing uphill on loose ground...

Natalia the Russian Spy said...

Hey nice to see you Damian...bit like a Chevy big block in a mini uh?

Damian said...

Nice to be here :)

Well I've seen one project online where someone put a 3RZ-FE engine form a Hilux into an old Celica, with added turbo and massive intercooler. It was a Brisbane business that makes intercoolers, and this was meant to be a sort of showcase. So yeah, heh.

But me, it's a standard Hilux, nothing fancy. I'm probably not including the weight of the ally tray there, but it isn't much really.

Natalia the Russian Spy said...

So you're a Hilux man? Lot of people get quite devoted to them. I was driving around a Mazda BT-50 diesel/auto for a while. Damn I miss that truck!

I've also added you to my blog roll. It's taken me long enough to discover you!

Damian said...

Oops, thought I had commented again earlier.

Ma'am, I'm honoured and have reciprocated the connexion.

This BT-50 didn't end up in a certain national scandal, did it?

Anonymous said...

I think I blogged once about the time I was pissed, hit a car on a roundabout on my bike years ago and ended up crashing through the plate glass front of a bottle store.
Despite this, it was a real near-miss as I got the best ever copper I've ever met who actually let me off despite the breath-test results.
Dual cabs, esp Hilux 4WDs, rule!

juxtagon said...

Speaking of plastic - anyone bought you one of these yet?

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