Never thought I’d be driving down an Australian highway without a license while the driver shits his pants.
Hitchhiking and ridesharing have been around since the ancient times and are still thriving today, despite the whole “hitchhikers and serial killers” scare. In Australia, there are several apps, websites and Facebook groups connecting travellers or locals with a car with others looking for a ride, as the distances are enormous. Sharing the journey means sharing the costs and the driving, so it is the preferred option for travelling on a budget.
Since I forgot to bring my driving license and am not a very good driver to begin with, I was mostly looking for other people to drive me around in exchange for contributing for the gas. So, there I was, set to go from Sydney to Brisbane with some Aussie guy, who was a friend of a friend of a friend, which is practically family when you’re travelling. We struck up a conversation and everything was going really well, up to the point where he started getting progressively pale and making a very weird face. He choked out something about me holding the wheel and almost doubled over, while I struggled to manoeuvre the car into the ditch at the side of the road in total panic. It was not a smooth stop, but luckily the road was mostly empty and the other drivers did their best to avoid our swerving calamity car, so we made it, somehow.
When we stopped, he immediately jumped out of the car and run into the nearby bushes like his life depended on it, screaming he had to shit. Trying to control my shock from almost crashing and trying to drive from the passenger seat, as well as my laughter, I waited for about 30 minutes, wondering if I should go check on him, but extremely put off by the whole idea. He showed up a while later, looking shifty and avoiding my eyes, then said he couldn’t drive. Apparently his shitting marathon was not over yet, so like it or not, I drove to the nearest gas station about 15 minutes out, anxiously hoping no one would check my non-present license and praying to every known entity in the universe that he could hold it in until then.
He did. I exhaled a major breath of relief that I didn’t even know I was holding when we made it to the gas station parking lot. He disappeared into the public bathroom straight away, while I shouted goodbye at his back, collected my backpack and went to look for another ride. There was no way I was waiting around for his guts to finish their explosive business, even if I had to walk to Brisbane, and he didn’t seem like he needed medical attention.
I ended up eating a very greasy, unidentifiable meat burger (yes, very brave of me given the circumstances, I know) and sharing a laugh over the situation with an elderly truck driver. His name was Joe and he told me all about his 12 grandchildren, shooting giant snakes at his bush farm and his wife’s superb apple pie, then drove me to the bus station so I could get to Brisbane, because he was heading in another direction afterwards.