Battle in the car park | Bushwhacked

In 2001, human behaviourists Allan and Barbara Pease published Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps.

They’d spent three years travelling around the world gathering reports and research on how our brains work, how we react to situations and why we react differently.

They could’ve saved a lot of time and money by standing in a motel car park at Corowa last Sunday morning. We were out with our car club on a two-day drive through the hills, plains and valleys of north and north-eastern Victoria and ended up overnighting just across the Murray at Corowa – a town I’d not visited before. It’s a very pretty, interesting town which shares with Bendigo the claim to be the birthplace of our nation.

Anyway, as we surfaced on Sunday morning, the drive organisers had a little challenge. A few orange witches hats had been set up in the car park, and the challenge was to get one partner behind the wheel to navigate around the markers – blind-folded. The other partner had to walk outside the car and direct the driver.

What could possibly go wrong?

Mrs Whacked and I didn’t have a divorce lawyer on speed dial, so we observed. Closely.

They all got around it with only the occasional touch of a witches hat, but how they did it varied hugely.

Our favourite was the couple in a restored old Holden ute. The driver (the chap every time interestingly) had an extra handicap. His wife confessed a difficulty telling left from right, so someone found a Texta and wrote it on the back of her hand. The shouted instructions went something like this: “To me. This way. Left. No – wait. Your left. Right hand down. No, the other right hand…” Despite the blindfold, there were non-stop attempts to wave the poor drivers one way or another.

At one point, he was coming perilously close to touching one of the obstacles and his frantic wife had hold of the door handle, and tried to drag the ute towards her.

One senior club member in a small convertible has hearing aids – which he says are kept in good working order by leaving them in the drawer. His wife sounded like she was directing a pack of delinquent children. “I SAID that way! No! Not THAT way, THAT way. Left hand down. More! MORE! STOP NOW!”

The drivers seemed equally confused. One took about 10 times the average amount of time to get around the short layout as his highly sporty, race-bred car nudged its way around at geological speed. Drivers reported the biggest issue was that without any visual information, it was very hard to tell if they were moving forward, stopped or even rolling backwards. And then there were the organised couples.

It seemed to me that the vehicles which made it through in the smoothest of times and without anyone looking for a lawyer on their Smartphones were controlled by couples who spoke quietly, clearly and precisely and whose drivers trusted their partner’s instructions the first time. There’s a lesson for us all in that. There was also an insight into the fact that more advice is not better advice.

One young single club member had his Dad in the car with him, but the organisers felt this wasn’t really in the spirit of the thing and demanded that he be directed by TWO of the women – one of them being the left/right challenged. I suspect there is a chance he will become a confirmed bachelor. Once his hearing recovers.