Aussie Rules Football Virgin

Published 25 March 2012 by Miss Dilly

Australian Rules Football is huge.  Every man, woman and child watch the Grand Final in Australia, except of course for those that don’t…regardless, it’s a big deal.  For those of you unfamiliar with the sport, it has some similarities to American Football, and absolutely no similarity to what most of the rest of the world considers football (aka soccer).  Aussie Rules is fast moving, chaos where they score points and it involves very muscular young men in tight, short, shorts running around.  It’s fantastic really.

So I was in Australia during the climax of this national sport.  The day of the Grand Final I’m walking around a in a suburb of Melbourne and I see a sign at a restaurant saying ‘help wanted- inquire within’.  I was just visiting, but I kind of wanted to find a job to make a little extra money.  I inquire within.  I spoke to a rather tall, large man of 30 or so years who asks what I’m doing that night.  I had to choose between making a few bucks and watching the Grand Final on TV.  In a panic (decisions!), I blurt “nothing”, crass money wins again.  So he says I can come in for a paid trial. It was just a sport, which I really knew nothing about, so might as well try to get a job.

I arrive promptly at 5:00 at the restaurant. I’m led to the kitchen in the back, it’s kind of quiet.  A server told me to go in the back and look for the man I met earlier, we’ll call him George.  I walk into the blindly bright kitchen and ask for if George is around. A young man doing prep nods toward a hallway on the side and says he’s probably out there.  I start to walk down a dark hallway, I was about to put my hand up to the wall to sense where I was going, but there was just enough light to see the wall and I decided to risk tripping, bumping or squashing something in lieu of touching the wall.  Down the hall there was a store room and a door a jar, I open it.  I had just opened the door on quite the vignette; three men huddled around the small outside space.  The only thing making it seem less like a boy scouts meeting and more like a Godfather scene was the cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. As I opened the door the conversation stopped immediately, despite me feeling of uncomfortableness I say “I’m looking for George”. The guy I had met earlier got an expression on his face that looked like he picked the shortest straw and then realized it was worm.  I’d found my mark. He leads me back to the kitchen, I don’t know what it was about him, maybe his stature maybe the faint scent of smoke he emitted or maybe the snaggle tooth and eye patch (that he didn’t have, but based on his personality I think he could have worked the look pretty well) that made me uneasy.  He hands me over to another man who is person who will be giving me directions from now on. Apparently, I was already a handful.  I’d be washing dishes and doing prep work.

The Boys

The Boyscouts (if you can use your imagination to mix the two of these)

The grand final was being broadcasted on the radio.  There area few other younger guys in the back doing some prep work and then putting plates together.  We all listened in respectful silence to the match and no one could touch the radio except the main chef who was one of ‘the boys’. I felt very out of place amongst these guys, I looked around at the thought of returning to this kitchen and nearly put my head in the industrial dishwasher. Now you may be thinking I‘m exaggerating and was being introverted, and you would be right.  But cross my heart, it felt very much like I would need some sort of initiation involving candles and tall buildings before they would accept me being there and actually carry on a conversation.

I focused on working, the only thing that broke up the mundane work was listening to the game, it turned out be an exciting match.  I was rooting for the Geelong Cats.  I wasn’t quite familiar enough with game to picture what they were describing so most of what was being said sounded like something like this: “Mulligan runs around Randall for the kill, releves towards the backside of the queen and somersaults for the crowd, the crowd goes crazy he runs like a snake on a barbie and ends with a beautiful butterfly finish- two and three-quarters points for Geelong”.  It sounded like the appropriate time for me to ‘woo hoo’, so I did, quietly.  And I continued to listen and enjoy what few words I could manage to understand.

What I didn't get to see..

I was cutting up an assortment of herbs as the game was finishing up.  One of the servers, who stopped in to get a listen when he could, missed the end. He asked me who won and I told him Geelong. I asked which team he was barracking for and he seemed slightly surprised that I knew anything about Aussie rules football.  For a brief moment I thought maybe I could pull off being ‘one of the guys’, but that feeling quickly faded as a streak of panic crossed over me- I thought I may have told him the wrong team won. And as I went back to cutting my herbs I listened with the fine-tuned skill that many of us master in relationships- selective listening.  Who knew it would come in handy? But I listened intently for key words, luckily I told him the right team! If I hadn’t I think I probably would have been hoisted then and there right out of the restaurant, banned for life from the establishment anywhere within 25 feet.

