Cruising along on the wrong side of the road is getting easier in Melbourne, but it hasn’t come without a few minor infringements. Together Will and I have racked up $900 in fines in a few short months (OK…so Will is only responsible for $150 of that). The Aussies may speak English, but their parking signs look like a foreign language. Deciphering them is half the battle.
Inability to read signs resulted in two parking tickets at $150 a pop. How a person with a clean driving history in Minnesota can rack up $600 in speeding tickets in 6 months is mind blowing. Even with using my car’s speed limiter, refraining from eating, talking and texting while driving, I still fail. I’d like to detest these fines purely because of the insanely slow speed limits (40 km/hour = 25 miles/hour), or because a 60 km/hour zone magically switches to 40 km/hour at certain times of the day. My first and second tickets were for exceeding the 40 km/hour limit in the zone that is 60 km/hour all but a few hours of the day. I have never been pulled over, but speed cameras catch me every time. I am now afraid of driving and scared to get the mail for fear of what might be waiting.
We are allowed 12 demerit points every three years, and each speeding infringement costs 1 point. Once you hit zero, your license is taken away. I’m not off to a very good start. Will is still adamant that I need to tattoo “Smarten Up” on my arm.
Knock on wood (or touch wood as they say here), we haven’t had any accidents yet. Given the skinny streets and congested traffic, that is an accomplishment. Last week was my closest call when a ladder fell off a tradey’s (construction worker’s) ute (truck) in front of me on the freeway. It was early morning and dark. I swerved and all but missed it. My rims are scratched up and a bit of yellow paint scraped off the ladder and to the underside of my car.
As if driving alone wasn’t already a giant challenge for me, I also have to park in a car elevator. I almost had a heart attack the first time I saw this. It took me about ten minutes on my first go, but now I’m down to almost 30 seconds! My neighbour often comments on my crappy parking job. I feel victorious every time I make it in there without damaging something. It takes 35 seconds to raise and lower the lift, and it’s a bonus if it’s in the down position when I get there.
Minor infringements have come at a cost. It also took six months for us to be approved for an Australian credit card. It didn’t matter that we had worked for decades in the U.S., they needed earnings history specifically in Australia. They also accused Will of lying on his application by including sales commission on top of base salary. We’re finally approved and free to spend money on all of the ridiculously expensive things in this city, like $120 tickets to see LCD Soundsystem in the cheap seats.
Speaking of music, yesterday I turned on Pandora to rock out to some LCD before the show and they announced that they will discontinue serving Australia as of July 31. It’s not like the internet here really supports streaming music, but what a bummer! Back to playing iTunes library, or get with the program and join Spotify I guess.
Oh the joys of settling in. This has been a sweet place to live, but it’s not all roses and rainbows. Winter is winter, wherever you are. Days are short and people hibernate. Sometimes you run over ladders and drive too fast. When it comes down to it in the grand scheme of life, I think my toilet paper says it best…
With that my friends, I wish you all well and send love from Melbourne. And as LCD Soundsystem reminded me last night, “Just laugh it off. It’s better than it seems.” (If you like music, the Muppets, and want to put a smile on your face, click here: Dance Yrself Clean.)