Jack and the Mini

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Jack and the Mini

By Julie Boyd ·  2 min read · From 500 Words: The Kindness of Strangers

‘Bugger. What do we do now?’

It was my third year at University and I finally had my license.

The local policeman had seen me driving for years. Country kids needed to know the rudiments of how to fix an old car, and how to drive,  just in case.

He knew that, so on your eighteenth birthday you would simply drive up to the police station, wake him from his alcoholic slumber and he would ask one question “… and who taught you to drive?’

“Pop French”, was the response from ninety per cent of the local youngsters.

My grandfather had begun his working life driving bullock drays and ended up driving the long haul monsters on which the village depended for the delivery of supplies.

“That’s good enough”, the policeman would respond. “Best teacher around. You won’t kill yourself or anyone else. He’s a good bloke to have a beer with.  Great storyteller. Here you go.”

The formalities completed, he would ceremonially hand you your license, and then it would be off to the pub to buy he and Pop a beer while you took your mates for a legal spin.

Two months later I had bought my first car.

A Mini, which was promptly named Chatsworth.

We christened her at a street party outside the Trades Hall Council the day Gough Whitlam won, with a “goon of red”, a pizza, and by covering the rust spots on her chassis with strategically placed adhesive flowers.

Every cop in Melbourne knew Chatty.

This was the first time I was taking her home. A six hour drive to the outer limits of the Victorian countryside, and, with a promise of Mum’s lamb roast, two friends threw their bags in and came too.

The first five hours were seamless. Then right at the most remote point on the windiest road in the country, she blew a tyre.

“No worries, I’ve got this” I said.  Then I discovered we didn’t have a jack.

Five minutes later a massive truck rounded the hairpin bend. Fortunately for us, very slowly. It stopped right on our bumper bar amid a scream of steam and brakes, and the biggest bloke I’ve ever seen, jumped out.

He didn’t speak, simply looked, drew in a gale of breath, backed up to Chatty, bent down and lifted her clean off the ground.

In a flurry of nuts, bolts, spares and effusive thanks, the tyre was changed.

He placed her back down as gently as a baby, gave her roof a pat with his massive hands, brushed himself and said, “okay kids, ‘op in, I’ll folla youse to the creek to make sure you’re okay”.

The massive truck and the tiny car made quite a sight as we pulled up in front of Mum and Dad’s place. Neighbours popped out to see what was causing such excitement. Then my Dad appeared.

“G’day Jack. Thanks for rescuing them, mate. They would’ve had quite a walk. Come in,  plenty of lamb roast for you too.”

Published 06 Oct 2013.  Swifts Creek VIC 3896