Monday, 28 December 2009

Festive bitching, other cultures, free shit and disableds.

New Years Eve, 2009, and I am standing in a taxi queue just after midnight. A few of us had walked down to the lake front to watch the fireworks after being at a house party for a bit. Although I wasn't too fussed about the fireworks, I have voiced my opinion on them previously, the atmosphere itself was buzzing. The front was full of revellers having a good time, we all wished each other a happy new year at midnight, however my lady wasn't feeling too good so being ever the gentleman I took her home.

The taxi queue was long, about 45 minutes long, but you know what? I'm British. Therefore I am genetically predisposed to love queuing so I was completely in my element. I had had a good night, I was on my way home, and I was already in my first queue of 2010. What more could a Brit want out of life?

Then my moment was spoilt. Someone tried to edge into the queue in front of me with utmost stealth. Two people in fact. To the untrained eye maybe it wasn't even noticeable, but God-damn it, I know how to queue, they weren't getting ahead of me in a million years, so they squeezed in behind us jumping approximately half the queue in the process. Nothing was said by anyone. Presumably because one of them was in a wheelchair.

I like to think I am very tolerant of others. I will not judge you based on the way you look, your gender, the way you dress, the colour of your skin, your sexual preference, your disability, we are still all human after all. But is it wrong of me to get angry at a disabled for trying to jump the queue presumably just because she is disabled? I don't think so. If anything I think people should have been able to jump in front of her, I mean after all we are all having to stand and wait while she has a nice comfy seat.

So 2010 is here already, and I have been gainfully employed now for just over two months, and it is largely going great. I say largely, obviously taking advantage of the free stuff I get thrown at me helps immensely. Since my last entry I have been busy reaping the rewards of a job that allows you free stuff.

I spent one morning kayaking across Lake Wakatipu to Pigeon Island in a sea kayak, a two person kayak with a rudder at the back operated by the person sitting in the rear seat. It's a company run by a pleasant dread locked hippy, and includes a guided tour and commentary around Pigeon Island, situated funnily enough in the middle of the lake. As you would expect, the island is a large land mass with trees, bushes, birds and insects, surrounded by water. But it's a nice serene setting, with a hut which is free to stay in as long as you can get over there, and is very reminiscent of the Evil Dead. Once you have toured around the Island, you paddle around the side of it before heading back to main land. The morning was marred only by the sour faced Scandinavian "girl" steering the kayak I was in. On the way back she pointed out that it wouldn't matter how hard I paddled to try and make us change direction, the way we were going was completely controlled by her. "So how about you steer us in the same direction as the rest of the fucking group then you dumb bitch", I imagined myself saying before imagining my paddle accidentally scalping her.

I have done my first bungy jump, the Nevis. A cabin suspended by cables 134m in the air which you obviously jump off attached to a long piece of elastic made of multiple strands of that white round elastic you used to get in those black plimsolls you wore at school. There's something they don't advertise. Plummeting towards the ground for 8ish seconds was a bizarre feeling. People have previously said that the scariest part is jumping off. That's crap, absolute crap. Jumping is easy. I jump down the last 3 stairs at home all the time. Toddlers can jump, animals can jump, disableds can jump (granted, just queues but it's still jumping). No, the scariest part is the few seconds after you have jumped, when all you can do is question whether jumping was a sensible thing to do.

On the same day I did the Nevis Arc, the worlds highest swing, in tandem with one of the girls I work with. You are loaded into the swing and dropped, free fall for a while and then get kicked into a swing across towards the canyon wall at around 150kph. In all honesty I found this scarier than the bungy, purely because the control is passed onto someone else so even though I knew the fall was coming, I still screamed a VERY masculine scream (the girly ones belonged to my tandem partner) when we were released.

The Canyon Swing is a similar experience, the main differences being that when you drop you can go a variety of different ways, you drop down the side of a rocky canyon wall, and the crew mess with your head in a big way. Generally asking if you are ready to die, that kind of humorous thing. Questions such as "How many times have you done this?" are met with a response like "This?? Never, it's way too dangerous. I know when the ropes were last changed". I went off on the chair, you are strapped into a plastic chair and told to rock back onto the rear two legs. As you dangle precariously over the edge, the crew mess even further by slowly releasing you only to pull you back up at the last minute a number of times. Eventually, exasperated, you cry "For Christ's sake, will you just get on wissssshhhhhhhhiiiiiiiitttttt".

Finally, I eventually got on a sky dive. 15,000ft, 60 seconds of free fall, a very concerned look on my face as they strap me to a chick about half my size. No offence, she was awesome. Knew what she was doing, had thousands of jumps under her belt, I appreciate her keeping me alive. But it could very well have been a different story if it was her week. While everyone else on the DVD looked like they were having a great time, I was masking my joy with the face of a man unable to work out how to get air into my lungs. Make no mistake, I loved it, and would do it again at the drop of a hat. I just look like I am concentrating really hard on something, and I am going to assume it was either the amazing views of the Remarkables, or just keeping my mouth from making some "jokey" sexist remark that would get me all kinds of dropped out of the sky without a parachute.

I can't say it's all been fun and laughter though. My job involves dealing with people. And people are generally idiots. Sure, there are some great people you meet, and it's kind of heartwarming when someone stops by to say thanks. I've done nothing but facilitate their trip/experience by taking money off them and reserving them a place, the experience or trip is made by the operators, the crew that take them out there, the experience itself, so they have no need to come and thank me, but some do. And it's nice. But the idiots far outweigh the genuinely nice people.
I've had a couple moaning a little that their trip to Milford Sound was boring. "Boring?" I asked. It's some of the most spectacular, testicle numbing scenery you will see, how was it boring?
"It was 5 hours on a coach". I would have liked to have pointed out to her that the boredom was most likely instigated and perpetuated by her travelling companion, who looked like he could turn the most orgasmic experience into a dull, trudging funeral march.

And other cultures who are used to bartering. Obviously being from the U.K. we aren't so into haggling when we make a purchase, but I believe that to get a discount on something you are buying, you at least need to offer something in exchange. Maybe that you are working for a similar company and can promote whatever it is you are buying, or at the least produce some kind of coupon. Every day I wake up wishing I was in the position to offer discounts if people dance for me. Not just a little jig, a proper dance for two straight hours. And they also have to provide me with sharp objects to throw at them, and snacks too, I'll need snacks to keep my throwing arm nice and strong. No sir, you can't get a group discount for booking two people instead of one. A second person barely counts as having company for the day, it certainly will not get you a group discount.

Finally, before I put this entry out of its misery, Christmas came and went. My Christmas was great, thanks for asking. There was a house party at my house, at which I sank about half a litre of Jim Beam in a relatively short period, and another house party later in the evening which I don't remember much of due to the Jim Beam from the first party.
It didn't feel like Christmas largely due to the weather, and it being light late. I associate Christmas with cold, crisp winter evenings, darkness, and the bustle of people late night shopping in towns adorned with festive decorations. Queenstown was bare. The only festiveness available was at Starbucks, where they were using cups with a Christmas design, and playing Christmas music halfway through November. I know I should avoid Starbucks, the amount of coffee I drink on a daily basis can't be good for my guts anyway, but coffee and festive happiness at least half a month before December I can't deal with in any kind of sane manner.
We had festive adverts though. Almost 2010, and the must-haves for this Christmas in New Zealand were Enya's Greatest Hits (honestly - I didn't realise she had more than one song), and Soda Stream. Honest to God. Well into the 21st century, and it seems New Zealand is only just getting busy with the fizzy.

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