Dagman’s Diaries

Minister fer Roads

SO I’M DRIVING down to Geelong and I’m fumin’!

“You wait! When I’m Minister fer Roads there’s gunna be some changes! I’m gunna stand fer parliament an’ get into government an’ I’m gunna get Minister fer Roads an’ then there’s gunna be some changes!”

Crabs turns the radio up cos he’s heard all this before. “Ya wanna know what I’m looking forward to?” he asks me.

“What?”

“Alzheimer’s!”

“Alzheimer’s? Old-timers?”

“Yep. Because then when you waffle on with that shit again it’ll be like hearing it fer the first time!”

Crabs starts reading the paper. He reads us the quiz questions and we get 18 out of 36. Well, what do you expect? Half of them are about things I don’t know.

I know how Crabs got his name though — and it’s not cos he used to keep them in his fish tank. That’s just what he tells you!

We’re on the freeway and I’m gunnin it at 45 in the 40 km/h construction zone and I’m pissed cos more than half the trip down to Geelong is nothing more than an open air storage for orange cones.

What I reckon is: orange cones was ‘On Special’ and the roads minister bought up 10 years supply and then said, “Oh shit, where can we store them cos there’s no money left for a big shed. I know, let’s put them all up the bloody freeway cos then it’ll look like we’re doin’ sumpthin’ and nobody’s gunna pinch ‘em from there! Yehhh!”

I live in Doreen — I swear to God it’s a place, not a fantasy — and we’ve had roadworks from here to Sunshine for the past three years. It’s 130 kays to where I work in Geelong and 60 of ‘em are roadworks and 40 of those are just cones to fuck with my brain! There’s orange cones taking up perfectly good road space for no good reason than it needs a sweep!

Then there’s a big poster of a bloke with a hard hat and he’s grinning and it reads, “You can’t see me but don’t forget I’m here.” Fuck me! I reckon the photographer must have got his training with David Bloody Attenborough cos if there’s a rarer species than a construction worker on the freeway then it’s a Panda crossing on the freeway! Bollards! That’s what I reckon.

I’m just working me position to slip between two trucks that are crowding the lanes when this pink roller-skate slips between me and them. Have you seen them things? It’s a Smartcar. I ask you: what is smart about driving a crush-me-quick between two moving mountains with 36 wheels between them and their wheels are bigger than it?

I have a goggle at the driver. It’s a chick with the biggest pair of airbags I have have seen! It’s only the sound of me whacking an orange cone that drags me back from shock overload. Whatthefuck!

Crabs shoots me a dreamy look and says, “Mate, if I had airbags like that in my car, I’d crash every fukkin’ day of the week!”

I like this bit of the trip: the road is nice and straight and the council are gentlemen cos they’ve put the cameras on the bridges facing you so’s you’ve got plenty of time to slow down, and all the other time you can cruise at 110. What’s really good is you don’t have to concentrate too hard. So my mind’s off and coming up with its favourite pastime: how to make money!

“Craaabs…”

“Yep.”

“Y’know we’re goin’ up to Queensland next month…”

“Yep.”

“I got an idea how to pay for the trip.”

“Yep.”

“You’ve got a hi-vis fluoro jacket with you, haven’t you?”

“Yep.”

“Me too. It’s in the back. Y’know they make you invisible.”

“What?

“They make you invisible. See, when yer wearin’ ‘em, nobody takes any notice of you. And that means that whatever you do, nobody notices. Cos when yer wearin’ a fluoro jacket, then yer supposed to be doin’ whatever it is yer doin’!”

I don’t usually make speeches but Crabs isn’t too bright so you have to make allowances. He was still confused so I laid out me plan.

I spoke slowly. “On the way back, we put on the fluoros. I’ll drive along real slow; you walk behind me and collect all these bloody fucky orange cones. You put ‘em in the back of the ute. We do everyone a favour by opening up the extra lane and collect ourselves a couple of hundred orange cones. We take ‘em up to Queensland with us, flog ‘em off cheap to the councils up there, you know, hardly used, as new, stuff like that, then we have some money and they have the orange cones and we have an extra lane on the freeway! Win! Win! Win!”

“Tell you what, when I’m Minister fer Roads, there’s gunna be some changes!”

Barry Dagman, MP.

Illustrations by Jay Harley

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