Winter

July 14, 2014 at 10:16 am | Posted in Poem | 3 Comments
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Holding th eline

Holding the line.

 

Winter.

A long, active life – lived to good purpose.

The proof in scars.

A dipping sun gilds fragile bones.

Awkwardly set, but clinging yet.

To this worldly thread.

Brave. Upright.

An iron will holds failing parts.

With fixed stare that daren’t fall.

To the creeping gloom.

 

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Adam

February 3, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Posted in Poem | Leave a comment
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Photo by AlaskaTeacher

My goodly mate Adam

Was kindly and smart.

He had a big brain and

He had a big heart.

His IQ was thrice mine

Twice doubled and then

Paired with the first number

Plus three score and ten.

His spirit was open;

His largesse a crime.

He gave ten percentiles

Though he’d not a dime.

He moved through his life with

Attention and care.

He had all the fixings

He was all but there.

Yet ever so down in

The small of his back,

An unguarded portal

Open to attack.

A target for mean things

Like toothpicks and fluff

And burrs, glass and gravel

And other shite stuff.

Instead of a bandaid

Or maybe a shirt,

He twisted and strained to

Check out all these hurts.

This thing in its doing

Brought Adam to ground.

But when he arrived there,

Not a foe was found.

Ensconced in their bolt holes

Safe in their disguise.

They mocked and they jeered him

And bested his eyes.

Meanwhile the bright sunshine

Impatient to rest

Moved over the mountains

And on to the west.

Instead of a young man

With noble head high,

A hunched figure fretting

With bulldust and flies.

The day is not over.

The sun is not set.

There’s time yet to rise up

And over things get.

So stand to, young soldier,

Thy head from the sand.

Your heart and your brain seek

To know this fine land.

Press on ye regardless

Of everyday crud.

F*ck all of the numbnuts!

And go unto God.

[Visit AlaskaTeacher]

Death & The Afterlife – Frequently Asked Questions

October 5, 2009 at 12:28 pm | Posted in Article | 3 Comments
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Which side are YOU on?

Mine is not a Catholic heaven. Mine is a composite of the finest elements of many creeds, combined with desire and imagination. It took three years to create. I carry it with me always. It calms me like no other theoretical construct, reducing my fear of death and giving me a heightened appreciation of life. I figure it’s worth describing before I die.

Q. 1     How does one gain access to heaven?

The route to heaven is reasonableness. Those who live reasonably are treated reasonably when they die. This is fair, since reasonableness is seldom rewarded in life.

Reasonableness does not equate to mediocrity. It is a virtue as accessible to the anarchic bohemian as to the corporate executive. It means giving things a fair go. It means travelling through life without shafting other people or the environment. It means being gracious, hard-working, honest, generous, positive and grateful – not all the time, but wherever possible and according to ability.

Few can identify with martyrs and saints. Better a world of reasonable folk than one perfect person to every thousand arseholes.

Reasonableness permits redemption, since it is reasonable to suggest that destructive behaviour can be reconciled over time by constructive behaviour. The rule of thumb is to over-compensate. And given the uncertainty of life, it’s best to atone as quickly as possible.

Cooking with gas are the reasonable, for they shall get a fair go.

Q. 2     How does one deal with bereavement in heaven?

When the dead arrive in heaven, most nurse crushing feelings of loss – for their own lives and for the people and things they have left behind. The Time Elasticity Rule offers relief. In heaven, time is malleable; decades can be compressed into moments.

Most newly dead elect to fast forward eighty years or so. As a result, they are reunited with loved ones moments after their own arrival. Surrounded again by friends and family, they can better come to terms with what has happened.

For others, the grieving process is too important to gloss over. They quietly sit out their time at normal speed, waiting for those dear to them to arrive, one by one.

Yet even for the purists, grief fades faster in heaven than on Earth. This is largely due to the staggering variety of exciting activities on offer.

Q. 3     How does one avoid boredom when one is immortal?

Entry to heaven necessitates deification. But immortality is no fun if there’s nothing to do. Heaven’s Edutainment System is the last word in sophistication and flexibility. Because information and novelty excite humans, few are immune to its attraction.

The System makes virtual reality look like Snakes and Ladders. It employs the universe as a setting and time as just one of an infinite number of parameters. It is the mother of all role-playing games.

