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Wind Warnings for Sunday:
Gale warning for Far North West Coast, Lower East Coast and South East Coast
This week I spent my life savings on a motorcycle. That’s how I live my life!
Royal Enfield Bullet 500
Honda CB 1100
I bought a bunch of books off The Book Depository. Then I thought, “I shouldn’t have done that, I should be saving up for that motorcycle. That’s the problem with online shopping. You don’t have to pick them up and walk to the counter and stand in line, so you don’t have any time to reconsider.” Then I thought, “I’m glad I live my life in such a way that ‘saving up for that motorcycle’ is considered the more responsible financial course of action.”
Hello, faithful reader! My short story “The City” is being published in the Autumn 2011 edition of online fiction magazine The Battered Suitcase. You can read it here for free online, or shell out a few dollars to download it to Kindle or iPad or whatever the kids are doing these days, or spend a few dollars more to order a print copy. Naturally this volume contains not just my own tale of amazement and delight, but those of many other writers.
This is the first short story I’ve had published in any kind of official capacity, which is a significant milestone for any writer. Unfortunately it’s also the last issue of the magazine, which can be traced directly back to you for not supporting the independent arts scene in the past. Shame, shame, shame.
I first started writing “The City” when I was living in Seoul, which was more than two years ago. It was accepted for publication in November 2010, which was nearly a year ago. I think I need to either start writing more stories, or ignore simultaneous submission prohibitions.
Ahoy hoy! We are finally in The House. We moved in about two weeks ago, actually, but still don’t have Internet. I’m at the library on Flinders Lane with an awful busker’s Beatles covers floating up through the windows from street level.
Our original moving day was, you will recall, March 12, but it was delayed again and again because Jamie’s conveyancer (whom he is now taking to court) was a deceptive charlatan. So that’s a total of 110 days late.
On the evening of the 30th, I borrowed Kristie’s car and headed up to the airport, to stand around in the blustery winds outside the Tiger terminal waiting for Chris. I say “terminal” but it’s actually an enclosed concrete area of barbed wire fencing containing a luggage carousel and porta-potties. I already nursed a hatred for that airline after one of the worst flights of my life, but any lingering thoughts I might have had of ever using it again were wiped out by standing outside that haggard refugee camp. (In any case, it was grounded by the aviation authorities for safety breaches a few days later, and remains grounded, and deserves to be grounded.)
Chris stumbled out of the concentration camp looking a little pale and worse for wear after his bout of glandular fever, and we hopped back in the car and cruised down the freeway, past the city and back to the Camberwell house. Jamie had rented a removal truck and already packed most of our stuff into it, but he needed to pick up a few things from his previous residences, so Chris and I took his bike and Kristie’s car while he and Dave went off in the truck. We went straight to the house, only to find that it had no electricity.
“Just check the fuse box,” Jamie said when we rang him.
“No, yeah, we’re doing that,” I said.
“Well we’ll have to ring the electricity company or something.”
“Alright,” Chris said. “We’ll see you when you get here. Well, actually, no we won’t, because there’s no lights.”
We set about moving our stuff into the house in the dark, using our scant reserves of phone battery to see. The house hadn’t been lived in for a while – we still have no idea what the conveyance delay was caused by – and had a musty smell to it. I said, “This is reminding me very strongly of…”
“…last year,” Chris finished for me.
We cracked open a few half-warm beers by taking them outside and smashing them on the letterbox, and sat in the empty living room drinking until Jamie and Dave showed up in the truck. Jamie had been making some phone calls too, and it turned out that the power had been switched off because the electricity company thought nobody was living there. The conveyancer was supposed to notify them that we were, but of course they didn’t. We moved in on Thursday night, and didn’t get power hooked up until Tuesday. At least on the second day we got some candles.
