Being escorted to the toilet by Police.
Yes folks. That really happened.
Last week in fact.
I was escorted to the toilet by Police at Brisbane Airport while awaiting our return trip to Melbourne.
Barely an hour after we’d landed and were denied entry to our home state.
Little more than twelve hours after we were approved for entry.
Displaced Queenslanders they call us.
But that’s not really accurate for Superman and I.
We’re actually supposed to be living in Auckland, New Zealand right now.
How did I come to being escorted to the toilet by Police?
In the presence of the Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble, Superman accepted a great opportunity and promotion to become General Manager of Bodycare New Zealand. We are adventurers at heart and couldn’t believe our good fortune; I’d personally written off our much loved travel to other countries for at least the next five years.
On July 4th, we gave our realtor the month’s notice we were required to give and started interviewing international freight companies. I trucked fifteen of my most special plants to Brisbane. Lovingly bestowed into the care of my Mother-in-law. The rest now enhance the new home of one of Superman’s colleagues and one of our neighbours.
Gifting my precious plants to loving homes in time to move has been one of my greatest and heartwarming coups.
A few going away parties and drinks later, we’d booked an Airbnb down the road for the four nights between leaving our home of five years (August 1st) and flying to Brisbane to visit family (August 5th), before crossing the ditch to our new home (August 16th). The removalists came, wrapped everything in bubble wrap, loaded it in a shipping container and drove away.
We don’t blame The Kiwis for suspending the Travel Bubble (July 22).
With the situation in NSW turning from bad to worse and Covid cases in every Australian state and territory except ACT, WA and TAS, we must have indeed looked like a plagued mob from Covid-free Aotearoa. But the bubble suspension threw a bit of a spanner in the works for us.
I didn’t realise just how big a spanner until later.
Okay we thought.
So we can’t get to New Zealand right now.
Well, how about we get to family in Queensland and wait it out and book our flight to Auckland after the suspension ends?
That sounds like a feasible Plan B doesn’t it?
Queensland went into Lockdown.
Then we did, here in Victoria.
This may sound like a hopeless situation to you now, in hindsight.
But at the time it wasn’t.
History told us that Queensland had a habit of going hard and fast and that tended to be effective – which it was in this instance too.
And here in Melbourne, well hell!
We’d so much Lockdown experience by this stage that we felt well justified in thinking we’d be out and about within a week or two. Justified too, in looking down our noses at the idealistic, ineffective debacle unfolding in NSW.
‘Why don’t they just do the right thing?’ Gladys and her Health Minister would moan.
Because modern, Western humans are a pretty fearful and let’s face it, self serving lot Gladys!
As I write this, NSW has long ago (long in Covid time) given up it’s attempt at suppressing Delta and is punching over a thousand cases a day – the largest daily numbers in Australia since the pandemic began.
As of two days ago, Victoria has given up the notion of Zero Covid too.
Time to put all our eggs in the vaccination basket it seems?
At least we’ll be heading in the direction of our international peers attending Wimbledon and music festivals.
Don’t ask your average Melbournian how they feel about this acquiescence either.
Lest you wish to enter discussion about how it feels to have a year’s worth of hardship, working from home, home-schooling, job loss and tough lessons learned – all basically flushed down the toilet.
This is some folks’ view, but not mine.
It’s a sure recipe for depression; berating ourselves for what we know now, but didn’t know then.
How could we have done anything other than what we did, with the information we had at the time?
Flushed down the toilet… that reminds me.
Being escorted to the toilet by Police is how we started this tale wasn’t it?
So let’s skip through weeks of stress, uncertainty squared, gradually extending our four-day Airbnb stay to twenty-seven in the end; not knowing if that was too much, but feeling too insecure about not having shelter to book any less.
Skip through hours on the phone to the Queensland government; plotting our Plan C and D by car through South Australia and The Northern Territory.
Waltz on through the phone calls to New Zealand’s Managed Quarantine (MIQ) who dropped the bomb (August 19) that absolutely no flights are taking off from Australia and landing in New Zealand, despite the airlines still selling tickets for them!
Government talks about when this might change are set for late September, but who knows?
And who believes those jokers anymore?
