My two cents (which I’m not giving to a cab driver)

Yeah, so I know every Melburnian has an opinion about this and opinions are like arseholes cos everyone has one, but only I have the edit rights to this blog so – stuff it. Time for me to mount that hobby horse.

My very first encounter with a Melbourne cab driver was on Collins St in 2004, on my second morning here. I was on the way to an interview and was told it was easy enough to get a cab to the interview location. I was in my high heels and pantihouse and brown pinstriped suit (it was the 2000s) and nervously waved at a cab who had stopped at a pedestrian crossing. It was a bright morning and even if I known that the top light being off meant they weren’t available I wouldn’t have been able to see it.

He wound his window down, looking at me over his glasses, and I asked very tentatively, ‘ah I don’t suppose you could take me to….’

‘I AM ON THE WAY TO A BOOKING YOU SILLY BITCH! CAN’T YOU SEE MY LIGHTS OFF?’ He screamed. Flecks of spit burst forth from his mouth in his fury as he yelled at me through the window. ‘CANT YOU SEEEEEEE???’

As he roared away in a cloud of diesel, I burst into tears. Great way to be the morning of an interview. I dried my eyes, crossed my fingers and got on the number 48 tram which neatly deposited me outside the building where I was having an interview. But it’s not something I have forgotten. (Got offered the job though, so that’s something).

I am afraid to tell you my experiences of cab drivers have not hugely improved since then.

Like the time that one played ear splitting trance music and couldn’t hear my pleas to turn the music down and put the back passenger window up (it was July), then was unable to find Edinburgh gardens (really).

The time they forgot my booking, so I was late to a wedding.

Or the time that a driver didn’t know where the MCG was.

Or perhaps the time that a driver was so incensed he had to make two drop offs after he had dropped my friend off, that he sped down a one way street in Fitzroy, flying over the speed humps. I got out – would have rather taken my chances walking another half a hour in the dark.

Or the time one tried to kiss me outside my flat in Richmond after I had passed out in the back (revolting, and no I didn’t report it. At the time I was in a rough patch and felt too much like it was my fault for being drunk.)

The most recent taxi experience was a corker though and just reinforces my reasons to take alternative transport. Work handed out cabcharges over the weekend we had to be in the office (fair), so I booked a cab to come and get me. This driver narrowly avoided a collision on Mt Alexander Road, then headed to Spring St end of Bourke, not Spencer as I said, (not once but THRICE.) ‘Oh sorry I thought you said Spring’ he said. This cab driver then handed me his business card and said he would love it if I considered his services in future. I just said, sorry, probably not, but thanks for the lift. (I’ve gotten more assertive in the last 13 years).

Just goes to show if you have a monopoly the quality of service goes way down. So yesterday when I read about the protest staged by the cab drivers out at the Tullamarine, I had a sincere ‘what the fuck’ moment. I am genuinely sorry for those people that have been stuffed about by extortionate taxi licenses handed out by the state government and this is affecting their livelihood. That sucks. But I can only speak as a customer, one who has suffered a few times, and one who opts for ubers when she can. We live in a free market economy that is consumer driven and this is what happens when competition is introduced. Step up, or move on. And blockading the airport, I fear, will not win you any  support either.


Letting off some steam

Things I would like to do right now, but for whatever reason, will not:
1. Tell Steve in the pod over from me that if I actually hear another thing about his new puppy Lola’s walking routine / bowel movements / vaccination schedule I will actually leap over the partition and beat him about the head with my keep cup;
2. Go home and sleep for 14 hours;
3. Wake up and see that my eyebags have mysteriously been removed and that I look normal, fresh faced and not the 47 years I currently feel / look;
4. Eat a whole loaf of fresh warm bread smeared with salty butter and vegemite.
5. Go to a café , sit down to a coffee with eggs and some salmon, and write some stuff.

Have not written anything remotely interesting for weeks with the transformational thingo at work. (See, even my words are suffering). It’s been training materials and other such stuff, and I feel non creative and uninspired. But have four days off coming up, and first I shall drink some wine and let off some steam.

Choose your own (weekend) adventure

Ah, finally it’s the weekend. Time to relax, rewind and recharge after chaotic work week. But wait, you have guests over for dinner on Friday night. Do you:

a. Feed them copious amounts of red wine
b. Have passionate debate about workplace equality
c. Introduce them to Cards Against Humanity or
d. All of the above?