And so here we are, home sweet home, in Sunshine West, the third place I’ve lived in since moving to Melbourne. I moved around a lot when I lived in Perth as well, but it was always in the same area – somewhere in the City of Stirling, never more than a few kilometres from the ocean, upper-middle-class suburbs like Trigg or Carine or Karrinyup at the northern end of the bell curve that hugs the coast. In Melbourne I’ve vaulted all over the city. First there was Essendon: middle-class but still blue-collar, prosperous but not wealthy, the kind of suburb full of solidly middle-class “working families” that both political parties always pander to. Probably a marginal seat in federal elections. Then Camberwell: an old-money suburb, not as snobbish as Toorak or Kew but still very well-off, the streets dotted with European trees and students in private school uniforms. Old houses, churches and plenty of trams. (The wealthy suburbs of Perth lack this European analogy; even Dalkeith and Peppermint Grove are full of garish modern mansions. Perth is a new-money city.) Doubtless a Liberal safe seat.
And now Sunshine, an outer suburb of plain houses built in the 1970s, wide treeless streets, lots of highways and traffic lights and fast food stores. Physically it resembles the suburbs of Perth too close to the freeway; places like Balcatta or Balga, far from the ocean, where the average household income starts to drop. Other parts of Sunshine resemble a rural town like Collie, full of rednecks and bogans; other parts are closer to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The residential streets here are sandwiched in between industrial zones and commercial lots. The avenues are lined with warehouse-like stores selling things like tyres or paint or screen doors; when the wind is up, you can smell fumes and chemicals from the factories. More than half the traffic is semi-trailers and trucks, which makes riding a motorcycle dicey. It’s also a hot-spot for crime. On our first night here Chris heard gunfire in the distance; when I rang my insurance company to tell them my new address, I was informed my premium would be going up; all the petrol stations are pre-pay after 6 pm.
It’s a long way from Camberwell. Maybe 30 years from now, after they develop Fisherman’s Bend and rezone the industrial wasteland below the West Gate Bridge and gentrify Footscray, Sunshine will become more respectable. Until then it’s one of the hard suburbs of Melbourne, full of struggling families and Sudanese immigrants and feral bogans. My vehemently left-wing beliefs are about to clash with the removal of my middle-class white existence.
The house itself is OK. It’s sort of plonked into the lot at an odd angle, the walls not parallel with the fences. It’s fairly basic, with thin walls and no insulation (and a Melbourne winter is pretty brutal). The shower is well fucked; the head is level with my neck, and doesn’t go up any further, and the floor is coated with years’ worth of grime and mould. (We bought wooden slats from Ikea to stand on. ) But it’s gradually shaping up into a home; Jamie and Dave made some shelves out of planks and ladders, and we got a TV and some couches, and I bought a bed and a chest of drawers from a used furniture shop down the road. I don’t mind sleeping on a mattress on the floor, but these rooms are way smaller than Camberwell, and I need the storage space.
I’m finally getting around to the job hunt in earnest, sending out unsolicited applications and going into the city to use the library’s internet whenever I get the chance. I’m growing tired of working at the airport. It occurred to me the other day that I was better off at Coles: I got paid more, didn’t work as hard, got longer breaks, didn’t work in such an inconvenient location, and didn’t have to start at 5 am some days. The only difference is that it’s more dignifiying to work in a bookstore than in a supermarket. But at the end of the day I’m still in retail. And Lagardere is one of those tiresome retail companies that’s constantly trying to increase profits by putting relentless pressure on the $16-an-hour drones at the very bottom of the pecking order, urging them to meet sales targets and upsell and blah blah blah. Recently three of us were sent to Brunswick to do coffee training to cover the baristas’ breaks, because they’re too cheap to put two baristas on at a time. The coffee training was woefully inadequate, so we’ve been nipping into the cafe whenever we get the chance, to watch and learn from what they’re doing. A few weeks ago one of my co-workers was doing that when the CEO of the Asia-Pacific division happened to pass by (that’s the bother of working in a major transport hub) and screamed his head off at her for being in the cafe rather than on the floor selling books – despite the fact that it was late at night and you have a clear line of sight to the registers from the cafe. He swore at her and the barista in front of customers and told them that they needed to “justify their position there.”
