Last week, my sister's husband died. The funeral was yesterday. There were so many events in and around the death that one blog post won't cut it. I figure, in a few months, when it's not all so raw, I'll serialise the story here. The story has a lot of twists... gangsters, death-threats, drugs, families fighting, a bizarre 21st in Canberra, and a eulogy speech from my Mum that rivals Marc Antony's 'Brutus is an honourable man' from Shakespeare.
In amongst the emotional carnage, there was a small event that made me smile.
My brother-in-law was a biker. Harleys. He was somewhat an expert in the field of Harley reconstruction, and he was popular amongst Harley riders - particularly hardcore gang members (the types of gangs you read about in the news) and many of these bikers came to the funeral.
When it came time to travel from the church to the cemetary, the order of the procession was supposed to be the hearse at the front, then my nephew (on his motorbike), then my car with me driving my sister (the bereaved), then behind us, my other nephew (in his car), then everyone else. But the bikers saw that my nephew was alone on his bike behind the hearse and decided to join him. So, the order ended up being the hearse, then about 30 scary biker dudes on Harleys, then me and my sister. Nothing was going to stop them from taking up this position, and besides, my sister pointed out that he would've been proud of having the Harleys behind the hearse.
Because we were driving through the suburbs, there were lots of red lights to navigate, and naturally, the hearse drivers were driving very slowly waiting for the long procession to catch up. The bikers helped. Two of them in particular kept driving in front of oncoming traffic, ignoring lights, and waving through the procession, then riding back up to the front.
When we hit the freeway, the hearse took a position in the left lane and was doing about 50km p/h, allowing everyone to catchup, but one man, not involved in the procession, cut in front of my car so he was between me and the bikers. My sister said, "It's okay, he probably wants to take the next exit," but when the next exit came, he didn't take it; he just stayed in our lane, at the front of the procession.
Then, he did a stupid thing. He tooted. And gesticulated. He wanted to go faster. He couldn't get out of the lane because all other lanes were doing 100km p/h, so he was stuck in ours. Tooting bikies in a funeral procession is not a good idea. He should've just pulled up in the emergency lane and waited, but no, he wanted to go faster so he was tooting the bikers. A couple of bikers dropped back to be beside him and they gesticulated back. In no uncertain terms, using hands, legs and frightening bearded facial expressions, the driver was urged to remove himself from the procession. But he had his back up. He was enraged that we were going so slow. Maybe he had a meeting to go to? Maybe he was hungry and wanted some cake?
And so, in order to end this farce, the bikers, somewhat symbiotically, all slowed down even more, and like a gang of lions in a BBC documentary, surrounded the hapless driver and quite literally ran him out of the lane and into the fast lane, nearly causing a massive crash with the fast traffic bearing down on him. And he still tooted at the bikers as he drove away!
I saw one scary biker take a good look at his number plate.
I don't know anything about motorbikes or bikie gangs, but it is surely a VicRoads approved rule (and if it isn't, it should be in the driving license test), that when confronted by a mob of them on the roads, all existing road rules are out the window and they have right of way, whether they are on your right, on your left, on the wrong side of the road or in your driveway. Just pull over and let them ride, and maybe use the free time to check your hair in the mirror and see who is on 'The Conversation Hour' with Jon Faine.
When we got to the cemetary, the bikers set up a guard of honour into the property by blocking all oncoming cars (allowing the entire procession to turn right against the traffic and into the cemetary). At least 30 cars were made to stop. None of them tooted. They knew the real road rules.