Prologue 3: Waiting in Melbourne Part 1.
Who knew waiting for the caravan would end up being such an adventure. We had to take our one night out of the resort and find a hotel. Ballarat was fully booked so we decided to head to Melbourne where we found a boutique type hotel room, centrally located close to the tram lines.
There was not much parking. So this “boutique” consisted of an elegant older house with an above ground tunnel attachment through the garden area, connecting it to what was once an older apartment building. It was on a lovely street, separated from one of the major roads by a nature strip and large trees. We could either park on the street, wherever . . . Including 5 blocks away, playing the “where the hell will we park now” game every time we left and came back, hauling our stuff through the city like pack mules minus the muscles and the “I could give a shit” attitude most mules possess OR (isn’t this sentence epic???) we could pay to park in the limited parking area in the back.
We decided to pay.
We assumed that “limited parking” meant that there were just a few spaces. We first drove into the typical parkade door to find ourselves in what looked like a small garage bay. The door closed behind us and we looked at each other and then around the garage for where we were supposed to park. There appeared to be room to park maybe three vehicles in a very random, angled kind of way … maybe. There were no other vehicles. And then we saw a door attached to a large container and a button. OH, the ramp was clearly there, behind the door! Right?
We drove up to it and pushed buttons and nothing happened. We waved our key card. We tried to insert it into even the cracks in the cement column, nothing. Derek tried swearing. He used the old words that usually worked and then started inventing new ones. We decided to leave, except we couldn’t. We were prisoners in a parking garage down a long dark back alley and no-one was ever going to be able to find us. Derek, sensing my hysteria building, gave me the look. I started visualizing cute puppies and ice cream.
Finally, 3 housecleaning staff walked into the area.
We asked for help. I think we scared them. Two older people, in a big truck, hot and sweaty, waving cards in their face and talking really fast and super loud. Ya, looking back on it, I think they were scared.
None of them spoke English and none of them seemed to understand what we wanted or what we were doing there. I walked over to the pole while Derek was making hand puppets and pushed the button in that really annoying way I push buttons and they work after he has been pushing it for an hour with no results. The door began to move. Derek dropped the hand puppets and rushed over to get in the truck. The door slowly opened to the crate like entrance, except it wasn’t an entrance to anything but the crate itself. It was an elevator!! It was an elevator with a sign at the other end of it with a whole wall of instructions. I refused to look at Derek. I had earned this hysteria. I just wanted to go park on the street, 5 blocks … 10 blocks away … I didn’t care, as long as it did not involve a car elevator.
Hubby put the truck in gear. I said, “Oh my God, an ELEVATOR? NO WAY!!” and he said “An elevator? You beauty. This will be fun!” See, we are very very different people. He started to drive in, the creaking and groaning commenced … of the elevator, not just me. I said the mirrors were going to hit. He hit a button and the mirrors folded in. He followed the instructions written on the wall. I squinted and tried to read the instructions written on the wall. We waited for the beeping to stop, except our car was beeping because we were too close to everything and it was impossible to tell what was beeping and what wasn’t. We backed up, we moved forward, about 12 times, waiting to be in the exact spot so the elevator would work. We argued about what the instructions on the wall meant. I don’t know why I bother doing that because, despite the fact Derek lets me argue, he doesn’t ever listen to what I say. He just feels it is important that I be heard, not listened to, just heard, as in he is aware that someone in the room is speaking. I begged hubby to just go find the street. He kept trying to find the spot. Finally, the elevator dropped a couple of inches and when I stopped screaming, we looked and noticed the doors were sliding shut.
And nothing happened. We were locked in the crate.
We just sat there.
And we sat there.
I knew we were going to die. We would run out of oxygen, the truck was still running, we would die of carbon monoxide poisoning. They would think we committed suicide. I have mild claustrophobia. I did what any sane woman would do, I started to cry. Hubby said what he normally does in these tense situations. “Hello, what’s going on?” Like someone is going to answer him. The only answer he has ever got is usually me screaming that we are all going to die.
And then we heard what sounded like metal on metal and there was a little movement and the crate jumped and shook and we started to move. I dug my nails through the bullet-proof hard plastic on the door. It seemed to take forever.
Finally, the door opened and we could see we were on a small parkade floor. Cars were parked in front of us leaving us with room to make a 58 point turn out of the elevator, gambling on which direction would lead us to an empty parking space. Limited parking clearly meant so much more than just a few spaces. It meant parking in a limited environment. We got out of the elevator and did the additional 58 point turn into a parking space and realized that I could not get out of my door. We did 29 points back out so I could get out, 29 points back in and Derek got out of his side. We found the stairs and started climbing to the floor we were staying on. Yes, this was soo much better than the hassle of parking on the street, AND we got to pay for it too!
Once up in our room, we sort of sat on the art that doubled as furniture and just looked at one another. I wanted to curl up into a foetal position and sleep. Derek needed to unwind, so he reached for the television remote. We could not believe the damn thing did not work. Immediately suspecting the batteries we opened it up and took the batteries out, switched them around and tried again. This is a proven scientific method of repair, based on the theory that batteries, although dead, if moved around, get confused, and come back to life. I works surprisingly well. I am just amazed that people have not tried digging up graves to see if moving bodies around brings them back to life. I suggested it once, after several bottles of Baby Duck, some time ago when you could say “Baby Duck” with a straight face and people were actually impressed at how sophisticated you were. This is where the phrase “stupid drunk” came from, as in “she was stupid drunk.” All me.
Science failed us in this case.
We tried everything, even reading the instructions. And then you get to the point where you have pushed so many buttons, you know, if it wasn’t broken before, it was now. We did the only thing we could, we called the front desk and reported the tragedy with voices laced with disappointment which is much more effective in countries where the hired help depend on your tips and so actually have incentive to do something . . . not so much in Australia where they pay them too much for them to care. An hour went by, and almost another. We had already turned off the lights and looked in all the windows we could possibly see into across the back alley that our room faced. People were not entertaining. We were bored. We called again. This time we switched to bad cop and yelled at the young man on the other end of the phone for making us wait, on top of giving us a remote control that was clearly broken.
We weren’t even ashamed of ourselves. This is what happens when you get older.
The guy came up, we started what was to be an hour story, complete with homemade sock puppets about how the remote did not work despite our many genius attempts to get it going. While we were talking, the young man pointed the remote at the television and clicked it once. The television turned on immediately.
I quietly put the sock puppets back in the suitcase and started to disassemble the stage.
It was not so much that he got it going immediately without a problem, it was the look he gave us. And then he started talking really slowly, assuring us it was not a problem at all and he asked if we knew how to work the microwave and the fridge. He pointed out the hot water tap in the shower and said we should be careful, it can get very, very hot. He asked if we had any other questions and let us know we shouldn’t hesitate to ask for whatever help we might need. Someone could help us down the front steps if they were too much for us when we wanted to go out. If he had tried to pat our heads, I was going to deck him. Once he left the room Derek and I just looked at each other. There was no denying it anymore. The unspoken words hung thick in the air around us. I stared off out the window and Derek patted my shoulder. We knew the entire staff would now be aware of the older couple in room 583 who may need help with some of the more technical things in the hotel, like the light switches. I went to take a long bath. Derek reminded me about the hot water and patted me on the head.
Others in this Series:
Prologue 1: We Bought a Caravan.
Prologue 2: Waiting.