Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Disasters come in threes (a long and not so interesting account of my disastrous trip home last Thursday)

Or sometimes they come in more than three - but generally by the time it gets to 3 I don't have enough patience left to keep counting. Take last Thursday for example. It was a good day, it started out well. The girls at work had a suprise tea party for me to say congrats for the recent engagement (hurrah engagement!) with all sorts of tea, lovely teapots and cupcakes - cupcakes! Any day that contains cupcakes is better than a day without cupcakes - it's a guaranteed recipce for success.

Well... except that I was still homeless, and now homeless and planning a wedding, and planning a wedding without my computer or any solid google time.. well, it was getting me down a bit. A fair bit.

I met up with Chris after work. On the train to meet Chris I realised that my flowers (did I mention that the girls gave me flowers? Yay, cupcakes and flowers!) had a little passenger - a little baby snail. Ohh! The poor little guy. I decided to keep him safe and let him out when I got back to Katy's place in Enmore, as there are some good trees in the vacant block next door.

Chris and I were meant to meet at the Lindt cafe, and I waited there for a while. Turns out it was closed, which was a bit sad. Then it started raining, and what with holding the flowers in one hand and looking after the snail also - I didn't have a spare hand to hold my umbrella, so I just got wet. And waited. Chris was stuck on a bus in heavy traffic, so I waited on the corner in the rain for a while, before deciding to sit on a bench in the rain instead - why not choose a small amount of comfort after all.

After about ten minutes Chris called me and asked me to meet him on Pitt st instead - which cast panic into my heart. You may have read previous blog posts before about my complete lack of any spatial awareness or geographical ability... there's just no internal compass with me! No mental map! I stood on the corner and looked around wildly - Pitt St coudl be ANYWHERE. I picked a direction and walked, kept walking, and was not at all suprised when I came to a dead end at George st. Getting really wet, flustered and tired of being lost, I called Chris and told him where I was, that I wasn't going to move anymore, and asked him to come to me. Bless him, he obviously heard the wild note in my voice and came.

We had a hot chocolate in Starbucks (you can always find a Starbucks, even when you're lost, this is immensely comforting) before he had to dash off to football. I walked with him to the train station so I would be able to find the station and not get lost - by the time I got to the station I realised that actually I didn't need to go to the train station, as it would have been faster for me to have caught a bus. Still, taking a deep breath, I told myself that a train was still an option, so I jumped on and went to Central.

I can never get the exits and tunnels right at Central. I kept going down the wrong stairs from the platform, coming back up, trying another one, coming back up - okay, so now I know it's the stairs closest to the front of the train, but I swear I spent about 10 fruitless minutes trying to get to the right underground part of Central to get me to the tunnel that goes to my bus stop.

As I was walking over to the bus stop at Central there was a bus there, but it was raining and slippery so I didn't run.

Note to self: bad idea! Just as Trillian learned to always, always go back for your handbag, I have now determined to always, always run for the bus. It might look undignified, but a bus in the station is worth 2 down the road that never come and if they do they're already full. If you know what I mean, and I think you do.

So I didn't run, and it left, and I stood in the rain for a while waiting for a bus. One came, I just managed to fit on, and off we went. For about 2 blocks, and then the bus pulled up with a jerk, the bus driver swore very loudly and jumped off the bus. All eyes followed him as he ran around the side of the bus and started shouting at a truck who had just run into the back corner of the bus. *sigh*

At first the bus driver told us that we couldn't get off the bus as we were parked across a sidestreet. After a few minutes of some loudmouths remonstrating with him though, he opened the doors again and let everyone off. I was up the front so I trotted to the next bus stop, a handy 10 metres away, and waited.

And then watched as the other seventy people got off the bus and stood in front of me.

And then watched as the next two buses sailed past as as they were already full.

And then decided to get a taxi.

So I walked up the road looking for a taxi and not seeing any. Realised I didn't have enough cash to pay a taxi even if I got one, so ducked into a nearby pub to find an ATM. Getting money out turned out to be a tricky operation, it went like this:
* put flowers down
* try to open handbag, realise iPod headphones are wound around strap
* take iPod off, wind up headphone leads, put in bag
* rescue sunglasses which got dislodged by taking iPod off
* get wallet out, get cash out, put wallet back in bag
* put iPod back on
* put sunglasses back on head
* leave pub
* walk back into pub, pick flowers up
* exit pub again, this time with sunglasses on to hide embarassment at having to come back in for wayward flowers

So I walked up the main road (which road? I have no idea) looking for a taxi. Lots of traffic, lots of full buses that weren't stopping, no taxi's. Eventually one stopped and let people off right in front of me, so I jumped in. I tell the driver the address - he barely speaks English and doesn't know where the street is. I ask him if he has a GPS? (Come on buddy, it's not my job to drive people around and I have a GPS!) But he says no. I take my seatbelt off and prepare to get out of the car, at which case he sees that I'm serious and grabs a dusty old street directory out from under his seat and says that he'll find it.

All of a sudden the traffic stops, and I mean stops. We're not going anywhere. Occasionally we crawl forward a carpsace or two and then stop again. The meter is ticking on... after $9.50 of not moving, I decide to cut my losses, give the driver a $10 note and hop out. Into the rain.

Juggling my handbag, flowers and umbrella, and by now in a filthy mood, I decide to walk home. And it's not too bad. There are the normal number of people with inordinately large umbrellas who forget that there are sharp pointy bits on the ends of umbrellas that you need to keep way from other people, but mostly once people see the thunderous look on my face they stay clear.

About 3 blocks up I pass the reason for the traffic jam, the police are loading a car onto a tow truck and have a 4-way intersection closed off. As I walk past the scene they get it loaded up, the truck drives away and the traffic surges through. I shoot a dirty look at the taxi as it drives past me smugly. (It might not actually have driven smugly, but let's just say that for some dramatic tension)

After walking for about 10 minutes and getting wetter and wetter all of a sudden a bus stops right in front of me. "Halleluiah!" I think, and, taking it as a sign that this bus is specifically sent for me, I hop on. And there is 1 seat left - just for me! Things are working out. The seat is right at the back. I lurch down the aisle and sit down. The girl next to me needs to get off at the next stop so I let her out and then sit back down. As the bus is taking off after her stop - I look out the window and realise that was my stop!! *sigh*

I get off at the next stop and walk back up. Eventually I make it to Katy's place, after the longest and most disaster-filled journey home on record. (I stopped counting, was it more than 3?) Katy lends me a vase and I unwrap the flowers and then I discover that the snail is gone. And - for some reason - this strikes me as even sadder than all the disasters that had happened that evening. The poor little guy - I wanted to give him a new home and instead he was probably somewhere in the city - not such a friendly place for a geographically challenged short tempered girl, let alone a baby snail! And, maybe, I shed a small tear or two. Okay, maybe three.

It's tough being homeless. I think the lesson here is that maybe it's even tougher being a snail, and I think possibly there's something in that for all of us.