If it had been me I would have tossed my lanyard at him and walked out. I don’t know where the fuck people get the idea that a part-time retail job, with shit hours and shit pay, is some kind of esteemed privilege that has people clamouring at the gates. On the contrary, our staff turnover is amazing. Kristie was working at a retail store in the Bourke Street Mall before she left for Europe and had to put up with the same bullshit – “perform or you will be replaced,” “the reason we’re not making budget is because of your poor sales performance,” etc. I utterly loathe retail companies like hers and mine, who treat you only with as much courtesy as is required by federal law. Coles, in comparison, paid me more than the minimum wage and gave me longer lunch breaks, simply out of generosity. Other companies squeeze every fucking dollar and treat their employees like garbage. There’s no way I’m going to put in 110% (or even 80%, for that matter) at a job that pays me $16 an hour and requires me to get out of bed at 3.30 am. And there’s something disgusting about a CEO with a triple figure income screeching and howling in anger at a girl who earns $16 an hour and reducing her to tears. All the money that we make for that store is fed up the chain to Paris and goes towards mansions in Provence and speedboats in Barbados and private school fees for some rich asshole’s kids. And the more you earn, the less actual work you have to do, as I’ve decided after many hours of watching suits in the business class lounge knock back whiskeys and pile up their plates at the buffet. The harder and more unpleasant your job is, the less you are actually rewarded for it.
I’m not advocating communism. I just want to be on the other side. And so I’m sending off resume after resume in the hope that someone will take pity on me and give me a shitty entry-level position writing copy for shit I don’t care about. At least then I’d earn more money. I actually had a job interview yesterday, at Melbourne University Press, for a three-month internship. That was nice simply for the act of going to Carlton. Something about living in Sunshine and working in Tullamarine, commuting up and down on the Western Ring Road at the fringes of the city, usually before dawn or after sunset, makes me feel like I’m living at the periphery of human society. Like a rat scuttling in the shadows. If I can’t live in the city, I damn well want to work there.
When I first moved in with Kristie in Essendon it was only with the intention of staying for a few nights, until Jamie’s house in Sunshine became available. That sorry saga is still being played out, but with Jamie being evicted from the charming Brunswick townhouse by his DINK hosts, Chris languishing in Perth, and my own fate unsecured after Kristie’s lease expires in July and she takes off to Europe, we started rent hunting.
This would have been around Easter – in fact, yes, I spun the idea to Jamie at the Cornish Arms on the long weekend. So that was, what, two months ago? And yet we only recently found a place. It was a pain in the fucking ass, and I must say that in the age of the Internet I have no idea why any potential landlord still goes through real estate agents to find prospective tenants rather than using gumtree or craigslist. You can still get them to sign legal leases, so what is the point of a real estate agent anymore – somebody who serves as a pointless middleman? The house we eventually found was on gumtree and leased directly from the landlord, who was happy to give us a flexible lease considering that he’s bulldozing it to build a block of flats in about six months.
Chris was all set to move over, after his two week visit to Perth stretched into a three month visit, but then he was suddenly struck down with glandular fever and had to go to hospital to have a bunch of tests done. Between this and his bike being stolen (which he still hasn’t receieved an insurance payout for) I’m beginning to think he may have been a bloodthirsty dictator in a past life. (Actually, Hirohito died about nine months before he was born.) So he’s still waiting, and meanwhile it’s me and Jamie and Glenn, whom Jamie rescued from the crappy couchsurfing backpacker sharehouse he stayed in after Brunswick (where, amongst other things, he got bedbugs, had his Mac stolen, and had a knife pulled on him). Glenn’s friend Dylan is also staying with us, and Jamie’s friend Dave – who is planning to live in Sunshine with us – has a lease expiring in about a month. So I’ve gone from living in domestic bliss with my girlfriend, with a nice bedroom and warm bed and homecooked meal every night, to sleeping on a mattress on the floor of a male sharehouse. It is, as Orwell would say, like being a goldfish tossed into a tank of pike. But I need to learn to fend for myself sooner or later, and this is what I want. I have a good forty or fifty years to live with a girlfriend or wife; there’s only so many years of your life where you can live in a sharehouse with friends.
