Still, at least Sydney doesn't have the hook turn.
But I agreed. Unfortunately, D planned to catch the last flight of the night out, and so my Friday night was pretty much made up of the time I spent driving to and back from the airport. But. But, before that. Before I reach there. Before I begin driving, I arrive at D's place, and he has just finished packing. He is zipping up his bag as I walk through the door. He looks guiltily up as I enter, because as anyone knows, when you enter a house to find someone just finished packing, and you're suppose to be leaving for the airport, there will be some delays. Some being a polite way of putting it. In fairness, I only get two minutes from his house before I turn back, because he has forgotten his glasses. Which, you know, are in his bag. And I only have to turn back once.
Eventually, we get on the road again. D wants to take the toll, to speed things up, and he pulls out his etag--
(Conversation Earlier in the Week
You can borrow my car for the weekend if you want.
Dude, I got a car. I don't need a car.
Free petrol card.
Nah, but thanks. I'd just be worried I'd hit something. That thing's a tank.
Hey, can I borrow your etag?
You let me borrow your car, but not your etag?
I'm taking that with me.)
--"I see you have the etag," I say.
"Yeah, I listed her car on it, so we can use it in Melbourne."
"How nice for the pair of you," I reply, feeling as if I have been denied something of vast and terrible importance. The ring of power, for example, has nothing over a free etag.
There are tolls all over Sydney now, and with the price of petrol how it is, it's cheaper to pay them than the petrol, but I find myself morally against such things. Pay to use a road. Pay to travel quicker. Who made that up? I want to see the minutes of that meeting. Still, it is exactly this that makes the etag such a valuable thing. Such an important thing. Such a guarded thing. And as D sets the etag down so we can travel through one on the M4, I consider pushing him out, taking it, and driving away laughing and clutching it in success.
That's probably an over reaction, I think, and put my twitching hands on the wheel. Never knowing how close he has come to being thrown out of a car, D talks as we tool along the road, talking shit, and avoiding the pay toll booths and instead going through the etag gate.
Once through, I say, quite calmly, "Why didn't it beep?"
"You're car is too loud," D says, turning the radio down. Wind rustles. Something shakes. In the back, the notes from my thesis, having sat in my car since March, flap. "See?"
"We were photographed, man."
"I was hoping you didn't notice the flash."
I curse him. I curse his etag. I could throw them both out! I could! Who would find me guilty? No one! Instead, D tells me to chill, flips open his phone, and calls the Etag People. I try to remember what my number plate is.
Eventually, we sort that out, and continue on our way. Traffic is not too bad, so we make good time, but we're running late, and I just drop D off outside, then take off. I go in a circle around the Domestic Airport and its carpark, and then proceed to get lost twice in leaving the actual airport, the first time ending up in the International Airport, and then, later, at the opening of the M5, which I cannot take because I have no money on me, and D took the etag. I probably spend more money getting lost and going the long way back to Sydney than if I'd just paid the tolls. An important lesson is being imparted on me by the world, and it is this:
Sydney Airport is designed by the Devil and run by the forces of Evil.