Lesson 2 of living in Australia… Courtesy is dead.
How hard is it to say thank you when someone lets you pull out in your car, or holds open a door for you? Today, I was in the supermarket with my daughter in her pushchair. We stepped aside to let a lady pass by – I awaited the customary “Thank you”, but nothing came… Obviously in my slightly irritated frame I abruptly retorted with a sarcastic “You’re welcome” too which the surrounding customers promptly turned around and stared at me, as if I was the weird one in the one sided exchange of courtesy. When did it start costing something to smile or be polite to one another?
Don’t get me wrong – my rantings make it appear as though I am uncontrollably miserable. I am not. Far from it in fact – I don’t think I have ever been happier! My love and adoration for my current position in life far exceeds these minor irritations that appear on my path through life. This is not the first time I have lived in Perth (Yes, for those of you who may be reading this – I relocated from Wales to Perth in WA… Quite a contrast). I lived here for a year after my wife and I married. I hated it… Well that’s not entirely true. The first 6 months were a challenge. My wife was working 70 hours a week, and I was unable to find employment, and so I would sit in our beautiful apartment overlooking the Indian Ocean, counting down the hours until the love of my life returned so that we could spend precious hours together. Eventually though, I found a job, met some lifelong friends, and began to understand how special this small corner of the world is…I took it for granted. It wasn’t until our year was up and we had returned to the UK that we both began to yearn for the lifestyle we had become accustomed to.
And so, 3 years after leaving paradise, we returned with a daughter in tow… And it hasn’t disappointed. They say that everywhere has its faults. It’s all about finding the place in the world whose faults bother you least… and for us, that is Perth. The clear blue sky and crisp morning air puts a smile on your face as you drive to work at what I would have once defined as a painfully slow speed limit (I may have got a few speeding tickets in my first week here…) The sunset over the ocean and evening cup of tea on our balcony relaxes the mind as the soothing smells of the salty sea air drift into our apartment. I am indeed a very lucky man. To be able to live in such close proximity to the ocean in one of the most desirable locations Australia has to offer (Cottesloe, if you were wondering) is beyond anything I could have imagined. It has its moments, obviously… living in an apartment with a child experiencing their Terrible Two stage is never an ideal situation, however what makes up for it is the people around us. Sure, they can have a somewhat discourteous manner, (especially when driving) but behind those hardened exteriors are people whose doors are always open, ears are always listening, and whose time is always available. There are, as always, exceptions, though to the greater extent, and Australian friend will go to the ends of the earth to help out… So long as it doesn’t require holding open a door or saying thanks when you let them pull out.