Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

There’s nothing like a deadline.

For years now I’ve had an ambition to visit little Waiheke Island, (partly because I can see it from my house) but with another trip home looming soon, early this morning I finally got it organised.

Sitting on the Sealink ferry about to leave Half Moon Bay, I phoned Nigel and his brother Steve who would be joining me over there. They were still waiting to catch a different ferry from Devonport on the North Shore, which was further away, however an hour later they had arrived over there okay, but were still waiting for me.

Even more bizarrely, when my boat did finally arrive in the little port, Nigel and Steve were nowhere to be seen, although their voices on my phone claimed that they were standing right in front of me.

How was this possible? Were they invisible? Had I slipped onto a parallel Earth? Had my longer boat journey somehow resulted in our both standing on the same spot at different moments in time, yet still eerily having a phone conversation across two different time-zones?

No, it turned out that Waiheke Island actually has two ferry terminals, and, yes, we were both scratching our heads on opposite sides of the island.

So we agreed a rendezvous-point, and I got the shuttle to the BP station in Oneroa, the driver very helpfully promising to pick me up again from here at 6 o’clock, and giving me a phone number to call in case I decided to change the pick-up location to the other ferry terminal. Now there’s service for you.

As I waited and browsed in the convenience store there, I couldn’t help but reflect that the limited supply of products on offer had all had to come across on the ferry too. Afterwards I lay down in the hot grass on the opposite side of the road and continued to wait for my friends to arrive. I was lazily starting to feel like I was on holiday.

Upon making contact, the three of us went to a café for brunch. I’d already had a big breakfast, so I just had a slice of cheesecake while Nigel and Steve tucked-into a big fry-up. When I took the following photo, we were joined by a fourth companion – can you spot them?

After an hour and a half discussing kiwi slang, we all agreed that we didn’t much feel like spending the whole hot day charging around getting tired, so it was down to the beach to snooze for another long while.

After that we visited a dual catholic / anglican church, before getting an ice cream and attempting to check the bus times.

Giving up on that we headed down to another totally deserted beach – the Esplanade – where we played Uno and again we all crashed-out for some more kip around a breakfast table.

At one stage I went looking for a toilet, only to find a road with two signs at each end that both read “TOILET” pointing at each other, with no personal convenience in-between. This struck me as a particularly cruel piece of town-planning. Some exploring revealed the toilet to actually be in the nearby park, however the assumption that you would guess to explore over there rather defeated the point of putting the signs up in the first place.

Along the way I spotted two people taking down the bus timetables and replacing them with updated ones. When the three of us thus had to check the times all over again, it occurred to me just how much this really did feel like I was getting away on holiday. I mean, when every single place on the bus timetable is unfamiliar, you know you’re some distance away from home.

At their ferry terminal, Steve bought us all a coffee, and we went our separate ways. The shuttle driver showed up to take me to the other terminal, and to protest about how his helpful colleague should never have made such a helpful offer this morning.

I added this to my growing list of instances when two different people, both using ‘logic,’ have arrived at two irreconcilably polarised answers. You can smugly talk about rules, laws and policies all you like, but none of them understands right and wrong.

Sitting on the ferry again watching the island scroll away in front of me, I’d had a much-needed relaxing day of nothing. I find it extremely hard to stop my brain turning over, but today I’d got away from the clutter of my everyday life, without much of an agenda other than to simply set-foot on the island.

Sometimes it’s great not to have a deadline.


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