Yet this description is flawed, for what occurs in the System is real. In short, it allows an immortal to assume any form, in any time, in any place, for any period of time, with any degree of self-awareness and extraneous power.

The awesome power of the System is best illustrated by example: An immortal is chatting with friends over coffee. An argument ensues over the navigational prowess of the Laysan Albatross. Rather than check the facts manually, the woman decides she’d rather experience life as a seabird first hand.

She elects to return to Earth in the 16th Century as a day-old chick on Cape Verde Island. She sets self-awareness to cut in immediately prior to her first flight, but grants herself no extraneous powers. The weeks pass. The woman is the albatross. Only when she flings herself from the nest does she realise she is a returned spirit. Now she can really enjoy learning to fly.

She wheels and dives, revelling in her power. She discovers how to make incredible journeys, drinking sea water, sleeping on the waves, and chasing the ships of Magellan. After thirty years, she is drowned in a storm. At once she is back at her coffee. She relates her marvellous adventure to her friends and wins the argument hands down.

One man is so impressed, he decides to play the role she has just vacated, with a different choice of parameters. He is gone from heaven for an instant. Later, the albatross couple adjourn and compare experiences long into the night, replaying and reliving their favourite parts on the System.

From a tsetse fly on a rhinoceros, to a child at Joan of Arc’s execution, to a crater on the third moon of Jupiter. Nothing is impossible. There is enough to do and learn to fill eternity. Which is handy.

Heaven has everything for everyone.

Q. 4     How can somewhere so crowded be any good?

Some imagine that heaven is bursting at the seams, since everyone who has ever lived a reasonable life must be there. This is a fallacy. Heaven is not crowded, because only a fraction of those who have walked the Earth were on their first time around. The rest were immortals on safari, seeing what it felt like to live as a mother, or a farmer, or a refugee, or… whatever.

The beauty of the System is that when an immortal elects to experience a whole-of-life adventure with full realism, there is no need to create a new mortal on Earth. Imbued with the essence of his or her chosen vehicle, a ‘tourist’ is indistinguishable from the real thing.

People who feel they have met each other before may well be highly sensitive yet non-self-aware immortals on separate real-time adventures. It makes more sense for an immortal to experience many lives than for a mortal to struggle through just one. It keeps the numbers down in paradise.

No one likes a crowd.

Q. 5     How does one know if one is already immortal?

One of the most attractive aspects of heaven is that any of us could already be immortal. When adventure parameters are set to full realism, there is no awareness of immortality until death. You yourself could be an immortal, touring your life.

Those questioning the attractiveness of an adventure with full mortality need only consider the futility of playing cards for matches. Playing for keeps is infinitely more exciting.

The possibility that we are here voluntarily, free to return in any form once we die, makes the prospect of death less frightening. If everything we love is already in heaven, what have we to lose? We are able to enjoy every second and fibre of our existence free from concern about the hereafter, since we may well already be there.

Even if we are not yet immortal, we become so at death, provided of course that we have lived reasonable lives. The pain and suffering of our existence become as important as the joy and ecstasy, since they make for a more holistic life experience. And any unpleasantness becomes more bearable when it is known to be of finite duration.

However you look at it, you can’t lose.

Q. 6     What if one does not value immortality?

For heaven to claim universal appeal, it needs to offer something for the nihilists.

Some people maintain that on dying, they will simply want to stay dead. Since the success of heaven does not rely on everyone ‘getting with the program’, oblivion is a viable option. If, after a cooling-off period and comprehensive System demonstrations, the dead are not impressed by deification, they can forfeit their afterlives and disappear utterly and for ever. Few do.

Would you?

The Story of Slasher

September 19, 2009 at 10:20 am | Posted in Song | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Any minor twelve bar blues progression will do, as long as it's fast.

Any minor twelve bar blues progression will do, as long as it's fast.

I’ve got a story, just for you,

about a girl that I once knew,

A girl born under a harvest moon,

in the house of Mars on the cusp of June.

The whole town got a nasty fright,

when Slasher’s birth scream split the night.

 

She grew up fast on the family farm,

long of leg and strong of arm,

And when her father’s tractor broke,

he harnessed Slasher to the yoke,

And downing raw meat, eggs and beers,

she ploughed those fields for eleven years.

