Latin: /'vɒks pɒpjʉliː/ VOICE OF THE PEOPLE

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Driving by H Searle

"Welcome to the session, Bob." He said warmly. This was followed by the stereotypical chorus of "Hi Bob..."
"Would you care to tell us why you're here?"

I looked down at my very clean hands. I looked up and said, very slowly, "I have aichurophobia, ankylophobia, amaxophobia, belonephobia and dysteychiphobia."

The room silenced completely. I studied my mahogany-brown shoes. I squirmed in my chair. I studied my mahogany-brown shoes again. I prepared to leave. Someone said, "Is that all?"

I felt a smile of embarassed relief overwhelm my facial muscles and spread across my face.

He looked up at me kindly and said, "Now group, as usual, Bob is going to share his problems with us in more detail. He will also try to pinpoint the cause of the problems." He looked at me expectantly.

"Well..." I said, clearing my throat, "it all started when I got into a thing with wheels, steering wheel, break..."

"A car." He said. I winced.

"Yes. That. You know I heard a funny thing the other day to do with phobias."

"Great but we are really trying to-"

"It went like this: 'I'm afraid of grounds!'
'You mean heights.'
'I know what I mean! It's the ground that kills you!'"

"That was really funny, but you were saying..."

There is just no side-tracking some people.

"I got into a...car... And I drove. And as I drove, I became aware of a number of things. People don't realise it but driving is dangerous and complicated. We often get told, 'Oh, you know an aeroplane is safer than a car?' and our subconscious reply is, 'Yes I do, but my death trap has a stereo and private air conditioning'. Sure some people struggle with moving the flappy things by your legs, but there's more to it. What we are essentially doing when we drive is taking a metal cage of doom on wheels and driving it along a piece of asphalt. All, and I mean all, that sits between us and the next metal cage of doom on wheels is a little line. Not a wall, or a glass barrier but a little painted white line and the hope that the guy coming towards us at 80 kilometeres per house in a machine weighing over 400 kilograms will stay on his side. It's like fighting kids... 'This is your side, this is my side. So long as you stay on your side, we won't have any problems.' And I guess that's where most of my phobias come from. It asll started, I think, with dystychiphobia, the fear of accidents."

"I have that," said a brown-jacketed man to my left.

"Isn't it annoying?" I asked him.

"Yes, I guess," he replied, "but it's kept me alive up until this point. I mean, is it really irrational to be afraid of accidents?"

The doctor finally spoke up. "To the point where it inhibits your quality of life, yes. It is, however, good to be wary of accidents on the road and to do all one can to avoid them."

"Anyway," I said without a trace of annoyance, "that obviously lead to aicurophobia, the fear of being touched by pointed objects. If I'm in a... thing on wheels... and am in an accident, I will be touched by sharp objects, like glass or broken metal and probably die."

"I think that's a little extreme," a woman on my right said. "Many people drive daily without accidents. And impaling is not all that common in accidents due to the way the cars are designed. Crushing should be your main concern, as when a car collides with-"

"Okay I think that's quite enough Percilla."

"Yes doctor."

I continued, "Then if you're in an accident, you can't move. So that's where I got my ankylophobia from. What if I'm trapped and I can't move a joint? It'll be like not having an arm! It'll be so terrible, it'll-"

"Calm down, Bob, you're in a safe place." The doctor soothed.

"Alright. I'm fine." I said panting. "And obviously with that come belonephobia. I can't stand pins and needles, it-"

"Let's not go there today, shall we?"

"Okay. And I guess all of this adds up to my amaxophobia." I finished levelly.

"So you're afraid of automobiles because of all the other things you're afraid of. Not uncommon. Group, where do we usually start?" the doctor asked.

As one voice they answered, "What do you do as a profession?"

"Well?" he asked me, one word and a raise of eyebrow doing the job of a whole sentence.

"I'm a learner driver."

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