Wednesday, October 01, 2008


That’s me coming back to reality again after another weekend in Gawler with Rachel and, this time, her full compliment of sick children. I had planned to just have a very lazy weekend with Rach doing pretty much nothing and just relaxing and enjoying her company ( know…she’s pretty awesome). The week prior to my visit saw her kids progressively fall victim to a virus that is currently doing the rounds in Gawler so by Friday all 4 kids were ill in varying degrees. 

So I left work at 4pm on Friday and drove out to the airport for my 7pm flight. I again had flights with Tiger Airways (because I am a stupid, stupid man) and true to form the flight was an absolute shambles. I arrived at the Tiger terminal at 5:30pm and joined the HUGE throng of people waiting to board planes. A quick look at the departures board showed that both scheduled flights that Tiger had were already delayed by ½ h. Great. I called the relevant people in Adelaide and informed them that the arrival/pick-up/delivery times would now be later and waited to be processed in the queue. 40mins later I was checked in (carry on only *thumbs up* ) and made my way to the departure lounge and settled in for a long wait with my iPod for company. 

I listened to music for about an hour before it dawned on me that we should actually be boarding now if the plane was 1/2hr delayed?? I went over to the departure board and looked again, the plane had been pushed out another 30 mins and was now running an hour late. I could feel the “Tiger Furrow” forming in my brow and my face contorting into a scowl. I once again informed the people expecting me in Adelaide that there were further delays and I would contact them again when I was actually getting on the plane (it couldn’t be that long …could it?). I sat there patiently waiting with a facial expression probably pretty similar to that which soldiers who are about to go into battle have. I was so annoyed at this airline and their complete inability to be on time EVER. They may be cheap but that doesn’t mean customers should forgive them for being ridiculously unorganised. 

The “revised” boarding time arrived and went. Finally we started boarding the plane at 8:20pm … not bad Tiger only 1hr20m late, a real improvement on the 4 ½ hrs delay last time. Thinking the worst was behind me now an I could finally relax and get ready for all the impending awesomeness of Adelaide I sat in my allocated seat (a Window .. SCORE!) and settled in for the flight. Then the captain of the plane came on the speaker and apologised for the delay citing some rubbish that I didn’t listen to as the reason for it. He finished talking and the cabin crew started doing whatever it is they do. The captain then came on the speaker again and in a shaky voice informed us that Melbourne airport had closed all but one runway due to low cloud cover and there was now a “Queue” for taking off and landing. We had an “Estimated Time of Take-off” 40 mins from NOW. You are F$#king KIDDING ME!!!! The annoyance of everyone on the plane was made known by a tsunami of expletives and sighing. The captain graciously let us all turn on our mobile phones and make calls to inform people of this latest delay. I called my mum and told her of the latest delay and her reply pretty much summed up what I was thinking, it was a four letter word starting with “F”.

Eventually we took off and flew to Adelaide I found mum and we left the airport (paying $4 for parking….WOW. The same park time at Melbourne Airport would have been $20). Mum was tired and didn’t really want to go out to Gawler but she could see how much I wanted too and agreed. Thanks Mum, I’m sure I was too irritated and pissed off after that flight to really show my appreciation at the time, but I REALLY did appreciate it…you rock :). I arrived at Rachels place around 10:30pm and she was still up thankfully. We had a nice chat and a quick Chai (which I forgot to pack yesterday when I left…DOH!)  and went to bed as I was pretty tired.

Saturday arrived and for the life of me I can’t remember what we did in the morning. I remember only going for a BBQ lunch (and Footy Final) at Rachels parents place with all the associated brothers, sisters and respective partners and cousin etc. I also remember that I was somehow able to cut up a whole heap of fruit salad for this party “The wrong way”. That’s right, you read correctly...apparently there is a wrong way to slice up fruit....who’d have thought anyone could stuff that up?? :P In all honesty  the days actually just blurred into one and while I remember individual events…their order is a little hazy. This is due to very disrupted sleep patterns (and not in the good way). With Rach’s kids all being various degrees of “Sick” night times were absolute chaos to someone who has for the last 36 years gone to bed at hour X and slept uninterrupted through to hour Y to be woken by an alarm. The amount of times Rachel has to get up and deal with a child throughout the night was quite an eye opening experience for me. I know it’s easy for me to be completely overawed by it when in actual fact it is probably normal behaviour for every mum that has ever existed (and my limited research into the matter has proved this to be the case .. if you count looking at me with a somewhat disgusted look when I ask if that is normal for mums). Nevertheless the complete sleep deprivation she put herself through over the weekend by just being a mum was astonishing and to do it without a second thought really is impressive. I tried my best to offer assistance and help out in any way I could because, to me, what she does daily is herculean and if it was me I’d be a wreck in a few hours...well, probably minutes actually.

As usual the weekend was over far too quickly I wasn’t looking forward to it ending at all. I had made plans for Monday to have brunch with my Brother and then lunch with an old uni friend of mine who had been most offended that I hadn’t visited her on previous trips to Adelaide and I decided I just couldn’t snub her any longer :P. On Monday morning when I awoke I was lying on the fold out bed of torturous pain in the lounge room. Obviously, I had relocated there during the night at some point...I can’t quite remember why...I’ll just assume it was some huge act of kindness or chivalry....probably both. I was drifting in an out of sleep and at about 7am I heard the familiar sound of little feet circling the bed. I cautiously opened an eye and there was Rachels youngest daughter Sophie inquisitively trying to gauge whether I was asleep. I said “Hello Sophie” and was immediately greeted with a huge grin and she immediately launched herself on top of me to give me a hug. How can you not love 3 year olds? 