So I got to spend my first experience with Australian Rules Football was in the back of a hot kitchen with a bunch of sweaty guys.  While it would have been nice to actually see the match, it was still the saving grace for a rather miserable evening. And by the way the restaurant never called me back, can’t say I was surprised- my herb cutting left a lot to be desired.

Over Night, Part II

Published 18 March 2012 by Miss Dilly

[continued from previous post, with the medium sized cliff hanger, where you probably would survive if you let go]

However, with the bridge in sight and the panic attack going off in my head he pulls the bus over to a dark building with a couple of cars in the lot.

After ‘adieus’ and my purposefully tripping over the bag in the isle, as to make sure everyone remembered me, he walks me inside the hostel.  It is a small lobby decorated in youthful eco-looking chairs and happy backpacker posters.  He finds a small envelope with my name on it, hands it to me and says thanks for coming and if I want there’s a bar just over the bridge about half a mile.  Cool – I would love to walk in the dark by myself over a bridge with no foot path to the bar, excellent suggestion. Never the less those were his final words as he leaves me standing there in the dead quiet hostel in the black night. I watched the bus drive away through the glass doors and then I opened the envelope.  A cheery note and a keycard to get in through the next doors was all that was in the envelope on it.

I had felt like it was kind of lonely, but I was actually glad that it was just me and the cheery posters watching me, I mean who knew a piece of plastic trying to recognize another piece of plastic would be so difficult.  After jiggling the door and the required kick to the door that all electronic equipment require I “beeped in”.  On the other side of the door there were no rooms insight, only another door- who I am supposed to be, Barbie from Secret Agent Barbie for Gameboy?  I beeped in with more skill and my brain registered the sign that said Close Door Carefully after 9’o clock as I let the door slam, that’s how I roll after 9 pm (I’m generally a morning person). The door opened to a cold, dimly lit stairwell with my only option being up.  So up I went up, coming around the first corner I thought maybe an evil Ken would jump out at me, or at least a Kelly minion with green eyes.  Oh well, I wondered where my privileged keycard would take me next.

I probably should mention that I hadn’t stayed in a hostel in a very long time, and much less by myself so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  When I found my floor I opened the door to a bright space that had a hallway with room door and then another door on my left to the kitchen and lounge area.  Even though I was exhausted, I couldn’t help myself; I beeped my way into the kitchen.  My curiosity was satisfied with a whole two and half minutes of looking through the other lodgers’ groceries and resisting the temptation to take a cookie.

It’s still very quiet, I haven’t passed another soul I find my room and beep in like a pro.  It’s dark, I stand in the doorway for a minute waiting for signs of life.  I don’t hear anything, my eyes are adjusting to the darkness and I all I can see is a disheveled, but empty bunk bed.  I’m alone, I switch on the lights.  My eyes do a quick survey of the room, to meet another pair of eyes watching me.  A youngish man is in the far bunk bed and he looked greatly disturbed, and then I quickly switch off the lights and say ‘Sorry!’  I wasn’t expecting a guy, I thought hostels separated by gender in the sleeping areas quarters.  He says it’s alright I can turn the lights back on if I need; he just has to get up early to bike the next day.  He turns over and I say “okay, thanks” and turn the lights back on, set down my backpack. I feel rushed now, like I didn’t really belong there, the guide sure didn’t think so.  I feel like he’s watching me, so quickly take out things to change into, my toothbrush and my keycard that I’ve grown so attached to and go to the bathroom.  I soon return to the room, I get into the available bed.  I look at the other empty bed and wonder who is sleeping there.  I am hoping it’s a girl, this guy in the bed right across from me makes me think of some sort of eighties slasher movie where the antagonist is a mysterious biker targeting hostels.  And knowing my luck I’d be the first victim that illustrates how evil this guy is, not the lovely surviving heroine that wears cute little shorts and a tank top when she goes to bed, I was wearing sweatpants for god sakes- I didn’t have a chance!

I’m finally relaxing and falling asleep when our door is opened and another young man opens the door.  Fantastic.  He doesn’t turn the light on just rustles around some and then gets into bed.  Now I’m the creepy one watching, well at least that is a real twist to the story, I could definitely consider taking on the bad-guy role.  I’m starting to fall asleep again when there’s a loud beep of a cellphone proceeded by the clickity-clack of a keys which comes from our newest arrival.  So, no slashers to end this story, just the inconsiderate new generation of travelers who just have to know that Gary is eating a sandwich now.

