Like many Aucklanders, I spend a lot of my life on the Northwestern, Northern and Southern motorways. Unlike most I love it. There's so much to do in a car. New Zealand has more great radio stations than anywhere in the world. Then there's podcasts, audiobooks, hands-free phone calls to loved ones, business calls, prank calls. Your anger and frustration won't help the flow of traffic, so you might as well enjoy your time on the road.
Recently I've been constructing action-packed fantasies to pass the time. Some would consider them dangerous or disgusting, but I'm proud of what I do on my own in my vehicle. I think it's cool. I've been pretending to be a private investigator on a case.
It's simple. You pick a distinctive vehicle in front of you. Maybe it's a sports car or a bad guy panel van. It depends on the investigation. Follow them close, but not too close.
And please folks, remember this is all make believe!
"Tracking" vehicles in rush hour traffic is the biggest challenge an imaginary private dick faces. There are so many ways they can get away. Sometimes you have to let civilians into your lane, and you end up a long way behind the bad guy. A truck can completely hide a criminal, allowing them to escape. Here's a tip, stay in the same lane as the offender. A different lane can suddenly free up, start moving, and your evildoer is gone. They will do anything to shake a tail; you have to be careful and strategic.
A couple of weeks ago, I spotted an international art thief pulling out of the SkyCity car park on Hobson St. He was driving a late model and uncommon luxury car. That's what gave him away. Mate, if you want to keep a low profile, try driving a Ford Ranger. Everyone has one of those. A fancy European car was his first mistake; the second was revealing his destination by changing lanes multiple times.
"You fool," I thought (in an imaginary voice-over, "now I know exactly where you're going."
The glamorous thief was heading for State Highway 16 en route to the airport. As luck would have it, that was the same place I was going. I "tailed" him as he merged onto State Highway 20, lost him for a few minutes around Mangere Bridge but found him by George Bolt Memorial Drive. At the airport, he turned left at the roundabout. I went public to keep a low profile, my mission complete. A 45-minute, 27km operation and that suave moron had no idea I was tailing him. Luckily, he wasn't on my flight to Dunedin, so there was no need for an action scene in the Octagon.
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If you have to spend time in your car, you might as well love it. Your vehicle is one of the few spaces in the world that is truly yours. It's got your seat, radio and mirror settings. A commute isn't a custodial sentence; it's free time, fun time, also an excellent time to give your mum a call - hands free of course - she would love to hear from you.
If, despite all the entertainment options at your fingertips, you're still bored, no problem! There are tens of thousands of vehicles out there. Enjoy your drive!