 

When she turned twelve, as a special treat,

her dad let Slasher cut the meat

Of a cow he’d killed for her birthday,

to celebrate at a party gay,

But as Slasher slowly took the knife,

something snapped, and changed her life.

 

Deep within an evil streak,

bitter bile began to leak.

Sick of slaving all her life,

she killed her dad, and then his wife.

At the age of twelve, she stood and swore,

unholy faith to blood and gore.

 

Chorus 1  (fortissimo)

 Slasher, Slasher, Slasher, Slasher, Slasher, Slasher, Slasher, Slasher,

She cut off their heads and shoved them down her neck.

 

She’d chopped her parents into bits,

because they’d given her the shits.

When she was done, she gave a roar: 

‘I like meat, and I want more!’

So gulping the last pieces down,

she, and her knife, set off for town.

 

On the way, her pet dog, Stan,

bounded up and licked her hand.

She felled him with a fatal blow

and disemboweled him, top to toe,

While Frank, the postman at the gate,

met with the same grisly fate.

 

Just out of town there was a shack,

where lived a pensioner named Jack.

He was a gentle, kindly bloke,

who died at Slasher’s second stroke.

And with her hunger barely spent,

into town Slasher went.

 

She feasted hard, she feasted long,

on limb and brain, heart and schlong.

Then up into the hills she fled,

and in a dark cave made her bed

And once a month, for nine long years,

she fed on grown-ups, kids and beer.

 

Chorus 1

 

One night, Mars eclipsed the moon,

and all the good townspeople knew

That with the dawning of the sun,

Slasher would turn twenty-one

And though it caused and awful rift,

they chose among themselves a gift.

 

A boy with hair as black as night,

complexion fair and body tight

Was stripped and scrubbed with sacred soap,

and tightly bound with golden rope.

Then, creeping with the stealth of mice,

the people left their sacrifice.

 

On her birthday, Slasher stirred,

and took the boy without a word.

As she prepared herself to feed,

she caught his eye, and felt a need

That hitherto she had not known,

the seeds of love had just been sown.

 

‘Young boy, will you marry me? 

We’ll live in filth, beside the sea.

I’ll catch people, you’ll catch fish,

and I’ll fulfill your every wish.

And look!  To show you how I’m fond,

I’ve loosened all your golden bonds.’

 

When he was free the boy stood tall

and grabbed her knife from off the wall.

He plunged it in her beating heart,

and then the blood began to start.

It flowed ’til half past six that night,

when, at the climax of their fight:

 

Chorus 2  (fortissimo)

Slasher, Slasher, Slasher, Slasher, Slasher, Slasher, Slasher, Slasher,

He cut off her head and shoved it down her neck.

The Random Breakfast Generator

September 4, 2009 at 10:15 am | Posted in Short Story | Leave a comment
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Pic by Erica Marshall of muddyboots.org

Tristan the Advertising Cadet tossed fretfully on his futon. He really needed All Bran this morning. Fifteen days of Froot Loops had left him twitchy, constipated and more than a little paranoid. Once again he fantasized about sabotaging his Smeg Random Breakfast Generator.

‘Wallpaper’ magazine had claimed that random cereal generation was the ultimate way for young executives to prove their ability to handle whatever life threw at them. The concept was so exclusive that global distribution was restricted to one client per postcode.

Tristan bid furiously online for the personality assessment, triggering a call from his Help Desk Officer, who he told to f*ck off. He won the auction, noting in the disclaimer that random generation was not recommended for Capricorns. He earned a borderline pass and secured his order with a massive down payment. At last he had the means to erase office memories of his mother’s mortifying muesli porridge deliveries.

After four months wait and a three-day installation nightmare, the Random Breakfast Generator (or RBG as Tristan was now entitled to call it) dominated his apartment. The cost was crippling.

He threw a party and was amazed at the number of work colleagues who came. Guzzling his designer beers, they filed murmuring around the gleaming cylinders of what looked like a monstrous paint-tinting machine. Tristan poured schnapps for the creatives and learned with delight that they’d visited the web address he’d emailed them.

‘Twelve months eh, Cobber?’ The Art Director swapped looks with his team. ‘Reckon you can handle it?’

Tristan refilled the shot glasses. ‘Piece of piss, Andre; just you wait.’

