New Year’s Eve is a weird time of year, especially when you’re driving around like man on fire trying to get as much work done as you can before everyone decides they don’t want to go out for a month.
At some points before and after, the only life forms on the streets are basically DJs, taxi drivers and cats.
I only knew it was midnight on NYE because of the fireworks to both sides of the motorway and the horizon that looked like some kind of alien invasion targeting the cities. I’d already done three gigs and was on my way to do several more over the next 48 hours. I was literally the only vehicle on the biggest road in the country, and it was quite surreal. Even the psycho truck drivers were nowhere to be seen – which was a mixed blessing, as they always have the best pure amphetamines.
It became apparent after some time that I was in urgent need of lightening my load. I wasn’t drinking and I was driving myself many thousands of miles this time. The journey needed a lot of pit-stops. I felt the panic rise as I passed the third major service station that was lights-off and barricaded. You take fuel, running water and refreshment very much for granted. Especially on motorways. However, there are a few hours annually that even our corporate masters cannot wave enough money at a spotty herbert to convice them to stand alone behind the counter in the middle of nowhere.
I didn’t just need a shit, like, in a truly medical sense; I was also running low on petrol. The former was definitely the priority. A number two on the side of a motorway was not an attractive proposition. I’d not reduced myself to the level of the psycho truck drivers just yet. But it wasn’t far off.
Lo! In the distance appeared a dim light. A vast, empty, service station, the car park as bare and lifeless as the surface of the moon. You don’t realise how big these places are until you see them like that – or how depressing. A sad, elderly, Tarmac clown with its wig off. I screeched to a halt as close to the doors as possible and, mumbling a prayer, I waddled and staggered to the entrance. ‘HURRAH!’ went the doors as they slid open. I skated into the darkened foyer and did a good impression of a car drifting around corners as I made for the toilets. The place was clearly not open, but not quite closed either. I crashed into the gents and just made it into a dark cubicle in time. Result.
Then I heard footsteps, and the cubicle next to me open, close and lock. It was most odd. I had seen no other vehicles or people on the way in. Bit ‘woo’ actually. Bit ‘no ta’.
...bellowed a huge cheery voice almost next to my ear. I clenched, pinched and panicked. I knew all about psycho truck drivers. Enough of the drug-addled maniacs had tried to kill me on the roads over the years. I kept silent. Maybe he didn’t know I was there?
“HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
Christ, he was cunning. He’d used a festive greeting. I had to say something, so I grunted a reply with minimal false cheer to my unsolicited caller. An “Oh, er, happy new year to you too, er” sort of thing.
“AY! WHAT YOU UP TO MATE!?”
“Oh, I’m… er just. Er. Having a wee in a service station sort of thing.”
“GREAT! GREAT! YOU COMING OUT? GO ON! IT’S NEW YEAR’S!”
“Oh … well that is very nice of you. I’m actually working, and on my….”
“YEAH YEAH YEAH BLAH BLAH. COME ON, DON’T BE SHY.”
I was tired. I was a bit alarmed, and I was in the dark in the middle of a motorway on NYE, three gigs in, being propositioned by a wandering, diesel fume-sniffing assassin who undoubtedly wanted to wear my skin as a catsuit. I’d had enough. I pulled up my pants, took a deep breath and hammered on the paper wall next to me with all my strength, yelling “FUCK OFF YOU HAIRY-ARMED CANNIBAL! I’VE GOT TO WORK! I’M A DJ MAN! AN ARTIST! I’VE SEEN DUEL! I CAN’T BE DEALING WITH YOUR FESTIVE MURDEROUSNESS FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, I’VE GOT WORK TO DO!”
All I heard from next door was a whisper:
“I’m so sorry mate, I’ll have to call you back. There’s a fucking lunatic in the cubicle next to me going absolutely mental.”
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