The Importance of Reading Signs, many, many signs!
Three friends catching up for coffee and a little shooting, what could possibly go wrong? Little did we know that the afternoon would play out like a comedy of errors. Some too shocking to comprehend the gravity of at the time, but in hindsight, became more hilarious as the afternoon faded into evening.
Our chauffeur, none other than the lovely Nicole, drove us around in her less than 24 hours old, shiny new car. Uncharacteristically following more road rules and speed limits in fear of dirt and scratches, I was feeling a little less apprehensive about our afternoon drive in comparison to previous outings.
We get to our first destination, cruise straight through the carpark, past a sign that says “No Parking” and down a one lane road. Ordinarily, this isn’t too bad in the misdemeanor department, but when Nicole starts making little squeaking sounds like a shopping trolley wheel that needs oiling, we realise there is an enormous 4WD trying to squeeze past us on a one lane road. In her mind’s eye I am sure she was picturing large scrapes down the side of shiny new car that she would have to explain to her husband.
Shopping trolley stops squeaking and the crisis is averted as the 4WD makes it through and shiny new car is still a shiny new car. So, instead of reversing back to carpark, we continue on to the “No Parking” zone to save ourselves walking 50 metres to our shooting destination.
This time it is I making sounds akin to a demented seal. I see two other illegally parked cars on a collision course as a ute reverses at great speed and slams into a small sedan. I hear Nicole gasp, and honestly, everything else is a blur after that. I recall hearing the words “That’s it, I’m outta here!” as the accident site fades into the blur of warp speed and clouds of burnt rubber.
Incident One, Averted!!
By the time I blinked and regained a proper breathing pattern, we were on an unfamiliar road. This in itself, was quite a concern as I had driven the roads in this area repeatedly looking for things to shoot.
Then, interesting structures appeared that I hadn’t seen before and I was quite excited at the prospect of shooting this industrial landscape. But, in a nanosecond, excitement once again gave way to prickles of concern.
I realise we are in a restricted area and had driven past, not one, not two, but three signs and through two massive gates warning us not to enter.
Let’s just say the site may or may not rhyme with P and B, and may or may not be a refinery.
Signs of hyperventilation are starting to appear, and visions of puddles on Nicole’s shiny new seats were floating around my brain. All the while, I can here Shirl in the backseat making cooing sounds, and clicking away on her phone. (Yes, she came on a shoot armed with a phone and no camera.)
I see a turnaround spot and quickly suggest to Nicole it might be a good idea to use it. She stares at me for a second and sails right past it, and then grins at me. All the while, camera phone is going crazy in the backseat.
At this point Shirl pipes in and suggests that the next road we had just cruised by, might have been a good place to turn around. I think she is starting to feel my concerns. That, or she can smell the fear on my sweat drenched body. But NO, we keep on trucking to the end of the road and come to a halt.
Nicole just says “Oh!”
We look up into the golden light of the afternoon and see the silhouette of a car wash, with shining streams of water glowing in the backlight of imminent sunset. Shirl leans forward and says “Just breathe Tina, just breathe!”
I look at Nicole. She is bathed in the glow of the afternoon sun, and I can see the thoughts of less than 24 hours of dust, and burnt rubber being washed away in aforementioned car wash written all over her face.
Shirl just quietly says, “Don’t do it Nicole!” and just like that, Nicole snaps out of her daydreams and I am relieved to see we are on the move, and I once again regain control of my bladder.
Bladder control only lasted maybe a heartbeat, when someone pipes up and says, “crap, there’s two cars following us!”
I can smell freedom as the gates are only 50 metres in front of us. Sweat starts to dry up, breathing becomes easier and the fear of puddles is almost a distant memory. Phew!
BLADDER IN FULL LOCKDOWN!!!!
Nicole pulls over inside, yes, INSIDE the gates to let the cars pass!! WTF!
At this point you probably realise I am not a rule breaker, taker of chances, or have full control of bodily functions.
The edges of my world are going black, but thankfully, it was only two workers leaving the refin… umm workplace. Once again we are on the road to the next destination and I regain my vision.
Incident Two, Averted!
Now, most people would assume that this would be enough action for the afternoon correct?
Incorrect! Incident Three is probably the most shocking of all…
Thinking we should take the afternoon to safer places, I suggest we head to a local shipping container yard to get some shots. For the record, I do regret suggesting this, and Nicole, I apologise profusely for my actions, and those of our dear friend Shirl.
Due to complete laziness and unwillingness to carry gear, I only had my 24-70 lens, which didn’t quite have the reach I needed. At this point I will admit to having some serious lens envy when Nicole whipped out her 70-200 and was wishing I had brought mine along too.
This soon turned to relief and a prayer of thanks that I am so lazy!
I headed off, probably 100m from Nicole, while Shirl sat in the car playing on her Phone. Shooting through the gates, I vaguely heard a loud sound, but involved in my shot, I ignored it.
This was followed by sounds of raucous laughter and moaning! Thinking the girls were being their usual silly selves, I carried on ignoring them. Taking a step to my left, I came face to face with an exceptionally large (remember how large this is later) sign. I took a step back and read the sign, and all of a sudden the loud sound I heard earlier, registered in my brain. It sounded like a bug zapper, only 500 times louder!
I glance back to the car and see Shirl in what can only be described as delirium of laughter. Her face bright red from trying to breathe, mouth agape, but no sound coming out! I look over to Nicole and see her laying on the ground.
I would like to add the disclaimer here that I thought she was taking the piss. I thought she was sitting down (albeit horizontally) and playing a practical joke. I am seriously ashamed to say that instead of running to her assistance, I raised my camera and took a shot!! Okay, a few shots. I know!! Horrible friend and delusions of grandeur at becoming a world class photo journalist.
I could already see the headlines. Photographer fails to render assistance to electrocuted friend in order to get The Shot!
Coming to my senses, I started to run (walk fast) toward her and then stop dead in my tracks. I yell at Shirl “Is she serious, or is she taking the piss?” Now I would also like to point out, that there was another person in this scenario that could have aided the still smoking Nicole.
Shirl was holding her stomach, weaving back and forth gasping for air and shaking her head. I still couldn’t work out if she was serious or not, but finally Shirl regained the ability to speak and assured me it was serious.
In hindsight, I am thankful I did not bring my 70-200 metal barreled lens and poke it through an electric fence. It’s like the game of Operation, don’t touch the sides and you won’t get buzzed. I guess Nicole never played that game as a child because she touched the sides and got fried.
Although she got a serious buzz, lost her vision, hearing and her legs would no longer hold her up, by the time I got to her, she was laughing hysterically. I later realise, this was shock setting in (no pun intended). So, being the supportive friends we are, we laughed along with her for the next 15 minutes. Needless to say, I think she realises we can’t be trusted in a crisis and that metal is a great conductor.
Sorry Nicole, but that is the most laughs I have had in a very long time.
Can we do it again next weekend?
Incident Three, NOT averted!
Moral to the story, don’t waste your money on putting signs everywhere, because no body reads them!
PS, No photos accompanying this post due to fear of retaliation 🙂