‘We’ll be monitoring your progress.’

‘Go for your lives; the website’s updated every day…’

‘We know.’

Tristan’s favourite Account Coordinator approached the bar, achingly lissom in a Christopher Kronos spray-on. Tottering on her Nine Wests, she hefted Tristan’s Orrefors pitcher and sent a sparkling fragment into the salad centrifuge.

‘Oops! Sorry Trist; my bad. The Boys said we need another jug of Midori.’

Tristan gritted his teeth and emptied another textured bottle. It was Danni, more than anyone, that he wanted to impress.

She put her elbows on the bar and leaned forward smiling. ‘Nice toy.’ She flicked her eyes to the RBG. ‘Cost a bit?’

Tristan’s knife missed its lime completely. ‘F*ck yeah! I mean – yeah. A bit.’

‘So how’d you manage to pick thirty cereals? I can only think of … four.’

‘They gave me a list of hundreds; I just had to rank them. They had every cereal from round the world. Even ones they don’t make any more.’

‘Yeah?’ She took a slice of lemon and stroked it absently over her tongue. ‘Even Chocco Nuggets?’

Tristan blinked. ‘Chocco Nuggets? I can’t believe you said that! How d’you know about them?’

‘I used to have ’em at Grandma’s.’

‘Fair dinkum?’

‘Fair dinkum.’

‘Sh*t! So did I!’

Danni put the lemon in her mouth and bit hard. Her freckled nose wrinkled. ‘Wow!’

Tristan stirred the pitcher and tossed in a sprig of parsley. ‘I put Chocco Nuggets third; I haven’t had them for ages; I wouldn’t mind if I got them every day.’

Danni grinned. ‘That’d kinda defeat the purpose though, wouldn’t it? Still, I’d love to have ’em again one day too.’

‘You would?’

‘Yeah!’

Tristan’s heart began to thump. ‘Well, maybe…’

‘Oi, Danster!’ A large Sales Rep gestured from the balcony. ‘Tell Ted to hurry up with that f*cking jug!’ The Sales Boys always called Tristan Ted. Short for Sh*thead.

‘Coming!’ Danni grabbed the pitcher. ‘Gotta go, Trist; great party. I hope you get Chocco Nuggets every day.’

Tristan gazed after her, then realised the creatives were staring at him.

The copywriter lifted an eyebrow. ‘Chocco Nuggets?’

**********

Smeg contracts were Draconian by design. Tristan was glad; it was going to take a lot to make up for his failure to stop the Sales Boys pissing in his spa. He scanned the pages over his first random breakfast of Froot Loops, left buttock still aching from his NanoBot injection. In a few hours, the implant would advise Smeg Client Service that Tristan’s meal had entered his duodenum and was past the point of return.

Failure to receive this message every 24 hours would elicit a warning. Unless Tristan could prove an eligible medical condition, his contract would be terminated, his huge surety forfeited and his loser status proclaimed on Smeg’s RBG microsite. When he arrived at work, he was stunned to see every browser displaying this exact site.

‘We’re all eager to see how you get on.’ The Copywriter’s breath was hot at Tristan’s ear. ‘We’ve even organised a little communal bet, if you’re feeling confident.’

Tristan flushed. ‘Oh really?’ His voice shrilled as heads popped from every cubicle. ‘You’re bloody on!’

A cheer went up and the Copywriter handed Tristan a pen. ‘Nice one, Squadron Leader, sign here!’

The contract was printed on the studio’s best paper. Through smarting tears Tristan beheld a terrifying figure in double bolded comic sans.

**********

Tristan barely slept that night. He was hocked to the eyeballs; if he lost the bet, he’d have to default on his BMW. He glared at the pristine hoppers glinting in the moonlight. Suddenly they gave an unearthly groan and began to rotate. Tristan leapt like a deer, straight through his Japanese changing screen. Then he remembered: the RBG self-cleaned daily.

He’d nominated 3:00pm; the cycle was twelve hours early. For fifteen minutes he watched the machine behave like a mantis after feeding. The awful scrapes and whines raised his hackles repeatedly. Thoroughly spooked, he watched his ‘Lost in Space’ videos until it was time for breakfast.

He got Froot Loops.