I won’t go into the battles with Airbnb to get our money back for the time we’d paid in advance to feel secure about our shelter, but wouldn’t be using because we’d be ensconced in QLD hotel Quarantine at the time. Four walls and a couple of basic meals a day for two, all for the bargain price of $4500.
I will mention here that I sincerely recommend vulnerably communicating your situation to your Airbnb hosts. Turns out there are humans out there on the other end of the keyboard or at the call centre. We were lucky enough to encounter a couple – eventually – and got our money back.
And let me also tell you this…
I talk about entering QLD hotel quarantine as the preferred option at this point.
Can you fucking believe that?!
THIS is the fascinating situation we find ourselves in, where being locked inside a hotel room for two weeks is the goal.
So Sunday August 22 rolls around and we apply for our third QLD Border Entry Pass in eight months.
They respond within 24hrs saying we haven’t provided enough information, despite not being asked for it.
So within three hours we comply with the new requests and get a couple of Statutory Declarations printed, signed and sent with yet another QLD Border Entry Application.
So much for Superman’s birthday celebrations!
Thankfully we chose to celebrate when his Providoor goodie box from Peruvian restaurant Pastuso arrived the day before. Goes to show we must follow our feelings, live life and celebrate when it feels best, not according to the rules.
So our Entry Permit is, after a nervous wait, approved. Yay! (Tuesday August 24)
And then it’s voided. (Wednesday August 25, 11.10am)
I was on the way home in an Uber to collect Superman and go to the airport, after dropping our car at the car transport company when I received the text. A text unceremoniously stating that we have until midday – it’s now 11.10am remember – to enter QLD, or we can’t. Hotel quarantine is being suspended until September 8th.
In a sure amount of shock and with a characteristic amount of hope in the fundamental goodness of human beings, we head to Tullamarine, board our plane for Brisbane – despite Virgin Australia’s official announcements about the new entry requirements. New, as in two and a half hours old!
Only to be put on the next plane back to Melbourne.
There was absolutely no consideration of our situation; no home, no car, no stuff, no family, no support.
There was empathy for our situation from the Police and Virgin Australia staff.
Afterall, we’d all been given about the same amount of notice that day about how our afternoons would turn out.
Noone agreed with the rigid and uncaring stance the QLD government had taken with fifty minutes notice, but that didn’t change the outcome for us.
We were corralled in a roped off section of Brisbane Airport, not 500m from where we exited the plane; bizarrely right next to unmasked dining patrons of an airport restaurant and bar. And when I needed to pee, I had to be escorted, like a criminal or flight risk, to the toilet by Police. What a novelty!
As was being herded back onto a full airplane of passengers!
Weren’t we Covid-riddled Victorians set for hotel quarantine 30 minutes ago?
And now we sit, shoulder to shoulder, on a full plane amongst other passengers.
Proof we didn’t actually need by this stage, that Covid in this fractured country of ours, is very much a political football, not something our valiant leaders are trying to protect us from.
We felt dejected.
And very hopeful the code of the key lockbox in the street near the Airbnb we’d left that day would be the same on our return, so we’d have somewhere to sleep. You see we would land in Melbourne after the 9pm curfew, so you can’t check into a hotel and you can’t get any food. Not even at the highway petrol stations the cab driver tried.
Everything was closed.
But we got the keys.
We had somewhere to sleep.
And we even had a tin of Spanish anchovies in our luggage, left over from David’s birthday celebrations.
So we had dinner.
And at least Superman and I get to reminisce about the time we flew to Brisbane and back in an afternoon!
But this experience has brought up so many challenges to our normally sunny attitude and well let’s face it, it has challenged our basic needs of shelter and food.
A position I never imagined I’d ever be in.
But all is not lost.
We aren’t really displaced – not when you turn on the tv and see women and children squatting in the dirt by the tarmac at the airport in Kabul.
But everything is relative isn’t it?
And boy have I enjoyed walking my talk!
The Life Coaching and effective living skills and resources I share with my clients have kept my spirits elevated, have kept my relationship harmonious, have kept me from crumbling in the corner of the room in foetal position!
And over the next few weeks, I will be sharing them all with you here.
Because they bloody work!
Believe me – I’ve tested them out.
So I invite you to tune in and take what you need or even just what you find curious and apply them to your life.
Your Life Changing Coach
GENERATIVE CHANGE is change that builds upon itself.
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