It had been over a year since I’d moved out of home for the third time. This time it appeared to have stuck. It had also been nearly four years since the first, disastrous attempt at living alone in my own place, so I figured it was time to give it another try. I’d gone from living in a suburban family home to house-sitting a mansion to very slowly collapsing down the side of a mountain to a fancy Ascot apartment: going solo was the next frontier. My friend John, who also worked at the radio station, had just been offered a job in New South Wales, so I took over his lease and moved into a lovely little apartment in Kelvin Grove.
Kelvin Grove is a nice suburb—walking distance from the city—but I was in an odd pocket of the neighbourhood: I lived directly behind a funeral home, and diagonally behind a KFC. The atmosphere was…odd.
The building was two storeys high; each consisting of three apartments in a row. Underneath the two storeys was a row of six garages. I was fortunate enough to have the garage at the end of the row. No, not fortunate. The other one. Fucked. I was fucked. You see, to get a car into any of the garages, you had to drive parallel to the building down the narrow driveway and pull a magnificently tight 90 degree turn at the last second to ease into your designated garage. On top of this, the garage doors were manual and opened outwards, so in fact before your magnificently tight 90 degree turn, you had to stop the car, get out, open the garage door, get back in the car, magnificently tight 90 degree turn, park, get out, and close the garage door. This seemed like all too much work for the other five residents, so they usually would just park against the wall on the other side of the driveway, right in space I needed to get my car in and out. My car was a great hulking 1981 Holden Commodore station wagon: roughly the size of a Texan hearse, magnificently tight 90 degree turns did not come easy to it. I needed every inch of space available to steer that cow, so all it took was one car parked along the driveway where it didn’t belong and I would find myself blocked in.
Being quite timid and deathly afraid of confrontation or conflict of any kind, I would normally do nothing about it. If, upon readying myself to leave for work, I noticed that I was stuck, I would simply set off on foot, calling ahead to let work know I would be late. Sometimes I would catch the nearby bus. For months this went on, and I realise this was a mistake, because it taught the other five tenants that parking in the driveway was NBD, because the guy whose door they were blocking never seemed upset by it.
Meanwhile, over the past 18 months, Sarah and I had slowly been working our way into an increasingly prominent on-air role at the radio station. “The Hot Tin Roof” had gone from a two hour show at midnight on a Friday night, to a two hour show at 10pm on a Tuesday, to a three hour show on a Saturday morning. We’d also become the regular fill-ins for the breakfast show, meaning we had a regular weekday breakfast spot three or four times a year.
The first time one of these breakfast spots came up while living at The Tuscan Quarter, I panicked a little. Four weeks of 4am starts. This meant no buses, and no extra time to walk. I just had to hope that nobody would park in the driveway during those four weeks.
Helpfully, I stuck a sign to my garage door. “Hi! Please don’t park in front of this door: my car is a giant station wagon with no power steering and I can’t get it out if your car is parked there, and I’m about to start early morning shift work. Thank you!” It was polite and inoffensive. If anything, it was a bit naff, but I hoped it would do the trick.
On my VERY FIRST MORNING FILLING IN ON A CAPITAL CITY’S NUMBER ONE RATING RADIO STATION BREAKFAST SHOW, I found myself blocked in, and I didn’t know whose car it was. I was so upset that I was at risk of screwing up one of the greatest career opportunities I had ever been given, I did the only thing I could think of: I honked my horn.
Well, “honk” isn’t really the right word. To describe it more accurately: I hoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooonked it. It was about forty-five seconds of long, continuous honk, at 4:15am. And 1981 Commodores do not have pretty sounding horns.
My entire life, I have endeavoured to be good. To not be mean, or demanding, or troublesome. But for those forty-five seconds, I was a total fuckbag.
If you accept that previous sentence is true, then what followed was a complete cock-up on the universe’s part: the only person awoken by my fuckbag honking was the very person whose car it was. He opened their apartment door, saw the situation, and immediately without a word, moved their car. Not a single person in the building ever once admonished me for the honking. It wasn’t even acknowledged. But for as long as I lived at The Tuscan Quarter, no one ever parked me in again. So, essentially, being a fuckbag got me exactly what I wanted.
I wish I’d been smart enough to take that lesson to heart. I could be a magnificently wealthy, successful, feared and respected fuckbag by now.
*While Sarah and I were a duo, “The Hot Tin Roof” was always a trio, because neither of us ever learnt how to actually panel the studio desk. We needed an anchor. The upshot of this is every other announcer on B105’s payroll was lumped with us at least once, tasked with doing all the stuff we had no idea how to do, like pressing buttons and telling the time. Over two years, we were “The Hot Tin Roof with Chris, Sarah and…” Matt, Buggy, Jordo, Deano, JP, Kez, Whippy and Lowie. (Yes, I had a favourite. No, I won’t tell you who.) Of these TEN people, only three still work in radio, and none of those three work in regular on air roles, which I think makes The Hot Tin Roof the Ted McGinley of radio shows.