The probability of two consecutive identical cereals was 1 in 900. This figure appeared in the RBG’s metrics monitor, which also advised Tristan that the odds of his next breakfast being Froot Loops were 1 in 2,700. Though tempted to test them, Tristan’s contract constrained him to wait until the following day, whereupon his china bowl rang again with little coloured rings.

The same thing happened the next day.

And the next.

He didn’t even like Froot Loops. He’d put them thirtieth – too timid to chance the nasty looking offerings from Yemen, Belarus and Chad. The cereal was painfully crunchy. The coating, which could only be dissolved by pancreatic amylase (thereby freeing radioisotopes for NanoBot detection), could be optioned to keep every morsel milk-free. Tristan rued his choice; preference changes were only free at the annual major service.

He couldn’t believe that having crunchier cereal than anyone else in his suburb had ever seemed like an edge.

**********

After two weeks of the sickly fruit treats, Tristan’s bowels became capricious. He called Smeg and a voice synthesiser offered a service visit, provided he undertook to pay for it should no fault be detected. Miserably he pressed ‘1’. The voice then asked him to confirm his apartment access code so the Technician could plan his or her day without constraint.

That evening, a crisp printout on Tristan’s dining table informed him that comprehensive diagnostics had shown the RBG to be in perfect working order. He converted his remaining share options and went to bed defeated. At 3:00am, the self-clean cycle scared the bejesus out of him yet again. Four hours later, the RBG presented him with another pristine serve of Froot Loops.

Tristan regarded the bowl white lipped, then flew to the bathroom and smashed it into his chrome toilet. Flush after flush failed to sink the impermeable rings, which bobbed gaily like so many life preservers. Then Tristan’s mobile bleeped with a text message:

‘Your Smeg RBG bathroom sensor has detected undigested breakfast material. Please remit proof of your medical condition to avoid breach of contract. Get well soon!’

Irradiation did more than keep the RBG’s cereals fresh and sterile, it made them easy to track. Tristan sank to his knees and stared long at the strobing sensor peeping from his s-bend. Suddenly it all seemed too much. What was poverty, compared to this hell? In a year or two he’d be back in the black. He’d had enough.

Riding in the office elevator he felt a faint stirring in his guts. His body seemed to be affirming that his decision, however painful, was the right one. The door dinged open and he exited with a faint smile – straight into a phalanx of manic colleagues.

‘He’s here; he’s not sick! Wooo hooo! We’re in the money! We’re in the money!’

Tristan’s image stared from every terminal, a crimson ‘WARNING ISSUED’ plastered across his Smeg file. The Copywriter began an exponential conga line and Tristan choked as Danni sashayed past – a hairy pair of sales hands at her supple hips.

For dinner, Tristan fished one Froot Loop at a time from his toilet, rinsed it in a bowl of vodka and washed it down with more.

**********

Mountain dawns and ocean sunsets swept unheeded past Tristan’s picture windows. The odds of Froot Loops were now so titanic, the metrics monitor expressed them as a formula. In return for a month’s free consumables, Tristan had allowed Smeg to run an article on his freakish statistical experience.

Now he spent his evenings bitterly declining invitations from chat rooms. Smeg’s home page had even begun scrolling up to the minute data and commentary on his progress.

At work the mood was hostile. It was almost Christmas and Tristan’s colleagues were sweating on their windfall. Their premature jubilation had soured to resentment at his stubbornness. Surely it was only a matter of time.

The agency mysteriously snared the All Bran account and Tristan was assigned to oversee the national re-brand. Bound by his contract, he dejectedly donated his pallet of freebies to charity.

On New Year’s Eve, Tristan breakfasted as usual. Hunched and rocking in the gloom of his filthy kitchen, he failed to notice the puff of powder that followed the Froot Loops through the dispensing chute. Only when his spoon made a gritty crunching sound did he look into the bowl.

Tristan began to tremble, then tore open his curtains to examine the vessel more closely. Under gentle morning sunlight, a faint residue bore witness to a vanished milk tide.

Ten seconds into the New Year, Tristan activated his RBG again. Amid a blaze of re-aimed downlights, his prayers were answered: Froot Loop dust. With a mad cackle he leapt onto his bench and tapped one of the hoppers with a cleaver. The pentatonic note was loud and pure. He hit another, and the sound was the same.