The house is in Camberwell, a very prosperous part of the city right next to Toorak, Melbourne’s traditional ivory tower suburb. The streets are lined with auburn trees and the houses are mostly large and regal. It vaguely reminds me of Hampstead in London – it’s where the old money lives. It’s a pretty decent house, quite new, palatial bathrooms and partially furnished, and about 400 bucks rent a week (for the whole house, not per person). There’s a semi-attached house out the back where an Asian girl and an Indian guy live, which has proved to be a little weird. Apparently Glenn woke up one morning and walked out into the living room, to find the Indian sitting at the coffee table doing some work.
“What are you doing in here?” he asked.
The interloper jumped at that and said “Oh… um… sorry, I didn’t think anyone was home.”
“Dude, that’s so much worse!” Glenn yelled, before kicking him out. This was not the first nor last intrusion, but he seems to have gotten the message lately. So all in all it’s a good house.
It is, however, not a good spot for my job. In Essendon I was fifteen minutes away from the airport; now I’m about 45. Every afternoon and evening I face a long, chilly commute down the Citylink tollway, watching the distant skyscrapers grow nearer, going past them on the Bolte Bridge, and then watching them grow just as distant again. I’ve started going around the boom gate in the long-term carpark to shave ten minutes off my commute, instead of parking in the staff carpark and waiting for the shuttle bus. But it still sucks. It’s also getting unbearably cold; I had a 7 am start yesterday, and was riding along in the 6 am darkness wearing thermal underwear, my thick bike jacket and a scarf, and was still freezing. I couldn’t feel my hands and feet for about half an hour afterwards. I was considering getting a car for the winter months, but tolls (which motorbikes don’t have to pay) would cost me at least twelve dollars a day. This is literally highway robbery, and Perth’s freeway is thus far the only thing Perth does better than Melbourne.
I’ve rapidly become sick of working in retail anyway. It’s the same thing every day: “Hi, how’s it going, would you like a bag for that, which account was that on, would you like a receipt, have a good day!” I hope I won’t come across as arrogant if I say I’m better than that. They’ve also made me go from casual to part-time, so that my pay has gone from $20 an hour to $16. Meanwhile Jamie and Glenn both just got pay raises, and are both on at least $50,000 a year. Jamie’s friend Dave is on at least $70,000. It’s time for me to stop working in crappy minimum wage jobs and start building a career. Even the shittiest entry-level position writing copy for things I don’t care about would pay better than a dead-end retail job. And I wouldn’t have to get up at 3 am on winter mornings. So I’ve started jobhunting, even though I can only do it when visiting Kristie, since there’s no Internet in our Camberwell house. I do have an iPhone now (a good rule of thumb is that whenever an awesome new piece of technology comes out, it takes about five years for it to become ubiquitous and affordable enough for people like me to own it) and that’s OK for Facebook and such, but browsing the Internet on it is cramped and tedious. It also has a shitty camera, which is a shame, because there’s a lot of nice stuff in Melbourne to randomly snap photos of. The iPhone 4′s is fantastic, but I’m using Jamie’s old 3G.
Since I had to change phones anyway I switched from Vodafone to Optus, since Vodafone’s constant fuckery was starting to irritate me. Turns out Optus is just as bad; the only places I really have decent reception are at the airport and in the CBD. Technology infrastructure in Australia is hopeless. Although with Optus I do get free Facebook and Twitter, and signed up to Twitter purely because of that. I’m “mitchedgeworth” if you feel like following me.
I finally got in trouble for my (lack of) license plate today, because there was a booze bus on the way to work. I explained to the cops that I’d been trying to get it replaced, and that I’d filed a police report and spoken to VicRoads and such, to which I receieved a surly “And how are we supposed to know that?” From the words that just came out of my mouth, I thought. What the fuck did they want me to do? I’ve been chasing this fucking thing for months and received virtually no help from any government employee between the Indian and the Pacific. When I finally did get my documents together and went to a licensing centre, I was told I needed to bring the bike, even though they’d previously told me I didn’t have to. So I have to wait weeks for the next available appointment. Needing to make an appointment just to hand in forms is also stupid.
I’m perpetually disappointed with government services (police, VicRoads, visa bureaus and consulates all over the world) and yet I’m also perpetually disappointed with private companies (Chris’ insurance company, Worldbridge, CityLink). Everyone’s an asshole and nobody wants to help you out. What the world needs more of is not love, but common human decency.