Over Night, Part I

Published 15 March 2012 by Miss Dilly

One hostel, one night, one room, one girl.  This is a survival story, with a less than threatening plot and extremely imagined danger to my life.  With that said, it’s a mildly amusing story.

I had been on a full day tour trip in Australia to a place called Phillip’s Island. I signed up for a two day tour where you stay overnight in a hostel nearby, however I only found out after that I was the only one signed up to do so. The rest in the group of 25 were going back to the city. The next day I would be picked up by another tour guide and a new group of people.  The main event on Phillip’s Island is hundreds of little penguins coming in from the ocean to their home in burrows on the surrounding hilly area.  They come in around sunset and after dark.  While the day was chocked full of fun and the penguins were downright adorable, that isn’t the main part of my story – for today.  By the time penguins came in and everyone got their full enjoyment stalking the little creatures, the tour group was getting ready to drive back to the city by 9:30pm.

The guide was a 20 something guy with a black cap and an pseudo enthusiastic attitude that said ‘I like you guys because I’m getting paid but I hate this late night gig where I could be kicking back with my mates and drinking a few beers instead.’ I mean yes, tour groups are uncool.  Actually they’re checking out the flabby back side of uncool with envy; they scream tourist and practically ask to be subjected to commercialism at least fifty times throughout the day, not to mention putting up with your co-travelers where you always get that one person who wants to be tour guide and tell everyone, everything they don’t actually know.  On the flip side, tour groups also bring together such a variety of people from all over the world that there really could be a tour group to tour the tour group.  So if you’ve already weighed your options and have decided a tour group is the way to go, you pay all that money to stick out like a sore thumb and take a few thousand pictures then you want an enthusiastic guide that can tell you a few interesting tidbits.

Now, honestly I wasn’t sure exactly how the whole overnight thing was going to work and the more I talked to the others I thought maybe I joined the wrong tour and there was no overnight stay. So I approached the laissez-faire guide and ask about the situation around 3 in the afternoon.

Him: Oh yeah! That’s right, I’m not sure, let me look at my papers.

Me: Okay cool.

Him: Yeah so actually after this I’ll be taking you to the hostel

Me: [I nod contemplatively] Really? I thought I signed up to go the penguins today

Him: Oh right, you’re doing The Prom tomorrow. Okay yeah so after the penguin I’ll drop you off at the hostel.

Me: Thanks

His lack of information left me feeling weary, but I got on with the rest of day quite well.  As we’re getting started on the drive back to the city, I have my fingers crossed that he would remember to drop me off.  His announcements pre-departure that night included no mention of that portion, so I was concerned.  I would be staying on the island for the night, and as we neared bridge that would lead off the island I contemplated saying something, but I decided to wait until we were off the island, I didn’t want insult him. Although based on the day’s events I wouldn’t put it past him to forget.

[Because it’s kind of a long story I broke it up.  I’m sure every reader will be absolutely nail-biting in anticipation as they wait- will he remember?  If you aren’t, I understand, but I will still be posting Part II in a couple days.  Cheers] 

Taking the Bus

Published 10 March 2012 by Miss Dilly

I enjoy taking the bus, it’s nothing less than live theatre, packed with action, drama, a few laughs and involves the audience. The entire bus experience starts with the walk to your bus stop.  On this occasion it was a Saturday morning in Seattle.  With my friend who was the one who knew the bus system we walked to the stop in crisp weather.  We had to side step a disheveled couple that appeared to be holding hands instead of strategically separating to make use all four arms to carry the weighty grocery bags. Some people like to live on the edge.  I also choose to believe they were holding hands as a front act like everything’s fine after just fighting over which can of peas his mother actually likes better (I’m sure she reminded him of the last Pea Incident, where they still have to tell their friends that the stain was from the dog which they don’t have any more for some reason unknown to their friends).  So we’re a couple minutes early to the stop, we’re waiting with a college looking guy with a classic literary book that he looks like he probably uses to hide his cellphone while he checks facebook in the library and an older woman going through her mammoth handbag looking for a bobby pin, I’m sure.