Forcing the machine around on its axis, he banged each cylinder in turn, frantically searching for the one that had to be almost empty. But the Italian steel was too thick to permit differentiation.

Undeterred, he loaded his owner’s CD and pored over the specifications, then calculated the volume of Froot Loops he’d eaten during the previous months. He carefully rechecked his figures, concluding that there could be no more than five serves of the hateful food left in the machine. If Smeg thought he were going to authorise a refill, they had another f*cking thing coming.

That week saw a transformed Tristan. Though pallid and overweight, he cut a commanding figure among his peers. Even the creatives began to look nervous. With each new dawn, Tristan happily devoured a growing portion of dust until only one possible Froot Loops serve remained.

It was Friday. For the first time in months, Tristan followed his peers to the pub. He drank heavily and even shouted a couple of rounds into his social vacuum. In just a few hours, he’d be free. As he got intoxicated, he began baiting the Copywriter and got a pleasing reaction. For once the shoe was on the other foot.

He became increasingly bold, thrilling as the Sales Boys congratulated him on his wit. Goading and taunting, he gradually worked the whole room into laughter at the Copywriter’s expense – tapping into deep-seated ignorance and jealousy of the creative function.

Then the Copywriter’s mobile rang and Tristan elatedly accepted his first free drink since joining the agency. When he turned back, the Copywriter’s furious face was only centimetres from his.

‘Alright, Arsehole, if you’re so f*cking confident, why don’t you double our bet?’

Tristan did a clumsy mental calculation and ended up with his BMW, two weeks’ holiday and enough cocaine to dust Danni’s entire body. Swayingly he surveyed the assembly, alcohol burning in his ulcerated stomach. Suddenly, all became hushed.

‘Doubleall yerbetsh? Yerrr bloody ONNN!’

The cheer was deafening. Tristan smirked at the Copywriter, who toasted him in surprisingly gracious defeat.

The summer sunset moiled huge on the horizon as Tristan slewed into his apartment. Chuckling and dribbling, he tore off his suit and slithered onto his cool Spanish granite. His pupils slid in and out of focus, then abruptly narrowed to pinpricks. At his nose was a tiny plastic toucan.

He scrambled to his feet and seized the mascot. Attached was a letter from Kellogs, thanking him for all the publicity and promising free Froot Loops for the remaining months of his contract.

Underneath was another Smeg printout, confirming that per the recent change in account conditions (as detailed in the brochure emailed to his work), his hopper had been refilled automatically.

Tearing at his face and hair, Tristan ran howling from the giant burning Froot Loop that filled his Western window.

Back at the office, his Help Desk Officer exited Smeg’s Client Control Site and deleted her hacker’s ID.

‘That’ll teach you,’ she whispered.


If you found this entertaining, you may wish to:

Your smallest kindness will keep me going strong. With many thanks, Paul.


The Bloke Who Drives The Bus

August 29, 2009 at 6:54 pm | Posted in Short Story | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Pic by Steffe

G’day.

I’m a bloke.

I drive a bus.

THE bus.

The bus people get hit by when they’re least prepared for it.

In layperson’s terms, you could say I’m the bloke who drives the bus.

Except that sometimes I drive a truck.

I don’t mind; it makes for variety and the results are generally the same.

It’s weird that most people fear buses more than trucks. I keep stats for my own interest; it’s currently a 70/30 split in favour of buses.

I don’t get it. Compared to rigs, I reckon buses are pretty tame. Except the ones in Africa with 90 people on the roof.

On a muddy mountain track you can really get up some momentum, though the brakes and shockers are usually shot, which ruins your aim.

When I worked Gabon in my early years, I had to sideswipe more than one target and the collateral damage was not pleasant.

I’ve done a bit of research on my craft.

Did you know that ‘omnibus’ means ‘for everyone’ in Latin? Common English usage shortened it to ‘bus’. In Italian, there are eleven names for buses of every kind. I sh*t you not: autoalveare, autobus, autosnodato, autotreno, belvedere, carro alpino, char-a-banc, corriera, filovia, pullman and torpedone.

What is it with these people? I prefer ‘omnibus’ because for me, everyone is a potential mark.

Benz built the world’s first omnibus in 1895. Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft produced a truck the following year. Maybe that’s how buses got the jump in urban mythology. As you can imagine, they were pretty thin on the ground at first. Helmut, my great-great-great-grandfather, was a champion driving bloke.

