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Linda's Drive

Page 5

Neil Blick

It would have seemed strangely comical under different circumstances, a grey-haired man on a mountain bike leading a parade of cars, trucks and tourist-packed minivans up a narrow hillside.  The short distance became a long journey. Eventually we all made it to the required right turn. Traffic overtaking, drivers shaking heads and fists. Their time saving short cut had been lost to them on this now-hot Monday morning.

At the top of the hill, I pointed to a big green sign ‘Geelong 87 ks’ then signalled Linda to overtake me. I waved her on and gave an encouraging smile. The little white car slowly passed, I smiled warmly, then reached for the water bottle and drooped my body over the bike frame. She gave a slight nod in return, then hunched over her steering wheel and fixed her eyes on the road. I watched as she warily drove up the next hill. My calf muscles pounding, my breathing slowing, I hoped she was obeying her next GPS matron’s instruction. I tried to assure myself she was on her way and all would be fine. I had a hunch she wasn’t.

If I could believe my own self-talk that Linda was now just fine and dandy, then I could resume my solitary decompression bike ride. Thinking tricks can sometime help us get on with life. Pretending to yourself has its place, although truth is often a harsher reality. Linda’s fear was now partially mine. She may have overtaken my bike but I doubted she had overcome her panic.

Twenty first century GPS maps are auto pilots that do not interface with primal animal survival. They don’t factor human reactions or demeanours into their systematic software. A friendly fem-bot simulated voice tone cannot contend with a volcanic rush of adrenaline. 

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