Anyway, they let me off with a warning but told me to replace them by the end of the financial year. Which will also be the first time I have some money in my pocket thanks to the tax office. I was looking at my payslip the other day and was flabbergasted to find that I’ve earnt $7000 since working at this bookstore and saved nary a cent of it. Somehow – between rent and groceries and booze and mattresses and winter coats and scarves and books and restaurant meals and comedy shows and train fares – it’s all slipped away. I know I said I wanted to start enjoying life again instead of constantly scrimping and saving like I was for the last three years, but ideally I’d like to enjoy life and put aside some money for future adventures. Hence the jobhunt.
I never know how to finish these things. I’ve been idly flicking through books of famous people’s journals at work (Michael Palin, Christopher Isherwood, George Orwell) and keeping a daily diary seems tempting, but I suspect it would reveal a depressingly tedious routine to my life. Lord knows these occasional updates are dull enough.
(Credit Will Watt)
I’ve been in Melbourne for about six weeks now. When we first arrived we stayed a few nights at Jamie’s temporary place of residence – a lovely old colonial cottage in Brunswick that was completely refurbished on the inside. It was a one million dollar piece of property belonging to his former boss, who was on vacation in the Philippines until March 9th – serendipitously the same date Kristie and Susie’s rental in Essendon became available. Unfortunately, Jamie’s host said he wasn’t comfortable with us sleeping on his couches until then, so we had to find somewhere else to stay for the two weeks until we could freeload off Kristie and Susie. It was quite a blow – I can of course totally understand somone not being comfortable with strangers staying in their house for two weeks, but after just a few days, we’d grown quite accustomed to a certain standard of living, similar to our Beijing days.
I jokingly pointed out to Chris that it would be cheaper for us to fly back to Perth on a budget airline for a few hundred dollars and stay with our families than it would be for us to stay in Melbourrne for that time. He promptly went ahead and did that. I, on the other hand, didn’t just make a big symbolic ride across the country only to fly right back for fiscal convenience.
Fortunately Kristie and Susie also needed to find short term accommodation, since they were arriving in a few days, and we ended up splitting a cheap triple room at a shitty hotel in the city centre. Even after backpacking across Asia this was probably the worst value place I have ever stayed, run by a couple of deadbeats who answered questions with surly grunts and half-replies. I wrote a bad review on Tripadvisor after we left, and a few days later realised I’d left behind my motocycle road atlas and rang up to see if they had it. After telling them my name and room number, the manager identified me as the writer of the review and reacted angrily. I hung up in surprise, and a few moments later my phone rang again. Kristie urged me to answer it, saying he probably just had my atlas, but I told her not to bother because thirty seconds of speaking to him had made it clear that he was not a reasonable man. She answered it instead, and I was right – he spent about twenty minutes raving about lies and defamation, claiming that one of the conditions of staying there was that you wouldn’t write a bad review, insulting me, threatening to take money out of my account with my credit card details etc. It boggles my mind how ill-equipped this man was to simply function in normal society and interact with other human beings, let alone run a fucking hotel. He was like Basil Fawlty mixed with Scrooge.
Anyway, we’re in a nice two-bedroom place in Essendon now. I was only supposed to be here for a few days, since Jamie’s house was supposed to be available on the 13th of March. Instead it was delayed… and then delayed again… and then delayed again. Now, buying a house is a very complicated process involving a real estate agent, the former owner, and something called a “conveyancer.” I have no idea what a conveyancer does, but it is this figure that has been holding Jamie up at every turn, giving him wrong dates, avoiding his calls, and even lying to him and saying that the owner was in Europe when Jamie had in fact seen him at the house just yesterday. Eventually Jamie called him a cunt and got a new one, but it’s now March 30 and we’re still waiting to see when we can move in – two possible dates of April 15 or March 22.
