Driving plays a crucial part in my work. It also takes up a substantial amount of time. I do think I’m allowed (and expected) to claim for fuel costs on assignments, but I haven’t so far. Today, I’m going to a far away place. And I don’t even know where it is. So I’m going to write that claim letter.
I call my colleague. Ah, Location X. Yup, I know that place. Thanks.
I call Dad. How do I get there?
Dad doesn’t seem to know where to take the left turning. When you see the Pegoh signboard, turn left.
Sounds easy. So I drive and drive and… drive. My eyes are constantly flickering to the mileage metre. 7 metres. 10… Then I see the signboard. But its Kampung Pengkalan Pegoh. So I take the risk and I’m led to a winding road, but voila! I reach Location X. 15 metres.
Then, the second phase of work – waiting for the guest of honour (another substantial bit of time), listening, taking down notes, snapping photos, chatting with a 10-years-in-the-field journalist, devouring puree, roti jala, curry chicken, sandwiches…
Soon, it’s time to leave. But, no right turning permitted! I can’t go back by the way I came. It’s okay. I follow the journalist close behind. And the long road leads me to Malay villages, rubber estates, oil palm estates. Not good. Signboards? Nil.
Finally, I reach this extremely deforested area. Ah, a new township. The area just burns under the sun. The air-conditioning system in my tiny car can’t fight the heat, and the untinted windows let in every bit of sun, both direct and reflected rays.
Hope! There’s a traffic light. An opportunity to turn back. My heartbeat accelerates with excitement of the prospect of getting out and the little car picks up speed and performs a U-turn.
I’m full of relief and happiness that I can sing again to the Chinese songs from my radio, although I can’t speak Chinese. And I laugh.
Then I look at my mileage metre. It stopped ticking. 15 metres.