Reserved a seat yesterday on the 9:15 am Murray’s bus to Canberra. After missing last night’s bus, a quick night at the Rydges Sydney Airport was welcomed after roughly 30 hours of flight. Granted when I arrived to Sydney International, I was tired, hungry, and rushing to deplane, clear customs, grab baggage, and get on the bus to Canberra. The quiet voice reminded me that trying to shove 15 pounds of activity into a 45 minute sack, was damn-near unrealistic to expect. But, I did put forth a valiant effort.
Unfortunately, the universe wouldn’t allow for it, and the voice of reason was right again. First, the e-passport machine didn’t like me–it was probably the cave man look–and rejected my attempts to pass through, three times. When I was redirected to an actual human, the partially filled customs form was rejected for missing a flight number. In my compressed timeline narrow field of vision, I jotted down a Bahrain phone number in the “vessel number” section, was rejected and quickly pulled aside by a second Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) agent. The professional, yet judgmental looking agent questioned what visa I had applied for. “I thought it was a tourist visa.”
At this point, I must have looked shady as shit. Thinking back, the anxious and hurried behavior I most likely displayed must have been a rational explanation for his body language. Apparently I had put the wrong date of birth on my visa application and when they discovered it didn’t match my immigration card, nor passport, it raised a flag. He quickly passed me over to another agent who had to take my passport to a back room to confirm my DOB and told me to stay put, in the purgatory between post immigration and pre-baggage. Thank Jebus I didn’t get brought back there too…
For what was roughly five minutes, I paced to and fro, checking the time… 9:00…9:01…9:02… knowing my window to Murray’s was quickly closing. Eventually the agent returned confirming prior visas and activity in the country. Of course, only two years prior I was visiting the same lines, just with a diplomatic passport. She quickly cleared me and I was off on a mad dash to “baggage reclaim #6.” Ironically, it wasn’t the short intermission with DIBP that caused me to miss the bus, but rather the 200 weary fellow meat puppets also trying to grab their luggage, at the same fucking magic orifice, with little regard for others.
Thoughts going through my head: “You are probably the only person in the world at this very moment who needs their shit so they can go grab a smoke, right?” and “Do you really expect that as soon as your bag drops you will beat out how fast both the belt turns AND everyone else who is trying to grab their shit around you?!”
Alas, my bag dropped and I had to accept that 9:36 p.m. was probably a bit out of the realm of possibility to catch a 9:15 p.m. bus. Customs let me go without a hitch and thank fuck a hotel (Rydges) was directly across the street. Even more of a miracle was the management decided to free up and sell me their last room. After a quick shower, I made my way to the bar for a well deserved Bundy and Coke and a few smokes; the world was right again.
Jumping back a few paces here. It’s worth acknowledging a passing moment of clarity during the aforementioned moment of panic.
This wasn’t my first time in Australia, but it was my first time without anyone backing me. Now I was a vagabond with no income stream, permanent residence, nor any government backing. Coming back to Australia post-Navy was strategically picked to allow for the least negative mental health impact, which is quite similar to leaving left-overs in the fridge which you come home to after a long night of drinking. Thank-you sober self!
Parting note: This is my first ever blog post. I grew tired of editing and decided to just call it a day. Not my best work, but hey, it can only get better from here, right?