Saturday, 6 September 2008

Shopping in Chatswoo

"Chatswoo"? you say? Chatswoo? Where is Chatswoo?

Chatswoo is how one of my Hong Kong born Chinese staff used to describe Chatswood, and he lived there himself. The "woo" refers to the idea that it has become Sydney's 2nd Chinatown.

I had an argument with a ticket machine in a carpark today. I drove up to the boomgate and pressed the button to get a ticket, which the machine duly spat out. However, the gate refused to rise after I removed the ticket. I waited a few seconds, then figuring that the ticket was a dud, I asked the machine nicely for another one (by pressing the button marked "ticket"). Some fool programmer had built some smarts into the system whereby the machine refused to issue another ticket because my car had not moved, and it had not moved because the boom gate had refused to budge.

A catch-22 situation.

I pressed the "help" button, which was not much good. I was jammed in tight, with cars behind me, and thankfully they were all too polite to start honking and beeping and swearing. Eventually, a security guard of some sort wandered over to see what the problem was.

Just as he started talking, so did a voice from the speaker on the ticket machine. And both were in fractured Chinglish. It would have been alright if I only had to listen to one of them, since I am pretty good at understanding accents*, but there was no way in hell that I could follow both of them at once. The guy on the speaker could see me via a security camera, and he could see his fellow security guard standing at my car window, and he could even hear the other guard talking - but that didn't stop him from yabbering away.

The bloke standing at my window was telling me to drive in and park on the left so that I could get a ticket from some machine, whilst at the same time I was telling the bloke on the speaker that I had a ticket (which I was waving around) but the boom gate would not open.

That message finally got through, so the bloke on the speaker pressed something and the gate went up. But the guard at my window kept on insisting that I go somewhere that I didn't need to go. I eventually got him out of the way by pointing at the now raised gate, and he stepped aside.

Of course as soon as my bonnet had passed under the boom, than it came crashing down into my windscreen. Thankfully, it was made of flimsy plastic, and it just bounced back up again. But it was one of those moments when you know dozens of people are looking at you and thinking, "What's up with this idiot?" I hate that.

To round out a great day, when I went to leave, the machine refused to acknowledge by ticket, and I had to explain the entire story again.

Next time, I'm taking the train.

* At uni, we had a Dutch lecturer. Of the 50 or so people in his lecture, I was the only one who could understand him. I had to hand over my notes at the end of every lecture for 49 photocopies to be made.

Chaos ensued when I failed to make it to a lecture once (hangover was the cause). From that point on, I had 49 people very interested in making sure I made it to that Economic History lecture. It has the only unit where I did really well, thanks to their interest in making sure I got out of bed.

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