John Cowan - Car Time

Publish Date
Thursday, 8 September 2016, 2:23PM
By John Cowan

I am an Aucklander, so I live in a car. Not in the homeless sense – my genuine sympathy to those that do – but I recently did depressing calculations about how many hours of my life I have spent commuting on Auckland’s clogged roads. It is years! Not all of it was a tragic waste of time, though.

When commuting on my own I love listening to podcasts and audiobooks, but the best times were when I was driving with my kids. Apart from mealtimes, car time was perhaps the easiest place to talk with the children. You are close to each other and private and, because you are staring straight ahead rather than straight into their eyeballs, it seemed to be a lot less threatening. We had our most significant sex-and-dating talks while driving. I learnt about their world of school and friends. We swapped jokes. Yes earbuds and gadgets can get in the way. It is very dispiriting to find you have been basically talking to yourself for a while because you did not notice that they had plugged in and tuned out. But generally it worked very well.

Here’s a tip: ask them to find a radio station they like or ask them to put on their playlist. Maybe you won’t enjoy it as much as your favourite hits-of-the-nineties station but you will instantly have something to talk about.

One other tip: they are watching you. Nothing reveals character quite like driving. I don’t think I need to say any more!

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