Road trips and raisins

2016-12-09 11:05
The thought of ‘stomp[ing] around a supermarket where the air always smells of sour milk has never sounded appealing to me’.

The thought of ‘stomp[ing] around a supermarket where the air always smells of sour milk has never sounded appealing to me’. (Supplied)

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I think the most common lie told by any parent is what they need to buy at the shops, to make the trip seem more bearable for the children.

My mother personally loves to give “just some milk” as an answer, when my siblings and I all know that to buy milk would take two minutes, whereas my mother’s “just some milk” could stretch on to as long as an hour.

I have always despised going grocery shopping. The mere thought of leaving the comfort of the warm car to stomp around a supermarket where the air always smells of sour milk has never sounded appealing to me. So when my mother asked my nearly nine-year-old self to wait in the car with my two-year-old sister (deep in slumber) while she quickly ran in “just to buy some milk”, I was happy to oblige.

I figured I had about 20 minutes to explore the unknown kingdom of the driver’s seat before my mother returned with “some milk”, and I grabbed this rare opportunity with both hands. I cautiously crossed the bridge which separates the passenger’s seat from the driver’s throne, the divide between childhood and adulthood as I saw it then. I made myself comfortable in my new seat, and I didn’t let the fact that my feet could barely reach the pedals bother me. I could pretend to be a real adult now.

Gripping the steering wheel and making the necessary vroom vroom sounds was all good and well, but it still didn’t satisfy my need for it to feel real enough. I glanced over all the levers and buttons, and decided to start experimenting. What’s the worst that could happen, I thought, a car can’t move without its keys. The lever closest to me had big, bold writing on it, and suddenly I felt like Alice seeing the cakes that say Eat Me on them for the first time. Hold button and push, I read. I decided that it sounded simple enough, and I obeyed the command.

To my complete and utter horror, the car started moving. Backwards. In slow motion, along with the rest of the world. Out of panic, I started pushing random buttons, none of them doing anything, trying to get the car to stop. I didn’t even realise I was crying until I felt the tears rolling down onto my shirt. Suddenly, there was a loud bang, and the car had stopped moving. What caused the car to cease moving was sadly not my random button pressing, but the car behind us that I had somehow reversed into.

As the car stopped, the hysterics started. My sister had woken up and was wailing in the back seat. A crowd of people gathered around the scene as ants gather around bread crumbs. A lady whom I had never met before appeared at my window and somehow I composed myself enough to unlock the car door. She pulled the evil lever back into its original position and sent her son to run into the Kokstad Rolyats to find my mother. After making sure that neither of us was hurt, she gave me a bag of raisins.

Raisins? I thought, I nearly died, and you give me a packet of raisins? I don’t even like raisins!

I got out the car and looked at the car that I had just collided into. The owner of the car gazed upon the dent bigger than myself on the side of her car. I don’t know if it was her or me who was more distraught by the sight of this.

After what felt like a lifetime, my mother finally appeared at the scene with nothing to show for her “some milk” errand. After speaking to the lady, she took my sister out the car and motioned for me to follow her inside, so that she could finish her grocery shopping. I didn’t get reprimanded that night, or the night after that, or any night for that matter. I didn’t need to be. My mother had already decided on my punishment, and it wasn’t a hiding. To this day, I am not allowed to wait in the car. Instead I have to go into the fortress that smells of sour milk to man the trolley, because trolley crashes are less dangerous than car crashes.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  true stories of kzn 2016

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