Not Walking like a “Sydneysider”

In The Art of Travel Fall 2015, Sydney, Misadventure by Christina BuruLeave a Comment

Although due to technology getting lost is a thing of the past, being on time is an art I have yet to conquer. For our classes (and I’m sure many other global sites have a similar policy) if you are not present in the first five minutes you are marked absent. Once the attendance is submitted the professor can’t change it, and you have to go speak to someone else to see what you can do (because its 2% off your grade every time you’re “absent” which doesn’t seem like much but can add up if you do so habitually). Because of this (and the fact they don’t jaywalk here so it takes longer than google maps says it does to get to Science House) I give a 15 minute buffer when leaving for class. This effort has made me successfully not be “absent”. But, this is when class starts at its normal time.

A few weeks ago we had our second field trip for my Environmental Journalism class. The field trip involved arriving at Circular Quay (where all the ferries leave from) 30 minutes before actual class time (it is also 10 minutes farther than the building we have class in). This shouldn’t have been an issue, we were forewarned repeatedly. The morning of I was feeling particularly lazy and decided I would just take the train to the meeting point (it would be faster). I waltzed over to the train station, only to discover a lack of funds on my OPAL card. As I luck would have it, today was the day my credit card decided to give me grief and I was currently cashless, the result of this being I now had to walk 40 minutes away with 25 minutes to do so.

Now I’ve said this again and again but one of the most frustrating things while walking anywhere here is the fact that everyone waits for the light even if there are no cars in sight (and when you don’t you might be unlucky enough to be seen by a cop and then ticketed). I understand that this is a normal phenomenon pretty much everywhere but New York, but what can I say, that’s how I got used to walking. Another extremely annoying phenomenon (which needs to be understood to fully comprehend my struggle of that morning) is that nationally people in Australia do walk on the left, but for some reason in Sydney that doesn’t happen. What does happen? EVERYONE WALKS EVERYWHERE, down the middle, on both sides, there are hordes of people walking toward you and you don’t know which way to avoid them because there is no “normal” or “proper” way followed here.

Ok now that you heard my rant, back to my dilemma. It was hot, I had jeans on and flip-flops and a heavy backpack with an abnormally large laptop, so it wasn’t ideal conditions to run (having said that I don’t really run even if the conditions are “perfect”, nope, not my thing). I had to make up for the time somehow though, because in this case, if I was late I would miss the whole field trip (because we were getting on a ferry).

As I was walking and saw the sign turn to green for pedestrians I would run (battling the chaos of people headed to work), in order to make it across the street (because a lot of the time from the distance I was if I walked I would have to watch it go from green to flashing, eventually turning back to red right as I reached the intersection). I kept checking the time and the little blue dot on the map that showed me just how screwed I was.  As I approached the dock I could see the whole class collectively waiting. Breathless I grabbed my ferry pass and within 30 seconds of my arrival, we had to board the ferry, perfect timing.  There are so many lessons I could take from this incident, but the principle one is that people certainly waste a lot of precious time waiting for the little man on the light post to turn green.

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