The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back



If you’re like me, you spend most of your highway driving time gripping the steering wheel hard and staring directly ahead.

This is not, as you might think, something I do to avoid a fender bender with another car. It’s because I’m deathly afraid to find out what the drivers around me might be doing when they’re supposed to be, well, driving.

For example, a quick scan of a recent local police report shows that drivers have been caught doing the following behind the wheel: tossing a salad, playing a trumpet, and putting on panty hose. If I were a cop, I would have this to say to anyone I caught doing these things:

A) Does the phrase ‘100 kilometres per hour’ mean nothing to you?

B) All these activities require two hands. Please do not tell me what other body part you were using to actually steer.

C) I can’t prevent runs in my panty hose when I’m sitting on the bed in the morning! How can you possibly expect to — Okay, maybe if I were a cop I wouldn’t say this.

As bad as this is however, I suppose it could be worse. There are still many parts of the world where domesticated animals are used for both transport and labor. Police have a technical phrase for describing a scene where animals and large, speeding hunks of metal have crossed paths, and it is: “Ew, gross.”

The problem is bad enough in Israel that officials are slapping large phosphorescent strips on pack animals. Yes, that’s right — the camels now glow in the dark. And in India, elephants in work crews get to wear reflective ankle wraps and butt straps.

One can only hope that as trade increases between these two nations, they make use of more modern transport systems. Otherwise rush hour along the intercontinental highway might go like this:

ELEPHANT: Evenin’ Samir. Phew! Nose to tail today, isn’t it?

CAMEL: Yeah, my driver has been boxing me about the ears since sundown, like I’m going to be able to move any faster in this mess.

ELEPHANT: So do you have one lump or two? Hahahaha!

CAMEL: Very funny, Raj. Did I ask you what your driver packed in your trunk? No.

ELEPHANT: Oh, don’t get your knees in a knot. I see you’re wearing very stylish Day-Glo green tonight.

CAMEL: That’s so no one confuses me with my cousin Abijah. She stepped in a pile up last week. Boy, was she mad. Spat on everyone within twenty metres.

ELEPHANT: A clear case of road rage, to be sure. Speaking of which. YOU! YES YOU OVER THERE PULLING THE CART! You cut me off four and a half years ago! An elephant never forgets! Where do you want me to put this tusk, huh? Come on, tell me!
There is also the question of what you’d be able to buy for aftermarket parts in the camel and elephant stores. Those purple running board lights for the camel’s belly? A pressure wash nozzle for the end of the elephant’s nose? What about bumper stickers?
MY OTHER PACK ANIMAL IS AN ARABIAN STALLION

IF YOU CAN READ THIS, YOU’RE PROBABLY ABOUT TO GET KICKED IN THE CHOPS

BORN TO BE WILD

(But currently serving time in the road crew.)

I BREAK THINGS FOR NO APPARENT REASON.

IF I CAN’T PASS THROUGH THE EYE OF A NEEDLE

I can’t squeeze between lanes either, so stop pushing

This elephant’s favourite game is SQUASH!

WHY CAN’T I

get that celebrity job endorsing cigarettes?

ELEPHANTS GERALD: My kind of jazz.

Okay, so maybe the local driving scene isn’t so bad. At least now when I hear a trumpet on the 401, I can be sure it’s a performer and not a pachyderm.

I hope.

To read more of Chandra's work, visit www.ChandraKClarke.com.

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