I get out my quarters, since I was only visiting Seattle for the weekend I had to pay the old fashion way, I’d even get a transfer that I’d have to keep track of for the entire day.  I was counting out my money and doing a little self pep talk because my last experience on the bus in Seattle went something like this:

I start putting in quarters, but am unsure how much it actually costs to ride the bus. My two friends with their savvy swipe cards had already walked to the back of the bus.  So I look up at the bus driver, he’s already annoyed that I am paying with quarters instead of swiping a card.  There is a shuffle of feet behind me and a middle aged man uncomfortably watching me from the front row seat.  It appears that he has a standing dibs on the spot and rides the bus from the first stop to the last.  I smile look friendly as possible and say “how much is a ticket? I’m a student?” When in doubt I always throw in the student bit, it’s some kind of apology to society. That I obviously just don’t know what I’m doing yet and probably just drink too much on the weekend thought it would be way hipster to pay with something called cash. And despite the blatant stereotyping, one can really get some attitude out in the world and by admitting to being a student you somehow admit that you’re not a full-fledged citizen yet, so it’s okay.  Obviously it’s a load of bull and maybe a slight exaggeration to the average joe, but I have had instances of success for claiming my student-ship and receive a knowing resolution expression on the face I tell.  So I can use the stereotype to my advantage, when need be. Unfortunately that was not the case for today, the bus driver literally said nothing to me.  He looked at me narrowed his eyes and gripped the steering wheel until he looked like he should start talking to someone named Marty, his liger copilot, instead he grunted and nodded towards the coin slot.  I put in all the quarters I had, took the transfer and dashed to the back of the bus.  I gave my friends dirty looks and said how could you ditch me back there, I was nearly mauled by his liger! I put in $2.25 and later I find out my ticket should have only been $1.25, as a student.  Okay a dollar may not seem like much, but to a poor, fake hipster, not actually drunk student who could use that dollar to actually buy a day old scone it was a big deal.  I was resolved not to let this happen again- I had considered going to the group therapy meeting for the victims of Seattle Bus Bullying held downtown once a week, but thought I’d brave the scene once more to right this wrong, like a true city rat.  And that’s where this fine Saturday morning bus ride comes in.

Yes, this is me as I boarded the bus

The bus pulls up. I do the first step right, hold my ground as some young bouncy women walks up and wants to get on in front of me.  Somehow (and by that I mean I actually didn’t really hold my ground against the pushy public) my friend and I get separated, she looks back and I reach out, but we’re just too many smelly bus-riders away from each other, she had to go on without me.  It was better this way, I had to complete my quest alone.  I step up to the plate.  I look at the coin feeder, don’t put any money, look up at the bus driver without smiling and attempt to have a look in my eye that says ‘I’ve battled your kind before and I’m not afraid’ (which may have come off more like ‘the crap doughnut I didn’t have this morning isn’t settling well with me’) and said how much is a ticket for a student? He replies with a frog in his throat ‘a dollar twenty-five’ and not a word more. I put in my quarters and started to walk to the back of the bus, in which I could only imagine was slow-motion, until the beautiful victory scene was broken by a grunt coming from my nemesis and I turn around quick (should never have your back to the enemy) and see my transfer waving like a truce flag.  Oops, I back up, bumping into the passenger trying to get on behind me. I didn’t want to be soft, the legendary stories don’t normally end with a smile and a thanks, but then again legends don’t normally have to get back on the next day and trust their lives in the hands of highly irritable middle aged men driving the population of tomorrow.

Hello, Goodbye

Published 15 August 2011 by Miss Dilly

Last week I went to knit night, there were some of the usual suspects in attendance.  But that evening there was new character.  There were a few of us sitting next to each other all intently knitting and missing the entire purpose of going to knit night (If I didn’t want to talk to anyone or even hear anyone talk I would without hesitation stay in my own sanctuarty to knit madly.  But if I make the effort to get dressed, gather my scattered knitting and drive, I do intended to converse with someone if it kills the both of us which it probably does in most cases.) So, I struck up a conversation with this new face. Turns out she was a student visiting from out-of-state for just a week or so.  We got on well, talking about knitting (always a safe topic), school and our intended goal out of life (routine conversation at our age and not nearly as heavy-duty as such a topic maybe should be). Come 8 o’clock we pack up our things and she turns to me and says, ‘well, goodbye!’  Bye I said cheerily.  Interesting, no?  But really- as I walked back to my car I thought I will never see hCrowder again, to know how her life goals turned out and it isn’t really sad or surprising just a funny realization.  As I thought about it though, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I don’t want to know what happened, it was an enjoyable encounter and it’s just right to be left at that. 

Like this knit night phantom, most people we do encounter we never come to know, and even more people we never meet at all.  We’re all faces in the crowd and that’s great.