Is there something ambiguous about the markings on the road? Are they not clearly, brightly delineated? Have those that mark the roads not gone out of their way to make it glaringly, graphically, boldly obvious even to the partially sighted, the night-blind and otherwise visually challenged that this is a line that you must not, under any circumstances, cross? The line to which I refer is a five inch neon yellow line that is rutted so that one experiences violent-ish friction if one’s wheels stray onto it. There is black tar on either side of the yellow neon line about four inches wide and beyond the four inches of black tar on either side of the yellow neon line are white lines that glow in the dark, also about four or five inches wide. There are lights in the black tar, which glow bright red. The lights are slightly raised from the tar, so one unmistakeably feels one’s wheels driving over them. The whole effect is that of a line that is screaming, howling, caterwauling, and screeching “Do Not Cross Me”!
Imagine my amazement and indignation when, while driving back to Johannesburg from Durban late last night amid heavy truck traffic, I looked past the driver on my right and saw a larger than average combi type van with windows, indicating that it carried passengers, and a further passenger indicating luggage trailer behind it, overtaking our car on the wrong side of the glaringly bright ‘do not cross me’ line. My incredulity was compounded by the fact that we were on Van Reenen’s Pass, which is a long, meandering, sometimes coiling mountain pass and you really cannot see what is coming round the curve from the opposite direction until it’s too late, which is why they have all that in your face “Do Not Cross Me” elaboration happening in the middle of the road. It’s hazardous up there on Van Reenen’s Pass. It’s especially perilous at night. It’s a place famous for some of the nations most devastating road accidents. Accidents caused by people cleverer than the traffic department and The Almighty combined, which is why they don’t have to follow the rules of the road or pay heed to the in your face markings that are there only for their safety.
Someone should, one day, sit me down and explain people to me. I am simply at a loss to understand them. I understand if they want to kill themselves it is their prerogative. I appreciate that. I don’t understand why they have to take any one of the rest of us with them. What does their death wish have to do with us? There are places all over South Africa where people can indulge their dare devil aspirations. The national highway is not the place. Van Reenen’s Pass is certainly not the place. Why don’t people know that?
When I saw my driver looking like he was going to get impatient with the long drive I cautioned him that he’d better not overtake on the inside or stray over the thick ‘don’t cross me’ lines, because if he kills me on this journey there will be questions that he is going to find it difficult to answer. Questions like “Did you not see the ‘in your face’, brighter than heaven, obvious warning not to cross over to the other side”? and “What were you thinking”? I assumed that he would live to tell the tale. I was sure I would not live to punch him in the gut. I warned him that I, in fact, might haunt him from beyond the grave because “how can you cause me to die when I have just survived one of the very worst parts of my life? How can you cause my death when I have persevered and persisted through a part of my life that will make my autobiography a great tear jerker of a read, and am entering the part of my life that will make every reader of my as yet unwritten autobiography weep with relief at the reprieve”? And to kill me in a totally avoidable, tragically prosaic car accident? No! “Stay In Your Lane!”
It’s all very simple really, isn’t it? There are laws and lines that one absolutely must obey when driving. Why flout the rules? The grim reaper lurks on Van Reenens Pass. He has proved his presence. That’s why there are rules. That’s why there are road markings like disco balls. They are there for all of our safety. The bloke driving the big combi thing was really getting in the way of my safety. If something came round the bend and his combi was parallel to our car and he had to duck quickly onto our side he was going to swerve into us. We had trucks left, back and front of us. We had nowhere to go. If the oncoming something hit him we would have to stop because there would be such a lot of death and injury and debris and we’re not so callous as to walk away from that carnage. But who wants to be on Van Reebek’s Pass on a cold dark night trying to take care of bleeding broken people? Not I. Who wants to give death reason to be proud?
Night time is truck driver’s time. Let them have right of way. Be patient as the one going at ten kilometres an hour tries to overtake the one only travelling at eight kilometres an hour. It will make way eventually. The trucks carry cargo from Durban Harbour and businesses have clients to satisfy with that cargo. Does anyone really want to put the satisfaction of businesses and clients in jeopardy by creating yet another delivery delay resulting from yet another impassable road situation? Did the combi guy give even a passing thought to that? I was wishing and hoping and praying that the guy driving the Combi would not cause fatal truck accident trouble while I was in the vicinity; or at all.
As it turned out we got home safely. I don’t know why I worry because I always get home safely!