Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

On day one of this trip, my flight from Auckland to Brisbane had been a bit of an adventure. Then on day two, my flights from Brisbane to Port Macquarie via Sydney had, if anything, been a bit more of one. Fortunately, my flight today from Port Macquarie back down to Sydney again all went smoothly. Well, apart from that Klingon Bird Of Prey vessel that suddenly decloaked off our port bow…

Still, after I'd landed, collected my backpack, and successfully exited Sydney Domestic Airport, I was relieved that this leg of my trip had all gone perfectly according to plan.

I got to a payphone and rang my host in Sydney - Fionnuala. She was a little surprised, having not been sure whether I was actually coming today, but duly gave me instructions on the two trains that I had to catch. Well, this should be easy.

Putting down the phone, I went to the ATM machine to get some cash out for the fare.

Ever been to the ATM machine and been surprised to be told that you have no credit available?

What about in another country?

I couldn't make sense of it. I was certain that I had plenty of cash in there, but as many a science-fiction protagonist will tell you, you just can't argue with a machine.

Okay, alone in Australia with almost no local currency left. My emergency reserve of NZ cash had mostly gone in Brisbane with all my earlier hassles, but I still had a few NZ coins and things left about my person. There was no alternative - I would just have to pool everything in my pockets and convert it at a bureau de change. Hey - I was standing just outside an airport after all, so just how many dozens of such booths on this side of the security gates would I likely have to choose from?

Having ascertained that the answer was in fact significantly less than every positive number, I realised that my only chance of finding one within walking distance was now to continue my search back inside the terminal. In other words, I had to go all the way back through security again, with all my luggage getting re-x-rayed, including all my film. Sheesh, I'd been looking forward to eating something about now.

Once through the metal detector, I went to retrieve my backpack, only for a security guy to approach and dumbly hand me a plaque to read. It informed me that, as usual, I had just been randomly selected to be searched. Oh, just get on with it.

I didn't like this. As well as the worry about all the multiple x-rays that my films were getting subjected to, I didn't much like my hard drive's chances against the metal-detector that he was casually waving in my bag.

Still, since he didn't seem to speak much English (hence the plaque I guess), there was little I could do.

Heaving the bag onto my back again, I made my way upstairs to find the nearest bureau de change. I walked through the whole of Sydney Domestic Airport, so I can tell you with confidence that there definitely is one. In fact, there literally is one. And the attendant had left a cardboard clock in the window telling me that he would be back in an hour. And then he wasn't.

To add insult to injury - and hunger - I was now sitting on the floor of the same food court where I had wasted so much time two days ago changing from Brisbane for Port Macquarie. Boy, this time I really felt like I was Tom Hanks.

Was this bureau de change guy (or girl) ever going to come back? Might I have to wait here until 9:30am tomorrow? I was getting quite angry with hunger, heat and exhaustion, when I noticed that the zip on my backpack had broken, exposing my belongings to whoever was standing behind me.

Oh, great. So now I couldn't even carry my luggage. If ever a day had slowly ground me to a complete physical halt, then this was it.

Presently, the unlucky teller did return. I kept telling myself not to be angry with him. I reminded myself that I believed in making the world a happier place, not a more miserable one. And yet, I just couldn't fake the smile. So I told him my tale of woe, manipulatively hoping for some sympathy.

It worked!

Without my even drawing attention to it, he apologised for having kept me waiting, and said he would do the best that he was allowed to to charge me a lower commission for the currency conversion. I later read the receipt and discovered that he had waived the commission entirely.

Then he suggested that I go through my luggage looking for any other coins that I might have which he could likewise convert.

Then he asked me to hold my bag up to the slit in the window, so that he could mend the zip for me.


In a moment he had undergone the transformation from being the subject of my scorn to becoming a public service hero! This guy really was going the extra mile to serve the person rather than the customer.

By the time that I was on my way again, with an encouraging sum of Ozzie dollars and a risen-from-the-dead backpack, I still wasn't sure if I had quite enough money for the train fare all the way to Fionnuala's station, but I sure felt more positive about it.

Fortunately I did have enough cash. Unfortunately, the journey still took over another hour.

Upon reaching my final stop, I texted Fionnuala from the payphone outside the station for her to drive out and collect me. She never received the text. So having waited there for maybe another hour, I can't tell you what a relief it was to spot her swinging her car by the station on the off-chance. That's right - Fio was actually on her way to her brother Gerald's, so I would still have maybe another hour to go before finally eating something.

Still, it was great to be back amongst my Sydney friends again. Most of them probably don't even remember me from last time six years ago, but I remember them, so it was great to hear Gerald's voice on the phone, and rock up at the same house where I'd done my laundry that day in '05.

When, on the way back, we then returned to the same railway station to pick up Scottish Dave after his late shift, I slid down in my seat to hide and surprise him. He literally didn't bat an eyelid. After all, what was the big deal? We seem to see each other most years now.

Presently, we did arrive home, I did eat, and I did solve the mystery of my ATM problems. Heh-heh, y'know, silly me, it turned out that I hadn't left enough money in there…

Return To Oz episode #1
Return To Oz episode #2
Return To Oz episode #3
Return To Oz episode #4
Return To Oz episode #6
Return To Oz episode #7


0 comment(s):

Post a Comment

<< Back to Steve's home page

** Click here for preceding post(s) **

** Click here for following post(s) **