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More Notes on Oz: Taking the bus and smelling good

May 22, 2010

I have to take the bus to work, and  I have a longstanding hatred for buses. And for good reason. For one, they are never on time. My first couple days of work I was 5-10 minutes late because my bus was so late. Coming home on Friday, my usual bus never even came and the next one that was supposed to arrive ten minutes later was a little more than five minutes late, so I sat at the bus stop for 25 minutes. You also get quite a range of bus drivers, some are very nice but some are quite nasty.

Finally, probably my most hated thing about buses (though once you’ve gotten to know your usual route this would be replaced by the lateness issue) is never knowing when to get off. I love trains because they have set stops that are obviously marked and you can easily figure out where you are and when you need to get off. On buses, you need to know where you’re getting off and be sure to signal before the bus passes it. My first couple days going to work I was so afraid of passing the office that I got off way too early and had to walk all the way down the street, watching the bus pull over again and again at more stops between me and my work. My first time taking the bus home I did the opposite, stayed on way too long, and found myself in the dark and rain in a place I had never been before. I wandered around asking people if they knew where my street was and none did. I finally went into a convenience store where the friendly man simultaneously searched online and in an atlas for my street and was able to help direct me the right way.

I sincerely believe that my stress level experiences a marked rise anytime I have to take a bus, lasting from the moment I arrive at the stop and start waiting (Did I miss it? Will it be late? Will it not come at all? Will I get on the wrong bus?) to the moment I get off (Did I get off at the right stop? Where am I?) But in the end, it’s cheaper than the train and closer both to my home and my work. So bus it is.

However, riding the bus has also opened my eyes to how truly friendly Australians are. Businesspeople actually say thanks to the bus driver when they get off the bus. Sure, when I’m traveling and I have to take a bus I often say thanks to the driver, but in the States if you took the bus to work every day, do you think you or anyone would say thanks to the driver everyday? I don’t think so. Taxi drivers are also especially friendly. They are happy and joking from the moment you hail them down to the moment you get out of the cab, providing nice and interesting conversation for as long as you want it during your ride. I’ve had my share of friendly and chatty cab drivers in my travels, but I think Australians might be the best.

On a different topic, I went grocery shopping today and went a little crazy (for me) since this week made me realize that I need to have everything I need for a week’s worth of lunches and dinners (especially quick and easy since Oscar’s not home early enough to whip up big delicious meals so I need to find things I can actually make myself). Needless to say, it’s mostly boxed or frozen, but I branched out to a few more things that actually need real cooking. Still my total was under $40. But the woman in front of me bought $115 worth of groceries. And I can list for you everything she bought. Two small boxes of raspberries and eight or nine small boxes of blueberries. Yes, blueberries cost more than $10 for a small box. Considering my fruit intake is usually entirely comprised of berries, I have been seriously going without since I’ve been here!

And if you’ve been keeping track of the currency markets, the Australian Dollar has fallen from being nearly equal to the US Dollar (which was not nice when I arrived here, living off USD, and everything cost an arm and a leg because of Australia’s crazy inflated prices) to being something like 80 cents to the dollar. Now that I’m earning AUD it’s worth much less if I take it with me back to the States. I’m hoping the Aussie dollar goes back up before that time comes. To illustrate, when I got here what I’m earning an hour would be equivalent to about $25USD. Now it’s equal to $20.80. That’s about $33.60USD less a day, $168USD less a week, and $672 less a month. Not cool! (Guess I’ll just have to spend all my money here!)

But on a final, more positive note, I should mention one cool thing about my work. The bathrooms are stocked with luxury perfumes (I’m guessing old testers from the stores?), so every day I get to smell like Dior J’adore, Angels & Demons by Givenchy, or Eternity by Calvin Klein. (Yes, I started keeping a list of the ones I use.)

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One Comment leave one →
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