How he managed to orchestrate a pile up with the only other two commercial vehicles in Cannstatt is anybody’s guess. That he caused so much carnage with only four horsepower is even more impressive.

I guess it’s in our blood.

For me, it always starts as a tingle in my right thigh – deep down where I can never scratch. I can be driving the same route I’ve been on for months and then suddenly, I know I simply have to nail that Finance Director who’s exiting the Melbourne Club.

Uncle Roy gets a nervous tic in his left eye; brother Norman wets his pants and cousin Enid … well, let’s just say she really looks forward to getting her ‘message’.

Whatever the medium, we all know when it’s time. And thanks to the amazing safety features of today’s vehicles, we invariably live to tell the tale. You know when the newsreaders say: ‘the driver escaped serious injury’ or ‘the driver walked away unhurt’? Well, that’s us.

When it’s showtime, surprise is everything. As pedestrians, we’ve all had close shaves with traffic. Driving blokes play this to the max. The best outfits run vehicles so quiet you can get onto your targets before they know what’s hit them.

The Kenworth T800 Liquefied Natural Gas rig is quieter than any diesel on the road and produces 60% less nitrous oxide to boot. Raley’s Supermarkets of Sacramento runs a fleet of these, providing an excellent training platform for younger blokes.

But even your standard Mack can benefit from accessorising. Take the Goodyear Eagle LS. With curved pitch boundaries, triple tread block geometry and wide circumferential channels, it’s the king of stealth.

As you can probably tell, I love technology. Every now and then I get the urge to be an owner-driver.

More than anything, I’d like to run road trains out of Alice Springs. No witnesses, plenty of power and oodles of room to maneouvre. But with my record, I’d never get the permits.

I’ve been a driving bloke for 40 years now, but it wasn’t always the case.

I first felt the call on my Schwinn tricycle at kindergarten. When I got sent home for piloting Virginia Folvig onto a wooden peg (a’ la ‘Midnight Express’), my parents bought me a pedal car. I was horrified at what I’d done and resolved to take public transport thereafter.

This was fine until high school. For two years straight, bullies held me on the bus beyond my stop.

Then along came Stan.

No other driver had ever heeded my cries, let alone interceded. For weeks he was my guardian, until the boys got even.

They hijacked him one dark winter afternoon.

Their frozen oranges crazed his windows and startled him into a violent skid, which ended in the foundations of the school’s new swimming pool.

The boys successfully denied everything.

I have their names, though. My family has promised to alert me if any come up in the course of our business.

We’re all over the world now, my family. We love being instruments of Fate.

It’s so empowering; we never take a sickie. This can be risky where vehicles are publicly owned and malingering is a way of life.

Fortunately, economic rationalism is privatising most fleets. It’s perfect – increased turnover promotes anonymity, while low morale, reduced maintenance and deregulation make it easy to shift the blame.

To be on the safe side, we generally change employers every few hits. People are so superstitious.

The most interesting aspect of my work is the aftermath.

Though death by heavy vehicle is clearly a fact of life (Google provides over 13,000 returns for the phrase: ‘hit by a bus’), few firms have a progression and succession plan hardy enough to handle the spontaneous loss of key employees.

Of course, most organisations are only really scared of losing senior staff.

I find this endlessly amusing, since it’s generally the loss of ‘little people’ that causes the greatest havoc.

I once despatched a popular tea lady at a small factory. It took management two months to replace her, during which time the union initiated disputes on breaks, demarcation and the use of contractors.

Scalds and fights over biscuits blew the WorkCover premium out by 18% the following year, torpedoing a major export deal.

The job went to a competitor and the factory has been in decline ever since.

By contrast, I recently nailed the $250K-plus-benefits Strategic Director (Asia Pacific) of an insurance juggernaut.

No one even noticed until he missed his Hamilton Island ‘Resource Leveraging’ conference.

The irony of my role is that most people affirm their own deaths.

You know how those New Age types warn: ‘don’t give that thought energy’? Well, they’re right. So many times I’ve heard people say: ‘he only mentioned getting hit by a bus the other day’.

The universe is a ruthlessly efficient machine and I’m proud to be one of its drivers.

See you on the road.

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