Sue Pays A Visit

It’s Saturday morning and it’s overcast in Perth. I’ve just made some coffee and Sue is currently making toast and will join me soon to help compose this latest entry. Ah, she’s here.

Sue arrived from Melbourne on Monday night. Although she was here only a few weeks ago, we didn’t really have much of a chance to catch up, due mostly to Sue’s work commitments. So, I was very pleased when she announced she was coming back for another visit. I think she’s had a reasonably busy year with work, study and life generally, so this was hopefully going to be a fairly relaxed week with plans to lie by the apartment block’s “Melrose Place-style” swimming pool and read books. So far there’s been a little bit of reading and not much swimming. Are you relaxed Sue? “Yes”, she says.

After picking up Sue from the airport on Monday night, we wandered back to the apartment and settled in for a lovely evening of television watching. In some ways it was odd, once again, to watch programs like “Queer As Folk” and “The Bill” in the same geographic location and in the same time zone! We usually just talk about them on the telephone afterwards… and with a three hour time zone difference between Western Australia and Victoria at the moment, that can sometimes be difficult.

On Tuesday, Sue came in to work for the Social Club Melbourne Cup Luncheon. It was my first Melbourne Cup in a couple of years since I mostly have to work. The last time I really celebrated Melbourne Cup was when Sue and I went to Dunk Island three years ago, which involved watching the famous Dunk Island Cup where horses raced along the beach. This was quite different: a lunchtime event on the Sundeck of the ABC Building. What also made it different was the time zone: here in Perth, the Melbourne Cup is a lunchtime event which is much more sensible, even if I had a meeting soon after lunch. Sue writes: I’m not actually that interested in horses running around in circles for money, but meeting some of the ABC people James has been talking about this year was great. I work with only a small team of people in our physical office so being part of a much bigger social scene at work is a new experience for me. We had fun and the horses running in circles didn’t really take up much of the time at all.

Another social highlight was going to dinner on Thursday night at the Indiana Tea House at Cottesloe Beach. As we sipped our cocktails – Margarita and Cosmopolitan – the sun set spectacularly into the Indian Ocean. Surprisingly, there weren’t all that many people there, since it’s usually a reasonably popular spot. As we waited for our meals to arrive, we watched the surf club go through its training paces, with Rottnest Island silhouetted in the distance.

While here, Sue has visited some people she knows and has gained some first hand experiences of West Australian customer service. Sue writes: Do you ever find it weird being in a different Australian city to the one you are from and doing things like going shopping? I think it’s weird – you can recognise the shops and speak the language but you feel incredibly anonymous – I’ve never seen any of these people ever before in my life. You know sometimes when you go shopping at “home” you see people you have seen in the shops or at the footy or on the bus or something. There is something strangely recognisable about them. I have had this bizarre experience over the last few days of feeling like I am in another dimension or something. I look like these people, I sound like these people but I am not of these people – it’s hard to discribe. Seems a much more normal experience when you are actually overseas.

To compensate I have visited some old friends which has been really fun. Arthur Muhl the breakfast presenter from Sonshine fm is an old friend of mine and I popped in to say hi to him and to catch up on his news. (While at Sonshine I saw one of James’ local bloggers Rodney Olsen – that made me smile.) I had coffee in Claremont with my friend Anne who is the chaplain at MLC here in Perth. Those re-connections were great and compensated for some of the weirder exchanges with strangers in the shops.

My “I just don’t believe this” experience was buying lunch in a food court. Admittedly I was a bit over being in the shops by the time I got to the food court. I’d been trying to buy a strapless bra and that while seeming to be straightforward had taken much more time than I was expecting. I kept running into gangs of women with prams and lots of ladies on extending family outtings to the shops. I’d searched fruitlessly for appropriate colours and styles and stood in change rooms endlessly waiting for shop staff (assistants seems like the wrong word) to get me different sizes or styles. I was a touch harassed (and a bit dehydrated) by the time I thought “must have lunch NOW.”

Anyway I find the foodcourt and wander about trying to decide what I want to eat. I spot duck in a display and think – Duck yes Duck! So I wander up the counter and say I’d like the $5.80 size plate with the duck please. Duck was an extra $2, oh well I want duck so $2 is okay. “Would I like plain or fried rice with that.” “Plain thanks.” “Did I want anything else?” “What else can I have?” “YOu can have anything.” “Oh.” Couldn’t really see anything else I wanted but the sign said I could have rice/noodles, meat dish and vegetable dish on my plate for $5. “Can I really have anything” “Yes would you like the stir fried veges?” (No they look awful.) “I’ll have some of the lamb curry thanks.” So she serves me a reasonably large serve of lamb curry. I’m confused but say nothing. She moves to the register and says that will be $7.80 thanks. “Where is the duck I ask?” Duck – she looks dumbfounded. “Yes” I say “I wanted duck”. Duck is $2 extra she says. Yes I say I’ve given you $7.80 and there is no duck – that is what I wanted. She looks more confused. I try and explain – “I wanted the duck, you said it was $2 extra…. you said I could have the veges but I said the lamb curry (not saying to her) which I don’t think looks that great either but seems more edible than the vegetables on offer…”

She takes the plate and puts on three very small pieces of duck and returns to me. I say “look I don’t understand. I wanted duck and I’m paying an extra $2. I don’t think paying extra is bad but I do think I want more duck for $2 than you have just given me – I don’t really want the lamb I wanted duck.” She looks appalled at my bad manners. I contemplate walking away and leaving her with the lamb but I decide I’m not going to do that and stand my ground. “I’d like some more duck please.” She looks even more appalled but goes and gets another tiny piece of duck. I’m outraged and again contemplate walking off but take my plate and leave. Each mouthful chokes me! I’m outraged at her attitude and desperately want to go over and explain what I thought happened. (I hate it when people think I’m being rude.) But I sit there eating it without enjoying it and decide I just have to get out of this stupid shopping centre this very minute – I can’t take it anymore I need to go home.

I arrive and lie on the couch watching “Playtime Disney” and The Big Arvo. Not exactly my usual viewing but watching Colin Buchanan be nice to little kids and having fun is somehow incredibly thereaputic. James arrives home sometime later and laughs loudly when I explain the interaction with the woman at the food court and the service in the shopping centre. Didn’t I know that WA stands for Wait Awhile and that service in Perth is handled differently from the Eastern States. Somehow I think that this thing about capitalising Eastern States – what on earth is that about – is actually linked to the exchange described above. I’m convinced I had “Eastern States” printed across my forehead in some kind of ink that is only visible to West Australians!

Thanks for that Sue. At last, I get my computer back!!!

Yesterday was a very “Catholic” day with our trip to New Norcia and watching “The Sound Of Music” on television last night. I’ll write about New Norcia in my next entry.

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