Throwback Travel Thursday: Why I Love Australiaby Chris Flight | 11 months ago
My flight is scheduled to leave Australia to New Zealand at 5:25PM on Friday, June 22nd.
I end up getting a ride from a random Aussie guy – and arrive at the airport at 5:10PM – how the hell did I make the flight?
~~If you don’t have time to read – moral of the story: Australia is gorgeous and friendly and if you’re still in Brisbane – book a taxi a day or two before – if you can’t reach them, use a landline. Or have faith in random people.
**Lets rewind a bit. (June, 2007)
Well on June 21st, I decided to half pack my luggage before heading out for a night in the city at around 10PM – well I figure I have time and I am in no rush to leave.
My fun drunken night ends at around 4AM – but not enough for a hangover – I’m good.
I surprisingly wake up at 10AM – pack a bit more, then take care of some errands (buying last minute souvenir’s on Queen St., printing out my travel and plane receipts at Uni)
I’m thinking that I will head to the airport at 2-3PM – no sweat.
I get back to my house around 2. I am still not stressing, I have 3 and a half hours. I am in a laid-back attitude – and take some time to say bye to my good friend Connie, while I continue to pack (still taking my time).
Then I take a bit more time (10minutes) away from packing to Toowong shopping center and say bye to the best German drunken flatmate that I know (just joking Mario – you’re not always drunk). After I say farewell, I’m walking back to my house (another 10-minute walk) and I put ten dollars credit on my phone and attempt to call a cab and get it ready to pick me up.
I try again once I get home. Busy signal.
No stress, I will just finish my packing and give them another ring, it’s close to 3PM. About 3:10PM. Busy signal.
I sigh and turn on Mario’s computer to get the other cab number. It rings. Hallelujah!! – wait..”All operators are currently busy – please wait while the next available operator becomes available”
No worries, I am tidying up my room while I wait. When five minutes pass…the phone hangs up on me. Fuck it! – I call all the people I know with a car – no luck.
I call back the new cab number, with only about $5 credit on my phone left. – Busy Signal.
Ok – now I can start to panic. What are my options? – I have two huge luggages weighing 30kg’s each and 2 backpacks on top of that.
3:20PM – In an attempt to go to Toowong Station to Central Station, then the air tram to the airport which will take about an hour to an hour and thirty minutes if I hurry. I’m cutting it close.
Forget it, I drag both my luggage bags up the Sandford St. hill and near the street corner. – Starting to drench myself in sweat already, I let go of my bags, and sit on them. I take a breather and tell myself I need to recollect my thoughts and come up with a solution.
It is about 3:40PM and I am eyeing each car passing, debating whether to try and stop them.
I ring both cab numbers. Busy signal. Busy signal.
“Optus advises you that you have less than two dollars credit remaining” FUCK!
Ok, now it’s time to be concerned.
I get so desperate – an elderly woman (age 60-70?) sees me with my bags and asks if I’m going somewhere far. Well I ask her for a huge favor and I am willing to pay. Now that’s desperation – “She replies that she doesn’t have the time to go to the airport and back, she has something to do at five.” Smart woman – I didn’t feel comfortable in my request anyways. – I respond “No problem, thank you anyway”
I think about what I am actually doing. I need to definitely ask a guy – and preferably a younger one.
Time is ticking 4:10PM- every person or car with a person is old….I don’t know what to do.
I spot a younger guy, construction working guy throwing his tools in his old beat up truck – he sees me walking towards him. “Hey mate, how you goin?”
Still thinking that I can get to central station then take the air tram, I ask “Well – I really need a ride to central station – and I can’t get a cab around here – it just keeps giving me a busy signal”
He lets me know that “Well I don’t know if your luggage would fit, and that’s a bit out of the way for me. If you’re calling a cab from a mobile, it’s shit. Let me ring you a cab from the house phone”
He runs into his house aware of my deperate situation, comes back out “Hey mate, I gave them a ring – they should be here soon.”
4:20PMAs I wait – his friend comes out and asks if the cab is there, and makes small talk for a bit. I tell them my story – that I’ve been in oz since Feb and I’m leaving to New Zealand, Fiji, then home. The construction worker takes a call on his mobile, as I continue to wait for the cab – that I am now willing to pay $50-$60 to the airport.
4:30PM – no cab. Right now it takes about 40 minutes to an hour to get to the airport. I’m doomed – shit, my first missed flight.
The aussie contstruction worker gets off the phone and says – still no cab?? I helplessly respond “No” He throws some more stuff in his already full truck and says “Fuck it, I’ll take you”
I thank him constantly and tell him that I will pay him some cash. As he speeds down the roads, weaves through traffic, he exclaims “Ah, no worries mate, I enjoy the challenge” During the normally congested roadway – it is surprisingly clear. As he puts the pedal to the medal, he says “Shit mate, I don’t want to curse it – but I’ve never seen this section so clear of cars”
Still hoping that I can make it – I do what I can, and of the less that $2 credit on my phone, I call to get the Qantas airlines front desk number, then I call Qantas. – *Click* -my phone is out of credit.
I find out that the friendly Aussie patron’s name is Andrew, who tells me to use his phone – he says his work pays for the calls anyway. I call the Quantas international desk, give them my booking reference number and tell them I’m on my way! Someone must have been looking down on me – they tell me that “Your flight is running fifteen minutes late, try to get here as fast as possible. Good luck”
Holy ____! I have a chance. As we’re on our way – Andrew giving me time updates of about how long it will take. Weaving through traffic – he needs to get in a left lane to go on an offramp – I look out the window and smile at a lovely woman pointing in front of her car – our turn signal on. I must have had the Chris charm on full blast (or a pathetic pleading look) because she smiles back and nods. As we reach the last 5 minutes of the Los Angeles type driving on Brissy highways, I get his e-mail and slip him $AU 70 for Andrew’s trouble, still thanking him and still not sure if I could make my flight.
He parks the construction truck saying how that was the fastest he got to the airport and loads off the two 30kg bags. Tells me, good luck – I shake his hand, thank him and run off. I found the nearest Qantas station and said I need to check in. One of the ladies said that I was late – I said “I know…” with forlorn hope in my tone. Thankfully, she let me cut the entire line to the guy at the desk. The guy at the desk said “you’re too late” – not with a malicious tone – but just procedure and common sense, because it was about 15minutes before takeoff of an international flight – I guess you can’t blame him.
I helplessly told him (twice) that I called in and they said the flight was running late. He said he would do what he could, and made a couple calls on his walkie-talkie. After the first call he said “you got lucky” with a smile – then proceeded to call two more people and say “we’re gonna let another passenger on flight QF125”. Both the people on the other side of the call said “sure, not a problem” and the guy calling would end his calls in “Thanks, darling”. I loaded my luggage on the last belt headed to the plane, where another nice and kind Australian woman assisted me.
I could not help and think how lucky I was and after going through security, I tirelessly ran to my plane. As the public speaker said “Last call to board flight QF125 to Auckland”, I saw the guy making the announcement – getting there the last possible second.
5:40PM – In a complete daze as I loaded my carry on backpacks and sat in my small aisle seat- I could not help but laugh and smile ear to ear.
Australia really is that friendly – and safe. I love it and miss it already. I know that at some point I will return and visit the many beautiful places that I have yet to travel.