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Heading over to Hoki

4 comments | 1:57 pm | top |
"...A slapstick sort of show, with a guy making smart comments, and a roomful of people laughing..."

That morning, I had had to get up early, to go to work. I had gone to bed the night before, my packed bags lying on the ground beside my bed. Wakened by the ear-splitting alarm clock at 4:30am in the morning of Saturday, the 28th of February 2004, I lunged at the clock, smashing down with my fist on the snooze button, anxious not to annoy the sleepers. Well, I did the normal stuff, pulled on my grotty old work clothes: the Nike sports shoes that I found at a garage sale, with a disgusting brown mess over the front of them, all bread crumbs and stuff that just etches itself into anything when you work at a bakery, the screwed up shorts from under the bed, and the old polo shirt, light blue in colour, and which I tend to wear unbuttoned at the neck, due to the strenuous work… Anyway, to cut a fairly long story short, I arrived at work, having locked the front door with the key on the keychain with the ancient Koosh on it, that I have and biked in the dark, along Wiltshire, into Berkshire, right into Apsley, right into Withels, and then left into Maidstone. From there, you know, it is really a pretty straight run. You just keep going till you get to the corner of Maidstone and Waimari, and the Bakery is just down a bit. After work, I biked home. Why am I telling you all this stuff which isn’t even part of the story, you ask? “No comment”. I arrived home, anyway. I think I was going to have a shower, but I sort of ran out of time. Anyway, who needs showers? Now, the plan was that Mum or Dad was going to take me down to Church Corner, just opposite Growers Direct, to the bus stop. Apparently I was going with Alpine. (The bus company). Man, you know, a funny thing happened. A couple of days ago; when I’d rung up about the costs, and times of the different busses going over to the West Coast, I had rung Atomic, (another bus service). I booked a seat, for the Saturday morning. Anyway, later, maybe a couple of days later, I’d decided I wanted to leave later in the day, so that I could work at the Bakery. So Mum rang Alpine, and asked to book a seat for a certain Andrew Moore, for 1:30pm on the Saturday. Well, believe it or not, I was already booked. Somehow, even though I’d rung up Atomic, the Alpine people had me in their records, and the Atomic people hadn’t even heard of me!!! Phuakahhhh!!! There is no possibility, at all, (at least, I don’t think so), that I could have rung Alpine, having not read correctly, the name, (which was Atomic), and had not listened closely, when the receptionist spat out her garbled: “goodmorningalpinebusservicesyourspeakingwithwhoever” and I didn’t hear that I’d rung the wrong place!!!

Well, I was getting pretty frantic, at around about 1ish, checking with Mum that she was sure that she had booked the right day, time, and that it was definitely 1:30pm at opposite Growers direct, and where was Growers Direct, and was she sure that it was Atomic?, which way would the bus be coming, I didn’t have enough money to pay for the seat, did she, when would we have to leave… Well, as it turned out, we got there in time. Mum popped across the road to buy some stuff at the Vege shop, (Growers Direct), while I leaned one the roof of our white 92 Toyota Corolla, which has done just over 200, but you wouldn’t know it. I’d given Mum my card, and confided in her the pin, and she was going to get $35 for me, so that I could pay the guy, - the bus driver. I’d be reimbursed at the other end anyway, but this just made it a bit simpler. Mum got back, I’d already unloaded my big “Rugged Gear” suitcase thingy on wheels, which doesn’t look all that rugged, my large backpack, and I think there was something else, too, just can’t remember. So, I left the stuff on the footpath, the side of the road where the cars are coming out of town, and heading out West, I spose. We got in the car to wait for the bus, because Mum reckoned it was cold. I was still unsure as to which way the bus would be coming from, and it was disconcerting to watch busses passing us, on the other side of the road… At last, I spotted a whitey colored bus with a bit of writing, - or so it seemed, from afar. As it came round the corner, a good 400 meters away, I was fairly sure as to it’s species, and Mum and I were both out of the car, standing at the side of the road when I could properly read: “Alpine”, on the front of the bus. Sure enough, it was. The bus pulled up, the driver got out, and pre-empted me: “Andrew?” he asked, and I agreed, feeling satisfied with the organization of the company. So I handed over the money, a twenty, a ten and a five, and jumped on the bus, after getting my stuff in the back compartment. I was sitting a few seats behind the driver, and, until we got past Darfield, we were stopping occasionally to pick up more travelers. The driver had the radio on: A slapstick sort of show, with a guy making smart comments, and a roomful of people laughing. The guy at the wheel grunted, too, to show his appreciation, when there was something extra “special”. But then, next time I listened for it, he’d already turned it off. Phew. I had been kinda worried that we were going to have to listen to it the whole way. It must have been about halfway between the Russley Roundabout, and Darfield, that we picked up another, fairly notable traveler. I never got her name, and I’m not all that worried that I didn’t. The notable thing as I saw it, was that she talked, - talked, - talked. She would have been, what, late fifties, and was sitting across, and ahead a seat or two from me. She talked, virtually the whole way, (on and off, admittedly), to a couple who were sitting directly in front of me. They were “old”, too, and so, they got on alright. They talked about nephews, nieces, houses, grandchildren, travel, anniversaries, husbands, etc. I was quite happy just to listen, half-heartedly to what they were saying, (and it was really the other woman who was the main talker, the other two just listened, and popped comments in, here and there, when they found a gap. The bus driver, also, (who appeared to be fairly knowledgeable on virtually any subject, (such as Asian drivers, and so on, mainly stuff to do with traffic, roads, and the like.), could be relied upon to give a fairly authoritative account of whatever they were talking about. You know how bus drivers are? Plenty of time to talk, and accumulate gossip, and come up with their own views on anything you want to talk about…

