Saturday, August 20, 2005

Police Penalty.

The day started out promising enough.

Woke up early even after a late shift last night delivering pizzas. I had food stocked, had done the laundry the day before and had a big stack of clean clothes. And the paperwork for the transfer for the Good Little Car, and the setup of the BankWest account, and the driving licence conversion, and the Medicare registration and all that nagging paperwork had been taken care of over the past few days. And the store manager had scheduled me on break today, so the only thing I had to do for today was to live.

Drove out and picked up the Saturday classified jobs at the corner store, then drove (aimlessly) headed west towards the water. Took a detour along the way to follow a road sign that caught my eye. It said "scenic drive". Ended up on the highest natural point on the flat plain that Perth is built on. Slowly going through the papers in the early sunrise hours on a hilltop lookout over Perth city, with only the sound of birds around you amidst the dispersing morning fog, was a beautifully quiet two hours or so that I throughly enjoyed. Until the hordes of tourists started showing up. Complete with whiny screaming kids. It seems that the Reabold Hill lookout is a tourist attraction of sorts. The nice thing about Western Australia is that it is big enough that if somebody gets on your nerves, you can just pack up and go somewhere else quieter. (An option not always available on a tiny island.) So I pick up my papers and head back to the car and drive to the beach, where I finished combing through the job pages in peace and quiet.

Drove back to the house where I laboured over a long session of food preparation. Cooked up and froze batches of pasta, made stacks of sandwiches, and portioned up snack food for easy access. Then threw a stack of sandwiches, a family-sized bar of chocolate, a big tin of sultanas and dried apricots, and two bottles of water in the car. I head back to the beach planning to catch the sunset. I have been here for 45 days now and have yet to watch a complete sunset in peace without something or other interrupting me. Parked the car directly facing the sunset over the Indian Ocean, rolled down the windows, put up my feet and stuffed my face with food. And life was near perfect at that moment. If only that moment would have lasted forever..

The mobile phone rings harshly, shattering the calm. At exactly 5.07pm.

I noted the exact time because I was fiddling with the radio to switch channels. It is the pizza shop requesting that I come in for a last-minute shift because one of their other drivers had not turned up. For those of you who remember my alcohol-soaked work-related outburst by the Singapore River years ago on a Friday night which had my work mobile nearly ending up in the river.. the only reason for a non-repeat of the dramatics was because the Indian Ocean was beyond my best throwing range of a mobile phone. It is kind of amusing and rather sad that whenever I try to watch a sunset here.. something happens to interrupt the process. (This sequence has happened at least twice before already.)

So I get to work delivering pizza. As part of the route, I make a U-turn and immediately see the red-and-blue lights of a police cruiser opposite the junction come on with a short burst of the siren. I get pulled over and get a $100 fine and two demerit points. (12 demerit points over 3 years and they take away my licence.) Did you know that U-turns at traffic lights in Western Australia are illegal? Well, now I do. The penalty hurts financially since that is more than a couple days' work, and the added salt in the wound of having a stain on my previously spotless Singapore driving licence. And since I have done the conversion to the WA licence, I get 2 demerit points on the WA licence even before I get the physical licence card mailed to me!

I would reckon that pizza delivery boy was about as low on the employment food chain as possible. Maybe just slightly a notch about McDonalds' janitor. Yet somehow I managed to screw up delivering pizzas.. the amazing scope in which I can possibly mess up astounds even me.

It took a very long phone call with D. to make me feel a little less crappy about myself. To talk myself out of walking away from the sole miserly source of income I have at the moment. On the bright (sarcastic) side of things, at least I did not bring down a power pole doing an illegal U-turn at the lights and setting off a possible sequence to plunge Perth into darkness and anarchy.

So, no, things are not exactly going peachy at the moment..

Hell, I may run out of money and end up destitute.. I may run out of demerits and have my licence revoked.. I may even run out of resourcefulness and have my self-esteem totally destroyed.

But with my attempts to make things work here yet!

I will be back at work delivering pizzas on Monday.
Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose..
- lyrics to Me & Bobby McGee, by Janis Joplin


Blogger Tym said...

