The tale of two bastards and a car

There once was a school groundsman whose hobby was fixing cars. Let’s call him Steve (not his real name). I thought he was a nice dude, but he wasn’t. Then there was Murray (not his real name). He lived next- door to me and his hobby was gardening. I never thought he was a nice dude. Not for a minute. Finally, add a Datsun Sunny station wagon into the mix and my story begins.

Adam gets a car

My son Adam’s first car was a late seventies Datsun Sunny station wagon. It was a great car, went well and was in immaculate condition. The only former owner, an elderly lady had to sell it because she was moving into a nursing home.

The Sunny was the first car in the family for nearly eight years. It made Adam’s life so much easier. No more catching buses, walking, jogging, or getting a lift to uni. He was now able to drive himself there.

The family trips in the Sunny

Most of the families in our neighbourhood had at least one or two cars, a necessity in Tasmania where public transport is uncommon. . So having a car in the family was a novelty for my kids who had grown up without one.  When Adam first got the Sunny, he loved driving his mother (me) and sisters Hannah and Sarah to the places we needed to go. Occasionally we’d go on a drive for no reason. The novelty started to wear off as his friends used to joke saying “having funny in the sunny” with the family. That’s when Adam cut back on our family tours.

The alleged death of the Sunny

He loved that car and drove it until it finally died outside Murray’s place – next-door. It just stopped there and refused to go any more. At the time, I was working as a teacher at a school that had a groundsman. His (not real) name was Steve and his  hobby was fixing cars. He checked out the sick Sunny that was parked outside the neighbour’s place. He scratched his head and said that there was nothing that could be done. Considering the potentially high cost of towing the car away and taking it to the wreckers,  Steve said he would come around again to see what he could do. I suggested giving him the car to use for spare parts.  So he rubbed his hands together with glee and off he went.

That is my parking spot

The car remained parked in that location for almost three weeks before Steve arrived to collect it. During that time,  Murray  hurled much abuse at the Sunny and threw terrible tantrums.

 “That is my parking spot”, he yelled day and night. .

Murray  was unhappy because he had  to park his huge manly  ute in his garage on the occasions when there was nowhere to park outside my place.

Adam said calmly, “the street is for everyone to park in mate”.

“You f..f..g get that car outta there,”, Murray shouted back.

Adam tried to tell him that the car had actually died and was waiting for it to be towed away. But Murray didn’t listen. Instead, he decided to take matters into his own evil hands.

Murray’s DIY solution to solving a problem

The side window on the back left  of the Sunny wouldn’t wind up completely because it had been broken into previously when an unknown thieving opportunist  stole Adam’s  set of golf clubs from the back of the car.

The gap in the window provided a perfect entry point  for Murray to shovel in a load of excess dirt and compost from his garden. Not content with that,  he then watered it down with the hose. It was at this point  that I walked around the corner from the bus stop towards Murray’s place and caught him in the act. Since the car was ready for the scrapheap, I saw no point in approaching him about it and further adding fuel to the fire.

And just like that, the Sunny was gone

The day  Steve arrived to take the car away, he lifted the bonnet, fiddled with a couple of things that took all of two minutes,  then perched himself in the driver’s seat, turned on the ignition and pumped the accelerator. Amazingly. the engine turned over almost immediately.  . With that, it roared angrily and a cloud of blue smoke filled the air. After a couple of revs, the car thundered down the street slowly and  turned the corner. The Sunny was gone. And so was Steve.

As he drove away, I realised he hadn’t been honest about the state of the car, otherwise he would have towed it away.

And out of sight …

I stood on the footpath with the kids watching the  faded Sunny disappear out of sight. We all had tears in our eyes, none more so than Adam. Murray’s curtains snapped open as he glared  from the comfort of his own front room.  Does that make you happy, you nasty old man?

Until …

We didn’t see the car again until 12 months later. There it sat, gleaming under the fluorescent lights in the Woolworths supermarket carpark, its exterior polished to perfection, adorned with a bold “For Sale $1500” sign in the front window.

Shame on you, Steve Groundsman

Knowing that Steve could’ve fixed it infuriated me but I somehow managed to keep a lid on my anger. After all, it was Adam’s final year at university, and without the Sunny, , he was once again without accessible transport. As for Steve, there are no words ……

Thanks to Sander Toonen, Flickr for the photo. Sander takes photos of classic cars.

L to R: Hannah, Adam and Sarah standing beside the lovely Nissan Sunny somewhere in Hobart (circa 2002). Photo taken by the author.



One Response

  1. The photo of the kids is at the Hobart International Airport. The air traffic Control tower is in the background.

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