November 16th 1982

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 1
Chris the barman

Our not having a watch is proving a real pain at the moment.  Normally we don’t miss one at all, since we rarely have a need to know the exact time.  And when we do, there’s usually someone around to ask.  Now, tho’ there are 2 occasions during the day when we have to go to work.  And on both occasions we seem always to find a dearth of watch-bearing people.  The most awkward of those 2 occasions is in the morning.  The uncertainty of not knowing whether one is late for work or not spoil the relaxation of lying in bed.  We began by taking it in turns to go + discover the time, but now we generally make a wild stab at the time, + get up anyway.  We’ve both been appallingly early, + on the verge of being late.  This morning, there was no work for Val, tho’ unfortunately she didn’t discover this until after she’d got up.

For Part 1 of the morning, I washed down the other block of motel units, + then after tea-break, attacked all the outsides of the windows of both blocks with a chamy leather.  For once, I was actually quite pleased with the results of my efforts, altho’ fortunately the sun wasn’t too bright, so didn’t subject them to too severe a test.  For the last quarter of an hour or so, I helped Wayne with holding the step-ladder while he sheared a big bush.  Sounds simple, but part of the bush jutted out over a very severe slope, so I had to use a bit of muscle-power (alright, jokes over) to prevent him toppling to an untidy end.

The usual activities in the afternoon – halo, swimming, eating.  Val went to work early to clear up the restaurant, + I joined her at 5.30, my usual time.  Not that I really need to have bothered, since the coach party, comprising virtually our entire group of customers, was late, so I could spend half an hour doing virtually nothing, even tho’ I’d done all my chores plus some extra ones.  I had an easy evening, just about managing to keep busy, serving drinks in the restaurant.  One of the non-tour tables was of 3 guys from the campsite, young Aussies + very friendly – I chatted with them for a while.  When they left, they said goodbye etc, + one of them came up to me at the bar + put a tip in my shirt pocket.  I was very pleased of course, but waited till they’d gone to examine it.  I was expecting probably $2, but possibly just $1.  Dazed is far too weak a word for it.  $20.  I repeat, twenty dollars.  A green twenty dollar bill.  In some state of shock, I went off to find Val, but fortunately she wasn’t around.  I say that because it then occurred to me that $20 that Val doesn’t know about would come in very handy with her birthday coming up.  Especially for Ingredient X, of which more later.  All I’ve got to do now is make sure Val doesn’t read this too soon.  She shouldn’t – she has barely started this book, + it should take her ages.  Fingers crossed.

A quick PS – I almost had to clamp my hands across my mouth to stop myself from giggling on the walk home, when Val was telling me about how our friends had given $2.10 to Jane, the other waitress.  Pah!

And still we don’t have a watch. Which is ridiculous, given how busy and complicated our life is at present, juggling two jobs.

But a real result in the evening, with so generous a tip. I do remember feeling guilty at the time though, wondering whether I ought to have shared my good fortune with the rest of the staff. Well, you know the results of my exploring my conscience.

  1. Pamela J Blair

    It’s so true, that the meaning of time changes on travels like ours. Like how much longer it took for you to reach the Gallapagos, or other places where days would go by, and yet, you weren’t really late. It took me months to reach Tanzania from Cairo, moving slowly down through Sudan. After a four-day train trip that landed me at noon on a Monday in Wau, in southern Sudan (not yet South Sudan), I went to the ticket office to buy a ticket for the lorry that would carry me to Juba (four days, 300 miles), and found there was one lorry and it left on Monday morning. So I had to while away a week in a backwater little town. I found lodging on the porch of some young men who ran a youth center, and spent my days by the river, watching hippos cavort. Just one instance of how, without a need to get back to a job, a trip can ramble on and on. Then it’s a shock, when you actually have a job and have to be “on time.”

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