I am writing in response to an extraordinary sequence of events yesterday at the road works currently taking place at the intersection of Tillyard Drive and Lhotsky Street in Charnwood.
I had turned right into Tillyard Drive off Ginninderra Drive intending to turn left into Lhotsky Street and proceed to Charnwood shops. I was travelling well below the posted roadworks speed limit as there were workmen and witches hats on the road. It was not simple to make sense of the ocean of orange cones given the lack of signage indicating whether or not a left hand turn was possible seeing the slip lane had been blocked off, and with the presence of only one worker charged with operating a stop/slow sign in another part of the roadworks, providing little or no direction to drivers as the sign was being turned without apparent rhyme or reason.
My passenger and I both noticed other cars who were somewhat erratically trying to pick their line of travel through the works. I decided to proceed up Tillyard Drive and perform a U-turn in the scout hall carpark. This gave me the chance to assess the access to Lhotsky Street. As it happened, we followed another car that performed the same turn around manoeuvre. As we again approached the intersection to turn right in Lhotsky street I paid attention to the worker with the stop/slow lollipop type sign. I watched him for directions but his focus, quite understandably, was on a car ahead of us who had turned right into Lhotsky Street from Tillyyard Drive by driving into the oncoming lane and being too close for comfort to having a head on collision with a vehicle heading out of Lhotsky Street.
Once those cars were clear and the sign was indicating “slow”, I turned into Lhotsky street, intending to pause briefly and give a polite heads up about the way the witches hats were not simple to assess and navigate, and that i was concerned about the driving i had seen and the safety of the workers. (Not long ago in Queensland a workmate of a family member was killed on a roadwork site. I feel strongly about workers’ safety.) At this time there were no vehicles behind me. I spoke to the stop/slow sign operator and it all seemed good.
Then a worker, who later informed me that he had authority over the site, approached the driver’s side of my car. I calmly and politely repeated my comments about the way the sea of witches hats were confusing coming up from Gininderra Drive and i was concerned about the safety. Things were seemingly fine and I was planning to move off and clear the area. Then the person of authority told me that it was all fine as long as you did 40, you know, obeyed the speed limit. I advised him that indeed i was travelling well below that limit. He berated me further about the importance of doing the speed limit. I politely but firmly re-advised him that i had complied with these requirements. He then indicated a series of three cars that were turning left into Lhotsky Street from Gininderra Drive, proclaiming that “they were able to work it out” and some further berating about ineptitude of drivers who couldn’t work it out. I reminded him that there had just been a pretty startling example of confusion with the car entering into oncoming traffic. The person of authority continued to berate me, and while he never directly told me i was stupid, inept and speeding, he implied it repeatedly. Growing tired of this, i invited him to “get fxxxed” (yes i used the entire phrase, perhaps i do it too often, maybe i need a swear jar.) and i proceeded out of the roadworks area to attend to some tasks at the Charnwood shops.
As my passenger and I exited our vehicle in the Charnwood carpark, far enough from the intersection in question there was no line of sight to the remedition works, we were approached by this person of authority, who was not yet shouting but was speaking angrily and loudly. My passenger left to attend to her shopping.
The person of authority was wearing his high-vis vest with company logos etc. He was holding his smart phone in his hand and writing my number plate on his hand with a pen. I gladly decided to help him out and gave him my name, even advising him that i spell my name with a K not a C. As he had his phone out but wasn’t entering my info on it, it is possible he was recording our interaction. If this is the case he at no time advised me he was recording. Could be an interesting listen, but is unlikely to be admissible evidence.
I was lucky enough to be given a lecture about all he was “gunna” do to fix the arrangements over at the intersection. Something about gunna put a bloke there. I was surprised that he, as person of authority over the site, had been prepared to venture so far from a road work site that was demonstrably dangerous in its current form. In Charny it really isn’t the F-bomb you are most at risk from on the streets.
He loudly and repeatedly asked me why i said what i said, and wanted me to confirm what I said. I told him I would not repeat it then as i felt he would complain that i said it twice. I confirmed that he knew what I said and I knew what I said, and that I would not deny the phrase when he followed up with his relevant people (his higher authority?) He advised me that i would not get away with speaking like that to a person of such authority as he was (okay, he gave me his job title but i have forgotten already) and asked me why I said it but shouted me down when i tried to explain. I even advised him that it was not reasonable for him to ask me to explain and then talk and shout over me when i tried to do so. He and I have a difference of opinion about whether repeated vehement and escalating implied insults count as being insulting if they aren’t directly aimed and the aggression is mostly passive. I think that is insulting, he does not. I found it insulting, he didn’t. He found my direct insult to be insulting. I am not sure i disagree.
After we had been over that gem of philosophical debate four of five times, the person of authority decided to switch gears and loudly demanded me to concede that i needed to be “a lady” and that I hadn’t behaved like a lady. Incredulous, I expressed my disbelief that he was actually trying to define and impose gender roles on me, as well as address the appropriateness of me setting my own parameters of my own gender identity for myself. Not to mention that gender doesn’t seem relevant to the context.
Anyhow, at this stage I was well and truly over it and didn’t have any desire to continue being loudly berated in a public carpark about my failure to embrace ladylike characteristics as defined by this person of authority. I walked away. He loudly shouted another poorly phrased directive about the urgent need for me to embrace ladyhood. Many people were staring. I turned back to him, flipped him the bird from 15 metres away and told him to get f****ed.
It is entirely possible that I am irremediably not a lady.
It is my take that once he has left the work site to approach me in order to shout, insult, gesticulate, threaten serious follow up action and tutor etiquette in the car park, that he is sufficiently off-duty that i am not undermining an officer of the road construction authority. I could be wrong.
I think he is okay tho, because when we drove back past the roadworks, he was standing on the median strip near another bloke in high-vis gear having a smoke while his mate worked.