Monday, December 10, 2012

Heavy Rigid Licence gets Light

Today involved a lot of forward motion. I leave behind a job that wasn't making me particularly happy, I got my licence to drive trucks and buses and, best of all, I helped somebody who needed it.

An early start after an ordinary sleep and I took off in my tiny van for one of Melbourne's least glamourous suburbs in Somerton to spend the day in a truck/classroom. Anxiety was rife. Fail? Succeed? Nowhere to have lunch? A cruel and picky instructor? Trying to be mindful I enjoyed the challenge of steering the metallic hulk around the industrial north. I also made chit chat with the other two blokes training with me. We couldn't have been three more different fellas... a forty-something business owner named Bruce, a slick-but-over-an-hour-late twenty-something named Nada and me, a thirty two year old teacher with the summer ahead of me and some choices to make. Named Dave.

Anyway... as the day rolled by it became apparent that Nada was in a rough state. He didn't speak much and kept his sunglasses down most of the time. During a smoko break I interrupted him scribbling on the back of his driver handbook and asked him where he was from. He told me he was Lebanese. He didn't proffer up too much so I kept on gently digging. Here it is... he came out here four years ago on his own and speaking no English, he arrived late this morning because he came straight from night shift (hence the rough state) for a catering company, he has 'over 500 friends' because he's a barber and made them whilst cutting hair, he learnt his English as a night club bouncer after he tried an English school but lasted only two lessons when the teacher was more interested in learning Turkish from the other students than teaching Nada, when he first arrived he was amazed to see people kissing in the street and wondered why their mother or father weren't present. In Tripoli, he insinuated this would have you beaten or locked up, he's happy here because there is 'too much war there' but 'it's just different here'. Oh... the scribble on the back of his book was his name in Arabic. I asked him if he would write my name in Arabic in my book for me and he carefully and respectfully wrote my name then explained that he wrote it 'professionally' and that most people would write it differently... then quickly scrawled my name in his book. We'd made a little connection.

As the assessments went on it turned out that Nada did the written assessment whilst I was doing my driven assessment. I returned and he was just finishing when I was starting. Soon after, the instructor came in and announced that he'd got 18 wrong from 32 questions. The maximum wrong answers permitted is 6. However, you are allowed to go over the test once and make any corrections you see fit. Nada looked defeated physically and mentally. He's probably experienced worse troubles in his life. I then caught him trying to peak at my page. I turned my page a little so he could see. Then... the instructor left the room in a tizz over some missing document and it was on. Nada asked me what my answer was to the third question... then the fourth... my heart sank a little as it was clear that he couldn't really understand all the questions and the little nuances that the writers put in to catch you out. I started reading out my answers quietly without looking at him and said that we can't end up with the same score. He knew what I meant and we stopped with a few questions to go. The instructor came back and he handed up his page and I handed mine up a minute later. The man lined up his plastic grid with the little holes over Nada's page and in a surprised tone announced 'Just. 5 wrong. Passed. Just.' I gave Nada a wink and the defeat was gone.

Now... you might be thinking that I've actually done Nada and the rest of the road users a 'bad turn' by helping him through the test. You might not. Maybe you can understand. I can only imagine being in his shoes.

I got home and went for a run. I slogged it up the hill and 20 or 30 butterflies were attracted to my shirt and joined me for a minute or two.

It's today. Enjoy it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Oh, hai!

Back again! So, soon I won't have a job. That's fine by me, my choice, and they're going to pay me over the summer. Wouldn't it be nice to pack up and head off somewhere? Yes, yes it would. Maybe buy some wheels too. Anyway I'll wait and see which way the wind blows.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


I have a job. I imagine baby sitters do a good job bossing around 7 year olds. The dynamic changes somewhat when the kids are teenage boys and there are 22 of them. They certainly know how to glue up key holes, bash holes in walls, swear, lie, fight and steal. It's a strange job but fun none-the-less. Four nights on then two off which means I get the middle of the day off to improve my golf game. My contract doesn't stipulate that I play golf but, hey, I don't mind going above and beyond the call of duty.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tennis anyone?

The heat from the day can be felt through the soles of your thongs. The blasting and flashing of the tellys through open windows reminds you that the tennis is on. People on their verandahs sipping beer and having a chat are ignoring the tennis. The heat radiating from the wall that spends each afternoon baking in the setting sun invites a young kid to play tennis against it. He turns down the invite and stays at home. He stays in his room. He doesn't even have a tennis racquet. Why would he even be invited? Well, it's an open invite. The wall has played host to decades of kids and their racquets. Times have changed. It's on the telly. He can't muster the motivation to get out and do something. His mum wouldn't let him anyway. Still, she doesn't have to worry about the permission for this one. He wasn't going to ask. The street remains empty except for the flashing and blasting of the tellys. The heat from the day can still be felt through the soles of your thongs.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
- Steven Weinberg

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Back in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Aotearoa. NZ. Choice! My mate Gaz is getting married on the weekend and my duties involve getting a little bit drunk then using the microphone then continuing with the getting drunk bit. Shouldn't be too hard me thinks. I've had some practice at both the tasks and generally have passed with flying beers. I do have a bit of time to kill in NZ which is never a bad thing. I caught the bus up to Paihia in the Bay of Islands. I booked 3 nights accomm and made no plans. This morning was clear so I walked down the road, stuck the thumb out and started hitch hiking north for a little bit of a squiz. NZ is not a hard place to hitch around and the majority of the rides were Maori folks being completely awesome to me.
Here's a wee round up:
Ride One: Papa Joe picked me up and promptly offered for me to stay at his place... but only for 3 weeks. Any longer and he'd have to give me the boot (laughs).
Ride Two: Kingi and Mike pick me up and tell me of the wild beef they'd just killed and sold to some mates down south for $400. They then rued that they didn't flog it off for more and reckon it was close to $1600 worth of beef. Mike was concerned at me getting too chilly and GAVE me the jumper he was wearing. "Ah don't worry about it bro, I've got heaps more clothes". It was a grey turtle neck. I wore it.
Ride Three: Five large Maoris pulled up and told their kid to jump in the back of the 4WD then gave me the front seat. They offered up sandwiches and a good laugh. Then we ran out of petrol.
Ride Four: The smallest car in NZ gave me a short ride. I was squashed in the back seat with 3 others. Boozed up Nana (complete with wine glass in hand) in the front seat with some awesome tattoos on her chin was quick to point out the All Blacks won the World Cup. I said "All Blacks! Shit yeah!" and the car cheered for about five minutes.

Photo of me in grey turtle neck to come.