“Communication Problems” (a la Fawlty Towers) 2 April 2007

Patricia and I just returned from a very relaxing 2 days on a South Seas Island :), which I will tell you about in my next post, but first, two trip-related funny stories:

When I made the booking for the boat ride to our island campsite in the Great Barrier Reef by telephone from DC, I thought the company’s name was Harversford Boat Hire (as in “hah’vuhsfud” – can you see the grin on my face?). When we got to Anwar’s house in Airlie Beach (actually, he is in Jubilee Pocket – cool name, eh?), we thought we had left their number behind in Melbourne with our other stuff, so we looked them up in the phone book, but could find nothing – very strange. So we called the Queensland National Park Service again to get their number – no problem. I called Harversford and confirmed the booking, and what time we needed to be there on Sunday – they assured us there were only 3 concessions at Shute Harbor – the main ferry company between Hamilton Island where the airport is, the cafe, and them – just look for the yellow umbrellas. (to be continued…)

Anwar was still in Melbourne, and we had an ‘Esky’ (cooler) of food to carry in addition to our backpacks, so he suggested we call a cab to get back to the Harbor (15 minute ride); he said there was a cabbie in his complex, but he didn’t know how to reach him. So Patricia called the state-wide cab company to hire a cab to pick us up at 9am. A bit later in the evening, I saw the cabbie who lives in his complex come home right across the drive, and wondered about asking him, but decided ‘Ah well, Patricia has already made the booking.’ Next morning, as I am packing and getting stuff off the balcony, I saw the neighborhood cabbie leave. Meanwhile, no cab showed up at 9am, so Patricia called them again to confirm and gave them the details again, and she was told ‘oh, making a booking for 9 means the cab will leave here at 9’ – what???? (We thought, these Aussies cab companies have a strange way of doing business!) At about 9:10 I was upstairs again, and looked down and saw the neighborhood cabbie come back and chat for a minute with his wife. Anyway, no cab at 9:15, so Patricia says ‘you call – I am too irritated.’ So I called again, gave the details YET again, and was told the cab was “2k out on approach” – now that should take about 2 minutes, right? When no cab had arrived by 9:30 (did he stop for tea? was he PUSHING his car??), I called again, complained and was unexpectedly transferred to a supervisor and told her our story AGAIN. She asked if I was given the car number in my last call, which I wasn’t. She checks, and says the car is on its way, and should be here momentarily, so I asked her what car number, and she says ’44’ (‘I thought, Car 44 where are you??’), just as it arrived – the guy who lives in this complex!! Turns out he had been given the name of another complex about 10 minutes away, two times!, and had gone there both time to find no one there – it wasn’t until the 3rd time that they got it right!

So anyway, when we arrived at Shute Harbor, we headed for the yellow umbrellas and found… Harbor Side Boat Hire! Remember that old telephone game? – it really does happen that way.