So, anyway, as I’s saying, I was content with just letting the talk wash over my head, I read a few pages of the Fellowship of the Ring, but I’m not much good at reading in cars, and with the particular atmosphere, it was even harder. I looked out the window, at Middle Earth, and checked my cell-phone, to see if I was still in range of a cell tower. At Arthur’s Pass, we stopped for fifteen minutes. I just stayed in the bus, most of the time. Then, about fifteen minutes out of Arthur’s Pass, just before the Otira Gorge, we were underneath the trees, which were joining, some of the time, above the road, blocking out the sunlight, when -. I heard the bus driver say something about a “nasty one” I looked out the window, and, sure enough, there was a scene of carnage, on the side of the road. A metallic blue car, Sort of Nissan Skyline style, - only, you don’t often see metallic Skylines, completely staved in at the front, - a white ute, more of a truck, then a ute, - you know, with the wooden back, and no nose? Double cab style, with engine under and between the front and back seats. Didn’t look as though it had taken it too hard. I caught a glimpse of someone lying face down, and other people crouching round. The bus didn’t slow down though. We sped on, quite a bit more, I suppose, sobered. I looked at my cell-phone to see if I was in range, so I could ring for help. Even if I had been in range, they more than probably would already have been alerted to the situation.

As it happened, we approached Hokitika from Greymouth, which meant about fifteen minutes extra. Still, what’s ¼ of an hour, in a four hour journey? We dropped a load of people off at Greymouth, and then headed into Hokitika. It was raining hard, as we pulled up at the travel centre. The travel centre is probably just about the centre of the tiny town of Hokitika. The population is only 3000 souls, and so many more mozzies. Looking out the window, through the driving rain, I saw a van. Not just a normal van, this was a nine seater, a Nissan, a dirty great diesel, grey in hue. Well, that as good as told me that there was someone to pick me up.

The Mc Garveys. As I got out of the bus, and ran round to the back, to get out my stuff, I looked back and saw Jonathan, and his Mum, Sonya, getting out. I manhandled my weighty “Rugged Gear” suitcase down to the ground, up, over the curb, and leant it against the bench seat. I then grabbed my gianormus backpack and got back under the shelter of the overhang of the travel centre. I did what you do, when you meet people, I said hello. Then, it seemed the most natural thing to start walking to the van, dragging my cumbersome load behind me. Jonathan took it upon himself to carry the bag. Now, in one of these vehicles, you’ve got the front two seats, one in the middle of these, I recall, then three more, (in the middle of the van), with another set of three right at the back. Behind these back seats was the boot. The boot was opened, and my luggage was jammed in. We did it quick, due to the rain. Then, as if in mutual consent, Jonathan and I took seats in the middle of the van. And, yes, we did remember to shut the boot. Well, what do you talk about, when you’ve just met someone, and you know that the trip you are on will be over in a matter of minutes, and that after this, there will still be three weeks to talk about whatever you feel like? I told them briefly about the smash I’d seen, the weather back in the Garden City, stuff like that.

Well, that just about gets us to the place where we wrap it up. I had intended, when I sat down to type, to write a story of the time I spent over on the West Coast, and chiefly, regarding the work I was doing. However, my fingers got away from me. And, unleashed, incase you’ve never experienced before, in my writing, they just go wherever they want. So, there you have it. Three odd pages on a trip in a bus to the other side of the country.

(written about two and a half years ago)

4 Comments:

Blogger John Sinclair said...

that is one long post mate...

2:54 pm, September 21, 2006 
Blogger Andy Moore said...

Hmmm. That's like an reiteration of the comment at the top of your own
>post
. But well put.

6:11 pm, September 21, 2006 
Blogger Andy Moore said...

(excuse the shoddy code...

6:12 pm, September 21, 2006 
Blogger Andy Moore said...

Heck, I left out the )

Can't be having a good day...

6:12 pm, September 21, 2006 

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