So finally, I was in Australia. After making it through customs and only almost losing my passport once, I was ready to hitch a ride and go to the house I would be staying at. I was even planning on staying with my friend from Richmond who was also studying abroad in Melbourne. Now I just had to meet him, his flight from Japan would be landing within the half hour and he had already made free airport pickup reservations…for himself and I was going to try to mooch off of him. I looked up at the digitized schedule board which, fun fact, are apparently known as Solari boards (named after the display manufacturer) for an incoming flight from Japan. And of course, with my luck, out of over 20 options I couldn’t see one flight from Japan. I sat down and waited for the options to roll over, it was still early. That lasted about five minutes. I then made a much better decision to go ask where I could find an incoming flight from Japan. I walked up to the information booth patting myself on the back for my sure stroke of…rationality.
Me: “Hello? Hey, I was just wondering when the next flight from Japan was”
Information Assistant: “Oh of course, one second please”
Computer: “Beep-beep. Beep”
Information Assistant: “there aren’t any”
What was I going to do? We hadn’t exchanged flight information, nor did we have phones to call one another on. I couldn’t live in the airport! The food is overpriced and any purchase would just be economically unsound. I immediately ceased my back-patting, feeling my back no longer deserved the reward of a job well done. I was doomed.
Information Assistant: “Is it possible that it’s a domestic flight?”
Polite-Me: “No, I don’t think so. He’s flying from Japan.
Information Assistant: “To Melbourne?”
Just-Had-An-Epiphany Me: “No I’m pretty sure he’s flying to Sydney first and then to… oh…wow”
Smiling Information Assistant: “Domestic is just that way.”
Determined Me: “Thank you!”
Information Assistant: “No-”
I was already gone. It was at this point that I finally understood what people did before technology. Panicked and Ran. I quickly made my way to domestic arrivals and looked at the arrivals screen for flights from Sydney. There were about five. I decided to casually pace back and forth between the luggage conveyor belts and just smile at people, all while waiting for the next flight to arrive 20 minutes later. In hindsight, if there was ever a man who looked as if he was going to be reported for suspicious activity in an airport, this would definitely be that guy. Time was passing with no signs of my friend. Then I saw her, the woman with the highlighter yellow and lime green sign around her neck that said overseas students. I ran to her…and stood awkwardly next to her until she said something.
Driver: “Hello! Are you an international student?
Driver: “are you attending the University of Melbourne?”
Driver: “Ok great! What’s your name?”
Ok so I hadn’t really thought this completely through. I looked at her checklist out of the side of my eye and knew I wasn’t on there. On the other hand, I knew someone who was. Still, I couldn’t just take his reservation and strand him. Plus, there was no way she’d believe that both my passport and driver’s license conveniently had typos and they just got my name wrong.
Driver: “…Ok great! Grab your things and come with me”
Or maybe she’d just take my word for it. But I couldn’t, with good conscience, leave my friend (and housemate) without a ride. Especially since he booked it himself and I was taking it.
Me: “Wait, he’s my friend. I’m just meeting him here. We’re going to the same place so I was hoping I could just get a ride as well?”
Long story short, honesty is the best policy. We found Shohsei who had missed his Sydney to Melbourne flight because of customs and I was able to get a ride with the shuttle service. Unfortunately, the shuttle service was only free around the city, which our home was 30 minutes away from, and we both had to end up paying. Still, it wasn’t as much as a taxi and we were finally at this place that we would soon learn to call home…and people we would soon call by their first names because calling them mom and dad would just be awkward. Oh right, did I mention we were doing a home stay?