Awaiting the Ferry to Circular Quay


Waiting for my transportation, water splashed about of the sides of the sea worthy platform. The ferry to Circular Quay was running late.

I sat gazed at the tourists fumbling with pixels hanging from their necks. They seemed persnickety about photographing the outdoors, stressing about every setting their cameras should be on.

Appearing from the depths of shiny bus, excitement shouted over distant outboard motors as the gathering continued to grow into a dozen or more. A spotted a Nikon DSLR, Android, Canon compact and Galaxy Note as they amassed the beautiful bay. Fingers pointed and smiles erupted at the beautiful scene before them.

After a quick talk from the well-suited driver, one member broke from the group signalling the other eleven to follow. Ostentatious shirtless surfers watched on, filling in the midday waves with a spot of relaxed fishing. I had to hold back a chuckle watching the centipede of chatter shuffle down the boardwalk, the group walked back and forth, briefly stopping to capture what seemed to be the same image.

An old Australian couple sat alongside me shaking their heads as the entertainment forwarded. Clothed in pristine slacks, ironed polo shirts and bleached matching hats, I imagined they had lived in Rose Bay all their lives. Their obnoxious concerns were voiced a little to loud as the unconcerned group walked past their comfort, “their noisy aren’t they?”  I sat up in disbelief could they be so rude? Even if they didn’t speak English I’m sure a ventriloquist could have been more silenced.

For me I was reminded about my new world, a world, which was separated by money and class. Australia as I knew it was becoming a stronger divide. I simply hoped respect could be learned and not taught by the older generations.

 

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Rose Bay Please


Ushered by an overworked conductor I made my way to the awaiting battered old vehicle, stickers strewn, broken and stripped. The taxis missing hub caps caused an uneasy unbalance; the station wagon leaning relaxed by the roadside. My thoughts crept up with my eyes…was this a taxi?

Fixated on my thoughts the driver leered over from the safety of this sanctuary, Broken English seemingly fitting his decrepit ride, “whereyou need to go?”

“Rose Bay” I announced, trying to mask my harrowing voice.

“Rose Bay? I know you come?”  I nodded with hesitation agreeing to the shady reply.

After the drivers second attempt to unlock the rusty boot he continued to shake his head with frustration as I waited, heavy luggage in hand. The taxis behind me felt uneasy, the disorganised flurry continued to draw an uneasy attention. Suddenly the boot sprang open and an awkward smile hurried towards me.

My bags flew as they were propelled away, landing with a thickened thud into the open boot. Quietly I made my way to the rear passenger seat and calmed my anger. The driver jostled for rank as we exiting Sydney’s busy domestic airport, his fingers awkwardly flicked between the GPS and wheel as he typed in the destination.

Looking into his rear view mirror the broken conversation seemed pointless but I unwillingly engaged.

“Good trip?” He asked to which I detesting replied “yep”.

The minutes passed and foreign driver appeared in his element, comfortable in the wet, driving to the uneasy rhythm of rubber and metal etching its way into the dirty windscreen.  The illuminated road twisted and turned before us until it disappeared into the darkened tunnel.

Almost as if on cue once we were bound to the narrowing darkness the driver tapped his disconnected GPS and murmured “which way, left or right?” It was then my heart sank knowing my instinct and guard had slipped, fooled by my long journey and jet lag – I had chosen the wrong cab.

“I have no idea” I replied in disgust.  An uneasy silence lingered, turning to face me the driver replied, “no worry I know”.

Worry I did! Frustratingly the highway had become a distant memory in the ordeal. Side streets and traffic lights became a recurring norm.  The rain had stopped and the streets were now full of water. Shaking his head the driver tapped the GPS; the small stagnate red dot lay entangled in a myriad of mess, yellow lines overlapped three to four fold. The trip was turning into a tourist bus nightmare, just without the therapeutic commentary of a Sydney-sider.

Coaching our way across Sydney we managed to traverse the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge for the second time before the driver noted his defeat. A forced iPhone landed in my hand as the desperate driver’s eyes quickly glanced and landed on mine. He spoke quickly “you look up and take me.” I acknowledged his request feeling a sense of pity.

I typed in my destination dodging the cracks of his dilapidated screen.  Handing the phone back he insisted on driving in the heavy wet traffic while holding his phone to which I strongly disagreed. Instead I turned on Google Maps on my trusty Nexus and was relieved to hear the therapeutic voice of the assistant. “Turn right in 200m.” Ah the serenity.

Following the direction of Google my driver managed to find my destination in just over one hour. After the ordeal, I felt pity on the driver so I decided to give him a flat fee of $60 as by now the meter would have been in the hundreds. He thankfully replied shaking my hand apologising profusely.

So now it is the morning after and based on my story the best advice I can give – don’t judge a book by it’s cover, instead judge a cab by its condition!