I dumped my bags in a back room of my hotel in Brisbane while they prepared my room, and then stopped into a coffee shop around the corner, re-energized by being back in Australia. My heart was full, being back in this country that is so important to me, and I ordered a coffee from a beautiful Aussie man behind the bar.
I remembered how charming everyone seems. I have to ask myself, is it the accent or are people actually this nice?
He brought me breakfast, a free wifi password, and coffee, so had to talk myself down from convincing him to marry me, as he obviously knew how to take care of me and could very easily get me a visa for this place.
I checked into the hotel, hung out by the pool for a few hours, and got ready to start work the next day, as that was part of the deal for getting a hotel and plane ticket paid for.
I rocked my fluorescent vest that I was required to wear in order not to get hit by a forklift during my setup, got catcalled from a car window as I was hauling boxes inside, and thought I might still have it even though I’m now 30.
I was exhausted at the end of every day I spent working, but I forced myself to go downtown and walk around to soak up as much of the city as possible.
Brisbane was mainly work only, so when my last night took an unexpectedly long time to tear down I was jet lagged, cranky, and ready to get to bed. I was wrapping up a pallet to ship to Sydney, when a man, also sporting a florescent vest came up to me and said, “Let me do that for you, Doll.”
“I can do it,” I replied, as I’m a social cripple who is unable to accept help from anyone.
“I don’t doubt it,” he grinned, “but just let me take over and you can take care of the rest of the things you need to do.”
He gently took the wrap out of my hands and got to work as I stood there silently while my heart exploded from being so full.
I struggle with asking for help. This is a huge issue that I always try to work on, but I immediately feel guilty or that I owe people a huge debt for accepting their help. And I am capable of a lot on my own.
I live by myself. I travel by myself. I have to be able to function independently or none of that works. So I fully recognize asking for help as a trait that I struggle with. There are times when I want it but still say no because I feel like if I’ve gotten into a situation I should be able to get myself out. I’d rather be the helper 1000 times over than the helpee.
But this guy epitomized what I love about Aussies and what I need a massive dose of in my life. He offered, and even though I said no, he acknowledged that he knew I could do it alone but he was going to make my life easier and take the reigns. And it was an immense relief.
The Sydney convention was insanely busy when I got there, and once again I found myself learning how to deal with my flaws and turn them around.
People are trustworthy. People are good. People are willing to help because it’s the right thing to do, not because they want anything in return.
That’s the antithesis of everything I believe to be true, but in Australia, it becomes my mantra, and I can feel myself soften and be able to relax, if only a little bit.
It is like Australians can smell my need for help. They don’t just offer it. They take over and do it.
I was working the con in Sydney and got to know the people running the booths around me who I’d chat to every morning and evening. In the middle of the con I was swamped. When I ducked down behind a table to grab a tee, I would take a deep breath because I knew it was the only time I could regroup before I got back up to help the swarm of people around my table.
I didn’t have time to eat. I didn’t have time to pee. I could only focus on getting to everyone as fast as humanly possible. That was all. My only mission was to address every member of this mob as quickly as humanly possible before it grew beyond my control.
The woman in the booth across from me pushed through this mob to my booth and brought me water.
A girl dressed as the cowardly lion bought three shirts from me and then returned, pushing through the crowd to give me a coffee she bought me, apologizing by telling me she didn’t know if I wanted sugar but she put it in anyways.
I thanked her genuinely, as I was moved by that level of kindness.
The girl next to the lion said, “I’m glad you did that because I was just about to buy her a drink when I left here because she has been this busy all day.”
I’ve been losing my faith in humanity as of late. I feel like I wake up every morning to something new and terrible happening in the world, and I feel it slipping through my fingers even though I’m struggling to keep a firm grasp, or some semblance of hope and goodness in people.
Whenever I feel this way, I know I have to find my way back through the things that mean the most to me, whether that is travel, music, friends, or family. Australia entered my life right when I needed it to. It’s been the small, weird gestures from my time there that gave me the hope I needed to push forward.
People aren’t all assholes. These people are nice. These people are genuine and good.
I had to pee for a few hours when I only had a few customers left.
The man across the booth from me, my guardian angel, as I like to call him, appeared and asked what I needed. Not if I needed anything. It was “What do you need? What can I do to help?” There wasn’t the gap where I would normally say “I’m fine,” or “I can handle it.”
I looked at my guardian angel, who I’d known for all of 24 hours and said, “I’m not going to lie to you, man, I’ve had to pee for 3 hours now, and I’ve been debating whether I just need to abandon ship over here completely or pee my pants as a 30 year old woman at my place of work.”
He let out a booming laugh, turned to the people, and said, “Alright! I’m taking over here for five minutes while this girl uses the bathroom. If you can’t wait on her, just leave now because you don’t deserve a shirt!”
He grinned and gestured for me to take my leave, and he walked into my booth, a tall and looming figure keeping an eye on all of my belongings while I was gone.
I relieved myself, ran back, and he was still looking out.
“Thank you SO much! That might be the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me,” I said.
“I hope that’s not true,” he laughed.
“If you knew how much pain I was in, you would know that this is a massive, genuine heart-felt thank you.”
“I know it is,” the angel said. “but it’s just what we do. We look out for each other.”
I offered to bring breakfast and coffee the next morning, and he said absolutely not. He expected nothing. “It’s just what you do,” he retorted.
Like any true angel he was not there the next day, disappearing with a nod and a goodbye as when he left that night. Different people took over the booth the next day, and I knew I’d never see him again.
I walked back to the hotel thinking, “I could get used to this again.” It had changed a lot since I was there so long ago, but Australia has always been good for my soul, and continues to be even after nearly a decade.