Jamie feels like he’s overstaying his welcome at his former boss’ house and is keen to move in ASAP, and Chris is still stewing away in Perth with no job and no vehicle – which makes transport impossible on that wretched suburban steppe. I, meanwhile, am OK with hanging out in Essendon a while longer. Since my parents divorced I spent eight years living with my mothering Mum, then seven years living with my neat and tidy Dad, then when Chris and I were in Berlin we were living with two girls, and I’m now again living with two girls who keep a well-ordered house and cook dinner most nights. I expect moving into a pure bachelor pad to be a shock to the senses. Jamie seems to survive on beer and cigarettes alone.
It’s also out in the suburb of Sunshine, which we might, if we were being very polite, call “socio-economically disadvantaged.” A few weeks ago I was on the phone to Jamie and he said “Hey, have you read the paper today?”
I’m going to do what my father does and invest in a nice baseball bat to keep by the bed.
The other downfall of Sunshine is that it’s about as far away from the city centre as the place I was living in Perth was. Of course, I came to Melbourne because I wasn’t ready to move to London alone. I’d rather be living in suburbia with friends than in a city centre alone.
(Credit Toshihiro Oshima)
And Melbourne accomplishes suburban living slightly better than Perth does. I’m in Essendon right now, for example, which is about eight k’s out of the city centre, but still has shops and trams and nightlife and medium-density housing. In Perth, travelling eight k’s out of the city centre will very easily plant you in featureless dormitory suburbs with nothing but houses, and maybe a shopping centre or two. (Which, mind you, is probably what Sunshine is like.)
It is, of course, still quite suburban and still unmistakeably Australian. I was discussing cities with Jamie the other night, who said that Sydney is more like New York and Melbourne is more like a European city. “Yeah…” I said, “But Sydney isn’t quite as good as New York and Melbourne isn’t quite as good as a European city.”
I don’t think Australia is ultimately for me. Melbourne is a good place to be for a few years, I think, as I begin – um, I mean finish – the transition from helpless child to responsible adult, build up a resume, save my money again etc. But there’s still travelling I want to do, and I’d still like to live in the USA or Canada for a while, and I’m fairly resolved to live in Europe eventually.
None of which is to say that Melbourne is not a fine city. Despite being younger than Perth it’s retained far more of its heritage buildings, which Perth would prefer to bulldoze to make way for monstrous McMansions, and a walk around the city centre is very pleasing to the eye. There are more cathedrals, and parks, and old theatres, and so on. Trams are awesome, although not really that useful except for short journeys. There are cool places like Sydney Road or Brunswick Road that are lined from beginning to end with shops and bars and cafes. Bats flap around at night. The weather is colder, by which I mean “not brutally hot.” It’s overcast a lot of days, like in Europe, which makes you appreciate the days of fine weather so much more.
Melbourne also has the best juxtaposition in the entire world between the best and the worst architecture humans are capable of. It takes place at the intersection of Flinders Street and St. Kilda Road, which could fairly be nominated as the very centre of Melbourne. On one side of St. Kilda Road, we have Flinders Street Station – a beautiful building in the French Renaissance style.
(Credit Michael Grant)
On the other side of St. Kilda Road, we have Federation Square, a horrific fractal nightmare. It looks like a photograph of a gigantic geometry set taken half a second after it started to explode.
(Credit Edwin Lee)
It’s hilarious. I challenge anybody to find me a single square kilometre of the planet’s surface which contains a greater architectural contrast than this one right here.
Melbourne also has somewhat confusing traffic, at least for a provincial lad like me. Near Kristie’s house is Essendon’s central roundabout, the bane of my existence: an utterly horrendous six-street valve which also features a tram stop, pedestrian crossings, and traffic lights. Even after escaping this deathtrap every morning on my way to work, I have to contend with the panoply of lines and lights and signs and markings that I simply don’t understand. On our first full day here Jamie took me and Chris for a bike ride through the CBD and I had no idea what the fuck was going on. I still get honked at a lot, and generally assume it’s my fault.