You decide to retire at approx. 1 am; do you:

a. Take your contacts out, scrub face and put jarmies on
b. Face plant pillow but remember to take shoes off, or
c. Bed? Nah this patch of floor’ll do

You’re confronted with a hairy back next to your face when you wake up in the middle of the night. Do you:

a. Puzzle for several hung-over seconds and then suggest to husband he may want to head back to the girls down at BackSacknCrack salon
b. Realise your darling 32 kg dog has lodged himself between yourself and husband due to severe anxiety, or
c. Turn over. Probably just a nightmare anyway

You have high hopes for your productivity on Saturday. Do you:

a. Go for brisk walk in cold weather, then cook hearty vegetable rich meal?
b. Stay indoors and drag blankie from bed to infront of telly and sook for most of the day
c. Stomp around the house in your obi wan Kenobi dressing gown, or
d. Receive call regarding drinks in Croydon and make miraculous recovery?

Do you, at this moment, wish to

a. Find the lost jewels of Nabooti,
b. Return to atlantis, or
c: Return to the Cave of Time?

Green friends

Every morning I’d pull the bungalow door closed and set out on my way to the station, about half a mile away, up a leafy lane and through the village. To get to the lane I would have to walk around the cricket oval, at the back of which we lived. The bungalow was plain and furnished with all sorts of hand-me-downs, but it wasn’t the worst place to dwell. The rent was cheap, and we had no neighbours apart from the gang of swans who liked to hang out on the pitch covers on damp day. Every morning, as I walked around the oval, the club greenkeeper, a mild cheery man in his 60s, would already be at work, come rain or shine, and wave his customary good morning greeting at me, accompanied with ‘light of my life! There she is!’

Chris was recently retired, an elder at the cricket club, with a love of all things cricket and gardening. He drove a shiny BMW and had worked at Coutts as a banker to the extraordinarily rich and famous, but you wouldn’t have known this to talk to him. He had big bushy eyebrows, crinkly happy brown eyes and a shock of thick white hair. There was nothing pretentious about Chris; if I hadn’t known any better I would have thought green-keeping was his career. But I did know better, even in my 22 year old naiveté, and I knew that anyone who had even a passing association with one of the more prestigious cricket clubs in Surrey would not be gardening for an income. The people the cricket club were a mix of people from the village – stockbrokers, bankers and lawyers living in the dormitory shire while working in the City during the week. Their lives were private schools and wearing fascinators to church weddings on Saturdays, and holidays in Majorca or Marbella. And this is where I lived.

It was an odd friendship between a chubby gauche young woman and a retiree – but it was a close friendship. I didn’t see him as a kindly old uncle or a substitute for a father. He was just a friend. I’d take strong cups of tea out to Chris as he was working on the green; and at the end of the day I’d pull him a pint of London pride and he would tell me everything he had done that day and how the pitch was looking for that weekend. We both enjoyed those chats.

On pleasant evenings we would sit in the hazy English twilight; I’d smoke my silk cut and he’d tell me stories about Coutts and banking with the royals; and the London fog of 1952. Sometimes we just sat in companionable silence as the midges came down to feed. And sometimes he’d tell jokes regarding her indoors and I’d tell him about how I missed New Zealand and the hopes I had once we went back. I thought of marriage and of children. My partner was thinking the same thing – but he wasn’t planning any of those things with me. He was the reason I was living at the cricket club. Once he ended things, I couldn’t remain there in the UK; and the day I left I went and said goodbye to Chris, who was watering the middle pitch, as usual.

‘I’m sorry darling’, he said. ‘I’m not very good at saying goodbyes’. We hugged and I pretended not to see the tears in his warm brown eyes. I think he murmured something about keeping in touch but we both knew quite well that was probably not realistic. My ex would soon move my successor into the place I had occupied with breathtaking speed and I knew that I would never see that place again. In most ways that suited me, but I missed one friend.

And every time I have been back to England since (a few) I have thought about looking him up, but I haven’t.

Sometimes friends really are for only a season, literally; or a reason. But I’ll remember this one for a lifetime.

Fully sick

It probably takes longer than a week to facilitate a completely new mental health outcome in terms of being grateful (although I think overall it has been useful). This week has tested my patience though – I have been sick for the last four days – chills on the plane and a dry sore throat on Monday morning morphed into full blown fluid-on-lungs chest infection. Feeling sick but moreover, bored AF. However, some kind person has uploaded the Flying Doctors onto youtube, so have been comforting myself with that inbetween taking decongestant and guzzling lemsip. So today I am grateful for The Flying Doctors being on youtube, the wonderful wonderful hairdos (hairspray and perms FTW), and how romantic it made the outback look. (I met Robert Grubb once, and he would have to be the nicest celebrity I’ve ever met).

Missed a day 

Somewhat busy yesterday, with a friend’s wedding and all that. Gorgeous day, the warm blue sky and the autumn leaves, and then a stunning vivid night, with the stars in the inky sky. There was dancing and cake and laughter and photos and speeches and friends and much love, all of which I’m so very very grateful for.