It started innocently enough. Most Australian families would have played the game Spotto — the driving game where you tell out ‘spotto!’ when you see a yellow car. Taylah was the one who started it and soon the others joined in. Each and every trip to anywhere involves the happy conversations of family members being interrupted by the enthusiastic yelling that’s requisite when a yellow vehicle appears.
So, like I said, it started innocently enough.
There is one car — yellow obviously — that’s parked in the same place every morning. We drive past it on the way to school each day, and every time, just as we approach the slight rise in the road that heralds its appearance, all the kids sit straight in their chairs ready to call out. I’ve had to institute a rule that says that if you got the car the day before you can’t get try again the next day, such is the competitiveness over who will spot this yellow car first.
And then, one day, it wasn’t there. Four necks craned waiting for the car to come into view. Four sets of eyes focused on one spot. Four mouths were completely silent so that nothing could distract them from being the one to yell ‘Spotto’ first.
And the car wasn’t there.
Talk about disappointment.
Of course, the silence was quickly shattered by the very vocal musings of where was the car? Why wasn’t it there? What had happened to cause it to break the routine?
The next day it was back in its usual spot and all balance restored. Everything went smoothly for the next week until, once again, it wasn’t there.
‘I think it was Wednesday that it wasn’t there last week?’
‘Yes, you’re right. Maybe the car doesn’t go there on Wednesday?’
‘Where does it go?’
‘Maybe the person doesn’t work!’
‘Yes! They have Wednesday off.’
‘Or they’re sick.’
‘They could be sick.’
‘I hope they’re not sick.’
The following Wednesday, four sets of eyes looked up expectantly. The car ride had been filled with debate about whether the yellow car would be there or not.
‘He definitely doesn’t work on Wednesday.’
‘It must be his day off.’
Everyone was happy with this logical summation of events. It made sense to me, and I thought nothing of it. I definitely didn’t think that it was representative of any kind of obsession.
We were driving through town and one of the kids spotted a yellow vehicle, similar to the one that’s not in its spot on Wednesdays.
‘Hey! That’s the car of the guy that doesn’t work on Wednesday!’
‘No it’s not. He has a different number plate.’
‘You know his number plate?’ I asked.
‘That’s not stalking much at all is it?!’ I said. #sarcasmfont
‘No… I didn’t mean to.’
It only escalated from there.
Last Wednesday morning, the man (everyone thinks it’s a man though I have no idea why. I might be concerned about sexism if the stalking behaviour wasn’t already cause for alarm) in the yellow car was at work.
‘Spotto!’ One child yelled with jubilation.
‘What?! He’s there!’
‘Why is he there?’
Cue long lengthy discussions about why the car was parked there on a Wednesday when it hadn’t been for the past three.
This time it was Taylah who said, ‘Do you think we’re stalking him?’
‘No,’ I said. ‘We’re just showing a healthy interest.’ #famouslastwords.
The car might have been there on Wednesday but it wasn’t on Thursday.
‘Maybe the day off changed?’
‘Maybe he’s sick?’
‘Maybe he’s a shift worker and his shift changed?’ (Ok that last one was me.)
No one knew, but the plot thickened when that afternoon we drove home a different way and one of the kids called out, ‘Spotto! I saw the car! The yellow car that isn’t there on Wednesdays! I saw his house!’
‘Yay! Now we know where he lives!’
‘Oh, we are total stalkers now!’ Taylah said.
‘No, we’re not. We found it by accident,’ I argued.
‘Can you go past again another day to see if he’s there?’ One of the others piped up.
‘No,’ Taylah and I said together, arguably too quickly.
But I’m not going to lie, the question lingered in my mind. Would the yellow ute be at the house on Wednesdays? If I was to sit in the adjacent park with dark sunglasses and a newspaper would I work out why the car was not there midweek?
Thankfully — or perhaps sadly depending on your level of intrigue or concern — I haven’t resorted to such desperate measures to find out, and the kids have let that go slowly. Only to be consumed by other questions.
‘Why does the yellow ute have an esky on the back?’
‘What could be in the esky?’
‘Do you think he’s going fishing? He’s not near the boat ramp.’
‘Does the esky have something to do with why he’s not there on Wednesdays?’
And so the questions go on and on and on, and Taylah, my most wisdomous almost teenager, shakes her head at the slightly disturbing questions the young ones (and their mother) ask. And then we drive past the tree that’s shaped like a bird, or a rabbit, or a dog, and the yellow car is forgotten and everyone starts arguing over that instead.
The moral of this story (if there is one) is simple: innocent car games can turn you into a family of stalkers. Odd shaped bushes are the only cure.
Although I still want to know why the car isn’t there on Wednesdays.
Do you have any car games you play?
Ever wonder about the sanity of your family?
What do you think the man in the yellow car does on Wednesdays?
What do you think he keeps in the esky?
This post was written with tongue firmly in cheek. We are aren’t really stalking the car. Much. 😉