Burn­ing up the bucks in the big smoke

Central Otago Mirror - - FOOD FOR THOUGHT -

It was the almighty din out­side that awoke him from his half slum­ber.

Sirens, and a city slowly wak­ing up to face a new day.

Where on earth was he?

Oh, that’s right. Ho­tel room. He’d come north to the Big Smoke to visit the daugh­ter who was study­ing at univer­sity.

No way was he stay­ing in a flat with a bunch of sheilas though.

Book me some­where quiet, he’d said.

This was far from quiet. He was used to be­ing wo­ken by plovers out in the pad­dock or the cows on the other side of the shel­ter belt.

He stretched. Th­ese new beds aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

He’d been sleep­ing on the same one for 40-odd years and his back had never hurt as much as it did this morn­ing.

Af­ter a quick shower he pulled on his tidy strides and shirt.

A squiz in the mir­ror con­firmed what he’d al­ways known: You can take the man out of the coun­try…

He headed down­stairs in search of break­fast to find the daugh­ter’s car was gone.

He wan­dered the street, but it hadn’t been moved on him, like those bug­gers did out­side the pub at home once for a laugh.

The ho­tel re­cep­tion­ist, who he couldn’t re­ally un­der­stand, said the daugh­ter’s wheels had been towed be­cause he had left it on a clear­way, what­ever that was.

Not afraid of a bit of a hike, he set off in the di­rec­tion of the towage firm.

He got lost, re­traced his steps, and it hosed down.

Soak­ing wet, he found the of­fice, and the $60 ticket slapped on the wind­screen.

Plus the $250 tow­ing fee.

He’d left his wal­let back on the bed­side ta­ble at the ho­tel.

He jumped in a taxi and tried to ex­plain his predica­ment to the driver, who he couldn’t re­ally un­der­stand ei­ther. Peak hour traf­fic crawled along.

He dashed up­stairs, grabbed the wal­let, and jumped back in the wait­ing taxi. Peak hour traf­fic con­tin­ued to crawl as he watched the me­ter slide up­wards past a hun­dred bucks. Who can af­ford to live in this god-for­saken town?

Fi­nally he ar­rived at the yard, got bug­ger all change out of $150 from the driver, and paid the tow- age fee. He parked up (legally, af­ter check­ing and check­ing again for any rogue sig­nage) and chose to walk down­town to pay the in­fringe­ment no­tice.

There was an­other ticket is­sued to your car, the woman be­hind the counter ( who he could hardly un­der­stand) ex­plained.

The daugh­ter had let the war­rant of fit­ness lapse and he owed an­other $200 for that as well.

He rung her to ex­plain his pre- dica­ment, and add the war­rant of fit­ness ticket to the never-end­ing list of cash his daugh­ter said she’d pay him back. One day.

She’s been held up at uni and can’t pick him up to take him to the air­port to fly home.

It’s okay, he says. I’ll get a taxi. An­other one. Just as well he can park the trac­tor up out­side the pub at home with­out get­ting fined.


Peak hour traf­fic con­tin­ued to crawl as he watched the me­ter slide up­wards past a hun­dred bucks.

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