Oyyy .....

Hang in there, dude. We all have these horrible, horrible days. Would it help if I told you that I was really jealous of the fact that there's space enough where you're at to flee tourists for a quiet beach? (As opposed to East Coast Park, where you flee tourists and families for, er, more families hogging the jogging lanes with their bicycles further down the beach.)

August 21, 2005 10:24 AM  
Blogger Agagooga said...

Hang in there.

At least you're no longer a Singapore Serf :)

August 21, 2005 3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and he became an Australian Serf ... ?

August 21, 2005 5:55 PM  
Blogger the virgin undergrad said...

WA drivers, while courteous are really quite daredevils. i've seen at least on 3 occasions where drivers drove the car over the central divider to go towards the opposite directions. in fact, just on fri when i was on loftus road and there was a heavy jam, a police car behind our car drove over the divider, in the opposite direction and towards kings park. and when we made the turn into kings part, a greater surprise awaited us: there was an ambulance coming in the opposite direction in the lane which our car was travelling on. it then mounted the divider to go to the otherside. perth may be a dead city, at least its drivers are adventurous to say the least.

August 21, 2005 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An A$100 fine in Western Australia is better than putting a 10-cent donation into a tin can operated by a fat kid in Singapore who thinks he's doing charity by asking for spare change and annoying the rest of us when we all know real charity means getting his lardy behind to scrub the urine-stained walls of a mental home to wake him up to the real world.

Anyway, you won't believe how envious I am that you're in Australia and I'm in "let's build not one but two integrated resorts to make ourselves more exciting" Singapore.

Perth will always be my home.

August 21, 2005 9:24 PM  
Blogger KnightofPentacles said...

For the record, I got back in the saddle today (Sunday) delivering pizza.

Took a nice easy short shift to rebuild confidence and exorcise my fears. Sometimes you just have to stick your tongue out back in defiance at setbacks.. (and remember not to get caught doing illegal U-turns).


Entry: serf
Function: noun
Etymology: French, from Old French, from Latin servus slave
: a member of a servile feudal class bound to the soil and subject to the will of his lord

The more precise (but lesser-known) term I was thinking was actually villein.

Entry: villein
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English vilain, vilein
: an unfree peasant standing as the slave of a feudal lord but free in legal relations with respect to all others

You can have lots of money and luxury but yet still be unfree in your dealings with the ruling caste/s in a society. Being broke, skint and struggling to make financial ends meet does not imply that you are servile.

August 21, 2005 11:36 PM  
Anonymous mrs budak said...

Good to see you jumping back quickly. Hang in there.

August 22, 2005 12:22 AM  
Blogger C said...

My first pullover in a good 5 to 6 years set me back 3 demerit points and $150.

It was for not stopping at a stop sign. I'd declined to pull the car to a complete halt because there was no one on the road. Before i knew it there were sirens and flashing lights.

I mean, yeah, it's covered in driver theory but heck, you feel so stupid don't you, getting fines for something like this?

THat was around the time they introduced the hoon laws. If i'd been driving the patrol instead of my own sleek little thing, i reckon i'd've gotten away with it too!

August 22, 2005 9:09 AM  
Blogger elin said...

Just a thought - have you considered employment in the busier states such as melb or sydney? I'll say its not because I am biased to Melb cos I live here but I just wondered in terms of no. of jobs, if there are just greater nos. available in either states - actually real estate is expensive in Sydney. And you can drive from Perth to Melb in 2 days.

August 22, 2005 12:19 PM  
Blogger KnightofPentacles said...

To be honest, I had no idea it was illegal to make a U-turn at the lights. Nor do I remember much of the driver theory stuff that I did over a decade (or two?) ago.

If can I get stable decent-paying work in Sydney or Melbourne, I would most likely move. May be sad to have to though because this place sort of grows on you.

And I do not think the Good Little Car is going to make it very far out of Perth metro. Fuel range is only about 350km, and it threatens to drop off pieces on the road at speeds beyond 70kmph.

August 26, 2005 10:59 PM  

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