(Credit Toby Corkindale)
I have a job again, for the first time in nearly a year. After applying for several marketing and writing positions, I also applied for a bookstore job which I easily received. I already sort of feel like I’m wasting my time, still working in retail at 22, but I needed money and there are far worse jobs I could have during this transitionary period. I’ve always wanted to work in a bookstore, and it has proved to be pretty neat. Occasionally I get sent up to man the newsagency kiosk in the business lounge, where I can read TIME and the New Yorker and National Geographic cover to cover, and meet (read: serve) celebrities – so far Tom Gleeson, Andy Lee, Bert Newton and Chopper Read. I also walked past Charley Boorman, one of my personal idols, as he was exiting the terminal and I was entering. I wish I’d said something to him, but when you see a famous person it always takes at least five seconds for your brain to recover, and by then he was gone. Hopefully before long I’ll meet Sam Neill, which has become an obsession of mine since everyone else I know seems to have met him.
So on the whole this job is pretty neat, apart from the occasional 5 am starts. Which aren’t really that bad – getting up at 5.30 am is awful, but getting up at 3.30 am is so far beyond the pale that my brain can’t actually comprehend what’s going on, so it passes by fairly quickly and I have the afternoon off, even if I do feel like shit and fall asleep again when I get home. The worst part is riding down the Tullamarine Freeway before dawn when it’s 11 degrees – and it’s only autumn, and so far I haven’t even been rained on. Come winter I may have to invest in a cheap car.
Speaking of transport and motorbikes, Chris’ was stolen about a week or two ago. He posted it online because he intended to sell it, and left it with Jamie when he flew back to Perth. Jamie rang me one evening after returning home from work and asked if I’d come and taken Chris’ bike, to which I replied, “No, why would I?” and he said “Shit.” He’s going to lose a thousand dollars on excess, which sucks. Also just the general frustration of having something stolen. I like my bike well enough – I wouldn’t say I love it – but it’s still my fucking bike and if someone stole it from me I’d be well pissed, insurance regardless. I was furious enough when I thought someone had nabbed $400 from my bank account last year.
I’ve hung out with my old work friend Alex a few times, who moved here last year after returning from Russia. She and all her friends are from Perth; when I went to a party she threw last week with Kristie and Jamie, one of her housemates turned out to know Jamie. All of Jamie’s other friends are from Perth, as are Kristie’s, which of course makes sense – it’s a snowball effect, and one of the reasons I’m here myself – but when even random people I flag down on the street for directions say they were originally from Perth, it starts to feel like I’m in a city full of Western Australian refugees.
Which reminds me that I should be appreciating Melbourne more. I wrote this up and adorned it with swiped Flickr photos after leafing through some Melbourne travel books at work today, and remembering that I have in fact moved to a new city, one far more vibrant than my last. I should get out and explore it some more.
I had my Mastercard debit card details stolen yesterday, with somebody spending nearly $400 at a small electrical company in Sydney. That made me quite angry. I rang my bank on my lunch break and had them cancel my card, but they say they can’t challenge the transaction (which is still in authorisation mode) until it actually goes through. So I’m not sure what the purpose of having an authorisation mode is. It’s still sitting there in transit, and I probably won’t be able to do anything about it until after the Easter long weekend.
Everyone assures me that the bank will compensate me for any stolen money, but I don’t have a lot of faith in Bankwest, and it pisses me off regardless. I only ever use this Mastercard for buying things online or overseas, and I’ve used it twice in the last month. One was to buy plane tickets, which cleared on the 17th. The other was to buy World Nomads travel insurance, which I only did last week, and which cleared on the 31st. The fraud also occurred on the 31st, and took place in Sydney, where World Nomads is based. It’s not hard to connect the dots. Either they have a very unsafe connection or an employee with sticky fingers. They haven’t responded to my email about it, either.
Even if the bank reimburses me, it still pisses me off. We think about credit fraud as being bad in a vague, abstract kind of way, but when it actually happens to you it simultaneously makes you realise just how insecure modern finance is and just how much of a cunt an identity thief is. I was open to a career in ASIO or the Federal Police already, but now I’m definitely considering joining the fraud division of the AFP so I can spend my working days bringing down fuckheads who steal other people’s hard-earned money without even the courtesy of doing it in person. And as the years go by and I climb the career ladder, I’ll use the resources at my disposal to hunt down the guy who stole my $400 in 2010. And when I find him I’ll kill him. Real slow like.