Burning up the bucks in the big smoke
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.