The Tyranny of Distance

Great title hey? I wish I could claim it as my own but credit where credit is due, it’s the title of a famous Australian history book by the famous Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey.  I’m sure Geoff won’t mind if I borrow it as it describes perfectly, how oppressively horrible long distance travel can be.

Don’t get me wrong, I love travel, just not the getting there part, and to quote another not so famous Australian, (my friend Laura), “it sucks balls”!  Thankfully it’s a bit like childbirth (so I’m told), you eventually forget how truly painful it is, otherwise you would never do it again. Take my recent 25 hour ordeal from Melbourne to Barcelona for example.  I had been mentally preparing myself for the impending horror by trying to be all Buddhisty zen about it and telling myself to just go with the flow and accept the shit that was inevitably going to happen.  As I always do when I’m checking I casually ask, “So I was wondering, is there any chance of getting an upgrade?”.  Don’t laugh, it actually worked for me once flying back from Stockholm to Melbourne, and I was as shocked as anyone when the vacant eyed automaton on check-in said ok.  It was like standing before Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates and unexpectedly being let in to heaven when you were sure you were going to hell.  So I step up to the  Qatar Airways check-in counter as pleasant and non pushy as I could be, and ask, “So I was wondering, is there any chance of getting an upgrade?”  The pretty, young woman with a genuinely pleasant and helpful manner said, “Oh I’ll just check availability in business class”.  My heart skipped a beat, could this really be working again, was I really going to be plucked from the pit of hell that is cattle class?  “Yes there are a few business class seats available” she informed me, (oh be still my beating heart!), “We are offering them as an upgrade of between $1200 – $1500 dollars, would you like me to check the exact price for you?”  I wanted to say, “damn you bitch for getting my hopes up” but instead I said, “Oh, no thank you, that’s ok”, and I wandered off to sit in purgatory AKA the departure lounge.

I had about 3 hours to wait in purgatory so I stopped off at Bar Pulpo, an off shoot of  well known Movida, a trendy up market tapas restaurant in Melbourne that is generally well review.  What the hell, I was going to Spain, I may as well get into the swing of things now with some Spanish food.  Everyone expects airport food to be expensive, but $21 for a jaffle and a beer?!  Further to my dismay the only vaguely Spanishy thing on the menu was that they call it a jambon and cheese jaffle.  You can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig, and you can call it a jambon and cheese jaffle but it’s still just a ham and cheese jaffle, made in the same Kambrook jaffle iron my mum has at home!  Maybe if I acutally was a Buddhist it would help not to get so annoyed at these first world problems. Unfortunately when you’re in purgatory or the departure lounge you can’t do much about it but accept it and wait your turn until you’re called to move to the next stage.  So I sat there and ate my expensive jambon and cheese jaffle and tried to remind myself just go with the flow because it will be worth it in the end.

1 thought on “The Tyranny of Distance

  1. We have all been there too. So we can sense empathy. You had it more lucky than I in Canton, for the specialist coffee waitress was making coffee by the two litre cannister, so I expressed a wish to buy the freshly brewed/filtered. Nix! I must have the first of six, which by my calculation must be going on for an hour old. “Barrister”, the name not yet coined. I chose a beer.
    I wish you better luck on dryland Spain. Maybe you should take a look at Alhambra and its history. Take my eyes with you around Barcelona J


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