The sounds of me being awake instantly brought the other 3 kids into the lounge room and they proceeded to amuse themselves with the Wii, PC and using me as some sort of obstacle course. After a while I had to go get my phone and call my brother and as my phone was in Rachels room I tried to be extra quiet as I assumed she would be sleeping as all the kids were occupied with me. I went in and she was awake and so ill I really felt sorry for her. After looking after her kids for nearly a week while they were sick she had eventually succumbed to the virus herself and it had really hit her much harder than she deserved. She could hardly move as all her muscles hurt and she had “daggers in her eyes”...sounded nasty. I went and got her some Nurofen for the aches and pains and asked if there was anything I could do. She gave me the monumental task of fixing breakfast for the kids. I foolishly thought it would be easy....Oh how wrong I was :). I called my brother and cancelled brunch as I wouldn’t be able to make it anymore and making breakfast was way more important :P. I eventually got the kids that actually wanted to be fed fed, “Flute Doops” and “Fruities” were the order of the day. Unfortunately I had no idea what “Fruities” were ... and the looks I got from Hannah and Sophie were priceless when I headed to the huge fruit bowl and they both yelled in abject horror “NOOOOO!! That’s not fruities...they’re here in the pantry!” and pulled out a packet of Rice Bubbles. The one breakfast cereal in existence with NO fruit content at all. Hahahahaha.

After breakfast my weekend sadly came to a close and I had to get ready to leave. I packed my stuff and said good bye to the children and to Rachel and walked to the train station. I used to catch this train everyday during the first 3 years of Uni and I hadn’t caught it since then I don’t think. It was really freaky and a total flashback to pass through all the stations and look at just how much everything had changed over the years from what I had remembered. The train journey was a little under an hour and when I arrived in the city I had coordinated so well with Jen that I stepped out of the station onto north terrace and she pulled up in her car seconds later. I haven’t seen Jen for maybe 3 years, we were in the same research group for our Ph.D.’s at uni and therefor spent a lot of time around each other. She is another of these women in my life that look absolutely no different to how they did 10 years ago. We immediately slipped straight back into being friends like no time had past. Jen was always my “moral compass” and “whingeing post” for girl issues in Uni as I had the most terrible time with dating and girls in general and she took it on as her hobby to try and help me out (god bless her :P). If you’ve seen my Facebook picture where I am being hugged by 5 different ultra-hot chicks with a massive smile on my face THAT was Jen and her friends helping me out. I was chuckling internally when this is all she wanted to talk about now years later too. How was I? What are my girl plans? Etc She heard all the relevant info then preceded to deconstruct it all, analyse it and inform me what I should be doing to achieve my goals. She’s a smart cookie.

Jen had her newest child with her (8 months) who was quite possibly the happiest little tyke I had ever seen (even happier than my nieces). We went to King William Rd Café district and had lunch and coffee and chatted for about 2 hrs. She then was gracious enough to drive me out to my mums place where I filled out the rest of the day until the dreaded flight home. It is still very hard for me to like the Adelaide Airport it holds such bitter sweet memories for so many reasons and when I am there to go on a plane back to Melbourne I reckon that’s  exactly what going to prison must feel like. It’s harder and harder each time to get on that plane when I have just had more fun, excitement and happiness in the short time I am usually there than I have in a whole month in Melbourne. Reality is a cruel mistress indeed. Nothing for it though but to soldier on and play the waiting game until one day all the planets, stars and moons will align and I will be able to come back and STAY.

Anyway, I got to the airport and headed for the Tiger check-in. The sense of dread building with each footstep and mentally preparing myself for what ever unbelievable incompetence I was sure would be greeting me at the counter. Would the inevitable delay be only a ½ hr or would the plane be leaving at midnight again?? To my absolute amazement … the flight was not delayed. It was on schedule and no delay was anticipated?? I actually asked the guy checking me in if that was a mistake as Tiger had never once been on time ever for me. Apparently it was true, so I wandered over to the coopers lounge and got a beer and sat in their ultra comfy chairs and got out the iPod and started using the FREE (are you listening Melbourne airport because I am talking to YOU!) internet access. I caught up on the stuff I read on the net and did some facebooking and pretty soon the departure time arrived and the plane was STILL on schedule (can you tell I was expecting something to go wrong at any minute?). We boarded and the plane left on time and arrived in Melbourne about 15 mins early due to a strong tailwind all the way to Melbourne. 

After getting off the plane and heading out the gates (Carry On luggage for the win) I headed to the car park and found my car. I did all the pre-drive checks. Four Wheels CHECK, All inflated CHECK, Mirrors folded out in Drive position CHECK. All windows intact CHECK. So I got in fitted the Stereo and GPS and turned the key. The car roared to life and then POW, POW .. BOTH my headlights blew. Both of them. F$#K. Luckily I had anticipated this would happen soon and I had (albeit a few months ago) serendipitously bought replacement globes and stored them in the car in anticipation. Still, replacing headlight globes in the outer edges of the long term carpark at Melbourne airport at 10:20pm in 8°C would not have been my 1st choice where to change them had anyone given me the option. I struggled for nearly an hour to change the globes with only a small torch and a screwdriver but eventually succeeded and drove home. I got home just before midnight and went straight to bed reviewing in my head quickly the fabulous time I’d had (yes Rach, really) and a little sad that, once again, it was all over and my Melbourne existence would fully smack me in the face in 8 short hours.

Once again thank you Rachel for your hospitality in what was obviously not ideal conditions. You rock so hard :). Thanks also to my Mum for helping me out on Friday night also in less than ideal conditions.

Additional: It’s Wednesday and I’m still virus free. Yay for the super immune system :)

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