Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

The torture of Dept. of Human Services

April 6, 2017

 

photoSalvia Nr 1

Salvia

Our day will involve getting our travel concession travels sorted out. I  felt so proud a few weeks ago. I finally managed to get our Opal travel cards. This is the card you need when catching trains, buses or even a ferry. You get to tap it on a metal pole at the beginning of the journey as well as at the end. The pole seems to recognize your unique profile and deducts the cost of your travel from this magic card. It seems rather lugubrious that we are now identifiable by plastic cards that we store in our wallets. What happens to my ‘profile’ after I am gone? Will I just be remembered by my Opal card?

It wasn’t an easy journey to finally get this card. A big problem with modernity is that no matter where one goes or what one intents to achieve, one needs to log on to something. The logging on is presented as a heaven on earth. ‘Just log on to some dot.com. and the world is your oyster.’ As if! What they don’t tell you is that as soon as one tries and ‘log on’ it asks for your profile. This is some kind of internet mug shot. To establish this profile one needs a password. This password needs to be well hidden and it is suggested to write it down. I had a booklet of those passwords but I have lost it. Almost all dotcoms tell you to never let anyone know your passwords.  As soon as I got yet another password I quickly used to write it down in my special red coloured password booklet. But this booklet was so well hidden, it is lost.

This in reference to a letter addressed to ‘Dear Gerard.’ from the Dept. of NSW transport. It seems  we are no longer eligible for the Gold Opal card. (because of a change in our circumstances.) We both need to act and cancel our Gold Opal card and change over to a different Opal card. If we don’t we will not only lose our Gold Opal card but also lose any credit that still exists on our present cards.

The sting is that to achieve the change you need to log on to opal.com.au. As my passwords are so well hidden they are lost I can’t log on. However we could also go to a real office and get it changed manually by a Government employee. In an effort to squeeze more money out of the taxpayer many departments are now bundled together into just one. It is called Department of Human Services. I have some experience with it. Human services my a*”se.

A while ago I was fined twice for illegal parking. I checked it out and both parking infringements posted out to me occurred on the same day and at the same time within the same second and minute. How could that be? However, in my gallant effort to get one of those fines cancelled, I just about lost the will to go on. I desperately tried to log on  to the Infringement department of the Motor Transport, even to the extend to request a new password. ( the old one was hidden, remember!)  It was hell, and I was reduced to just incoherently tapping over my computer. Milo looked up and knew something was terribly wrong too.  After recovering I ended up going to the Human Services and had the fine cancelled. The Human Services girls were dressed up in a cheery red uniform but were as difficult to contact as it was on the internet. One told me to stop shouting. I wasn’t shouting.

So, in about an hour or so and after a shower we will go to this Human Services office to try and sort out our Opal travel card. I will keep you informed. I do hope we won’t need our passwords.

 

Why is everything so much more complicated?

 

 

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This business of earning Money. ( Auto-biography)

June 29, 2015

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While the stay at the chalet high-up at Bressanone was a ‘life changing event’ ( as modern parlance would have it), the question soon arose on how to go forward. While many would agree on ‘money doesn’t make happiness,  ‘happiness doesn’t make money either.’  Money still needs to be available when buying the corn-flakes or onions and paying bills.

The big question was that while a career, wearing a suit or doctor’s coat, wasn’t anymore on my horizon  how on earth would I survive? Bernard had been working as a tourist guide and with his knowledge of languages it was a fairly easy and well paid job. He suggested that I do the same. I wasn’t sure I was cut out or possessed the jovial countenance or enough savoir faire,  to fulfil the expectations of tourists that had been primed by travel agents to experience Italy in a 6hour discounted bus-trip through Tuscany and back to Pompeii!

In Australia I had experienced a long list of many jobs and also done a certificate course in quantity surveying. To this day I don’t know why I did it,  but perhaps it had something to do with my ‘suit wearing’ ambition period. I would imagine sitting in an office, conversing with Moroccan architects and quantity surveyors offering expert advice on how to get through the tricky bits of attracting quotes for all the different trades, while rocking on my  Finnish Alvar Aalto pressed ply-wood chair. I had already worked on building sites including working outside buildings from swinging stages. I had also, together with Bernard, worked for painting contractors and  prior to that, apprenticed for a while in that trade.

In the meantime I decided to return to my family in Australia. So did Bernard who suggested we set up a business with buff coloured letter-heads and matching envelopes. We both booked a boat from Naples through Thomas Cook travel agents. I remember a Mr Diacomo in Sydney who had arranged my travel to Europe before, but Thomas Cook in Naples was a different animal. Not once did we get an acknowledgement of our requests for a booking to Australia. While Bernard decided to go to Naples to sort out our fares, I decided to stay on in the chalet and wait for confirmation of the date that we would sail from Naples to Sydney.

When the travel confirmation finally arrived I decided to try and catch a lift to Naples. On the first hour of my effort to catch a lift the rubber band through the sole of my thongs and held between my toes snapped. Even despite that, or because of my limping on one thong, I managed to get a lift half way and caught the train for the remaining distance. Travelling by train in Europe is always fascinating. At most stations in Italy, someone would be walking alongside the train and for a few hundred lire one could get a hot chicken with crispy bread roll and small bottle of red wine. Absolutely fantastic and complete strangers would offer bits of their food as well. It was a cultural eye opener how in Italy food is shared no matter where or how. One Italian man got up when I arrived in Naples and even adjusted my tie. I could not imagine on the Bowral – Sydney train journey someone adjusting my tie even if I was wearing one. The police would probably make an arrest!

The arrival in Naples was as busy and hectic as Bressanone in Tirol was quiet and serene. An amazing rail station and amazing city. Bernard had a hotel room at Piazza Garibaldi right opposite the rail station. It was a very busy part of Naples with coffee sipping, loud talk and lively arguments on the footpaths day and night. The noise level of Naples alone makes it a wonderful and lively city. How a noisy city vibrates and excites!  We had just enough money left to see us through the five weeks on-board, a car on arrival in Sydney for our planned contracting business, and the printing of the buff coloured letterheads with ‘Head-Office’ at my parents place in Revesby.

The trip on board was of course taken up with chess while Bernard also met a French woman who took a fancy to him even though her husband was right besides her. She had a very large pony-tail and she played footsy with Bernard while playing bridge. It came to a disastrous head some months later when she decided to cut of this large pony tail and posted it to Bernard as a sign of her profound love and devotion. But as most ship romances flounder on the rocks of on-shore reality, so did this one. She and husband were living in Brisbane and Bernard in Sydney. We had sat up a good business and were getting reasonable contracts painting blocks of home-units. Sydney was in the middle of a home-unit boom and we caught its head-wind with acute shortages of workers needed to fulfil housing needs.

The French girl in Brisbane could not contain her love for Bernard and decided to visit him in Sydney (without her pony tail). My friend took the day off and at the end it was all over. It had run its course. She went back to husband and presumably grew a new ponytail.

Who knows?