Sunday, February 7, 2010

Our First Date (Belated)

To begin this story, let's just say that I will not be employed at Cocoawoo in Downtown Brisbane. But that is an insignificant part of this tale.

Last Friday, I had a job interview in Brisbane CBD. Have I explained the significance of “CBD?” (pronounced Say-Bay-Day, of course). It's Central Business District. In urban Australia, you are either in the CBD or in the suburbs, but it is still technically Brisbane. So at home, it would be like saying that I am from Alameda, San Francisco. And when I take BART to Market Street, I'm going to the CBD. Makes sense, I think.

But anyway, because I have no car, and because I'm in yet ANOTHER armpit of nowhere (North Brisbane), I am resigned to the bus/train regime of transportation. I looked up an itinerary online and wrote down th best option. Now, i had two options. I could take one bus and one train, and arrive at 6:10, leaving me 20 minutes to walk to my interview, or I could take TWO buses and one train and arrive at 5:46, leaving me a more comfortable fluff time.

I obviously opted for the more complicated schedule with better timing, because I like to be on time to things. There was a period in my life where I was over-borderline obsessed with timing. This is one this that travel has generally aleviated. But anyway, my second plan of the evening was to meet James on the same street as my interview at 7:00, upon which we would go to dinner, on our very first “date.”

Of course, this wasn't the first time we've had dinner together, the first time we've met, etc., etc. I mean, I live with the guy (when I'm not sniffing comforter covers in Kippa Ring.) But we've never had the opportunity to do it the old fashioned way, getting dropped off at separate locations at the end of the night, rather than our adapted routine of eating dinner, going to Bognuda Street, opening up a bottle of Viognier and watching Planet Earth. This was much more special.

I needed shoes for my interview. It simply isn't suitable to turn up in my beat down Rainbow sandels, especially since I haven't removed/fixed my toenail polish in two months. There is a shopping mall across the street from where I work, so I thought, I'll pop over and find some before I go. Push came to shove and I was running late. My bus was at 4:15 and I left the motel at 3:45. Somehow I managed to run through the mall, find a pair of delightful Kmart shoes and even a new dress(my first piece of Australian style clothing!) and still get on my bus.

I climbed aboard and asked “Does this bus connect to the 690 to Sandgate Station?” and the bus driver stares at him with a “GUH?” look on his face. So I ask again, and he says, “Where are you going?” and I say, “The CBD, Central Station.” The guy sells me a ticket and I go sit down. I tell him which stop I need to get off at and ask him to please tell me when we've arrived.

About 10 minutes later, the bus driver gets on his walkie talkie and says “Hey 690, are you at _______stop? What's your ETA?” and the bus driver mumbled something back, and he says to me “We should make it!” He lets me off and tells me to cross to the other side. I look around and see that he has dropped me at Pelican Beach, or something like that. The sun is going down and the bus should be arriving. Except that it doesn't. And I wait, and wait, and wait, and the bus never comes. I start to get a bit anxious. There are no payphones around and I have no idea where I am. (Coastal, yes, but besides that, no idea.) There are no other 690 buses for an hour at least. I see a 693 bus, the same one I came in on, and I wave it down, hoping to ask the bus driver where MY bus is, but he keeps driving! And what do you know, it was the same driver who kicked me off in the first place...

I start to plot. Maybe I can hitchhike to the station, it can't be too far. I find a pen in my bag and write “SANDGATE STATION” in attemptedly dark letters on the back of my resume. I figure, what good is the resume if I can't even get into the city. Then, a fire ant crawls inside my shoe and starts biting my toes. So I'm kicking and screaming obscenities and the ant flies out, leaving residual pain behind. I watch cars drive by and see that most of the drivers are teenaged boys, and I think, there is no way I am hitchhiking with these kids.

I plot again. I need a phone, to call James. At the very least to tell him I will be late to get to him in the CBD, and at the most, he can look up different bus routes or something. I see a barefoot middle-aged couple walking a dog and decide to prey on them. I ask politely if one of them has a phone I can use to make a local call. They ask what's going on, and this leads to that, they offer to take me to the station themselves. My heroes! So they took me to Sandgate, told me some stories, were altogether so pleasant, and restored my faith in humanity.

Whoever you were, nice people, thank you.

I get out of the car and walk into the station. My God, the train is there! I run furiously over the tracks (up stairs and over) and make it just in time. I'm going to make it! I'm going to make my interview! I do some ipod listening and finally relax a bit.

We arrive in Central Station and I look for my cross streets. Albert? Charlotte? Anyone? No one seemed to know where I needed to be going. So I walk six blocks in the wrong direction. Now I've missed my interview. I ask a man selling magazines(I knew he was crazy, but he looked local), where Albert St. was and he proceeds to pull out an envelope and ask me to write my email on it, so he can have an American penpal. I quickly made one up and got away. I found the street. It was a street James and I had been on only a week ago when I took him to an eye exam. I couldn't believe I didn't remember. I walk to Cocoawoo, disheveled, my bobby pins lost in a crosswalk somewhere, sweaty, etc., only to apologize to the woman I had “stood up.” The woman was very nice and interviewed me anyway, though I'm sure she was just filling time. I didn't care. It simply wasn't meant to be. Besides, the place didn't have that nice coffee smell that I like so much about cafes. Again, wasn't meant to be.

But it's not over yet. Have I rambled too much? TOO BAD! Remember that dress I bought in the mall back in Kippa Ring? I still needed to put it on for my date, and apparently Cocoawoo had no public toilet. I'm walking down the street, its 6:58, and I see an antique bookstore to my right. I walk in. The store is enormous and smells terrific (booky.) So I smile at the owner, walk straight to the back of the store, pick a stack (plays and scripts, I found myself in) and put my dress on in what must have been 30 seconds flat. I gave another smile on the way out. Oh yeah. I just changed outfits in your bookstore and you didn't even notice.

And at 7:00 on the button, I found James parked in a loading zone. We had Tibetan food, we had drinks, we had walks, and it was simply magic. If this had been the first time we met, I would have flown to Australia just to see him again. Oh wait, check.

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