Posted by: megaschwez | May 27, 2009

Ghost riders

geisterfahrer schild

Some people get their best thinking done whilst pounding the pavement. Some hang out in the garden to get their thoughts straight, someone famous allegedly got a really good idea whilst in the bath, and then he condemned us all to learn pythagoras’ theorem in year eight and never use it again. Or something.

I personally get a lot of thinking done whilst driving, especially long distances.

Actually, that is a fat lie. Back in the days when I actually had my own car, I regarded it primarily as a kind of gigantic mobile surround-sound system. I would crawl into the driver’s seat, connect my ipod to the sound system, and sing along to the ‘mistress playlist’ on shuffle at the top of my lungs. I didn’t even pretend to be on my mobile when stopped at traffic lights.

SOME PEOPLE, however, get a lot of thinking done on long drives. Were I one of those people, I would probably have had a myocardial infarction by now in europe. Because the car radio can come on AT ANY MOMENT.

You can be sitting in silence, pondering what to cook for dinner, counting how many people you’ve slept with (not me, I’m saving myself for marriage, obv.), rounding out the concept for your second novel, and/or reassuring yourself that your behaviour wasn’t that embarrassing on Friday night (I mean, everyone had a couple of tequilas too many, didn’t they?), when, out of nowhere, the radio just SWITCHES ITSELF ON.

Does the fact that someone else has control over your car radio it not seem a little ‘totalitarian state’ to anyone else?

It’s basically like a Z-grade horror film every time, step three in the following tried and true formula:

1. idyllic scene (birds twittering, protagonist humming, sunny drive along the freeway etc)
2. foreshadowing event ( sky clouds over, animals run away, vaguely threatening background music introduced etc)
3. technology does something weird (lightbulb blows, TV turns itself off, car radio comes on for no reason)
4. Something Scary And Also Bad Happens

Not only can it be more frightening than, it can also be trés inconvenient, interrupting ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ just when you were about to get into the headbanging.

MOSTLY, what they are announcing is that there is a ‘Geisterfahrer’ on the road. THIS, dear readers, is what is known as a Truly Foreign Concept. To Antipodeans, at least. A Geisterfahrer translates loosely as ‘ghost driver’, or, more prosaically, ‘motorist who drives against the traffic on motorways’.


I am unsure as to why this happens so frequently here, when I’ve never heard of it in Australia. Is it due to
a) inadequate on-ramp signage?
b) a disproportionate number of holidayers from britain and her former coloneez? (reprazent)
c) a greater number of idiots who drink and drive?

There’s an old joke that goes a little something like this: A woman hears a geisterfahrer announcement that pertains to exactly the stretch of road that she’s driving on. Frightened out of her wits, she widens her eyes in horror as she exclaims ‘there are hundreds of them!’

This is something I do not wish to emulate.

geisterfahrer announcements


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