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Monday, 15 January 2007

Taking the 5th: Stolen Cars, Broken Hearts, and a Super Dooper Dumbo

Taking the Fifth: Imagine being in a strange place it's now night fall, you know no one, and you're looking at the vacant space where your car was.

Those that know Bagel well will know that my daughter Amber has just recently had some serious Heart Surgery.

Last weekend We had to take a long trip back to Sydney for a post operative 4 week check up.

Imagine parking your car on the Arid Street Parking Level 5 as you go shopping in one of those Super Large Shopping centres.

This shopping centre is so large it drawfs the Town we actually go to do our shopping in, when we're back in the bush [outback].

It's so big that I wonder if there is anyone that has ever seen every shop and level. It looks like some spiffy hotel, there's leather lounges every where, the doormen are in uniforms , they smile at you and open doors, the decor looks like one of Sadam's palaces before some visitors ruined the party.

Well we don't get to shopping centres very often, in fact if you're after more than a Litre of Milk or a bolt for your tractor then the town we normally shop at isn't what you would call the hottest shopping district.

Mum, Dad and the three little angels were of on an adventure of Dorothy proportions. We were on the Yellow brick road of consumer adventure with our pockets stuffed with cash. Now those pockets may have been stuffed with low denomination bills but hey, they were still stuffed.

Our eldest had been carefully squirreling money away for that day when we get to go to the ' big shop'. We hadn't quite realized just how well she had been squirreling money away until she boasted she had $x number of dollars and Dad told her not to tell tattle tales, she said she wasn't and was adamant.

Being only 6 (almost 7 Dad!) she is a very resourceful saver. Admittedly there's not much to buy where we live except tractor bolts but she had raised quite a sum.

Before we had realized the sum she had, Dad had shot of his mouth and told her She was getting a big surprise sum of money because she had such a good school report.

The first shock was that she decided that most of the 'big' money was going to be used to buy her little sister Amber the biggest 'Dumbo' elephant you can get. Jade knows Amber loves Elephants and Jade knew Amber had just had some serious open heart surgery.

I must admit, I am quite hard on Jade, she is very smart and because of that I fear she may try to take advantage of her peers who aren't as gifted, I'm always talking about thinking of 'others', but as a 6 year old she sometimes looks a little glazed over during Dad's talks.

I was taken aback by Jades offer, yet cautiously waited to see if this rather generous offer was followed through.

Back to the Shopping centre, Mum, Dad the three girls, two shopping trolleys and 8 out of 10 hands busy carrying or pushing goodies which we normally go with out.

We went up the escalator to the 3rd level then to the 4th and finally to the 5th level. Mum and Dad struggling with the Days shopping, the trolleys full of exotic fruits, groceries, toys, clothes things you just can't get where we live, Jade struggling with the biggest Dumbo you could lay your eyes on.

We turned the corner on the 5th level and went out through the Automatic carpark door around the corner and there, right there is where our car used to be....

Two adults struggling with their trolleys, the eldest two out of the three girls with their arms full and all we could do was look at the spot where our car used to be.

400km from home, overloaded with now not so important goodies and my heart sunk to the car park floor.

In the darkness of what would have been our car parking spot existed an even darker empty hole, there was no car, no trunk, no welcoming but worn seats, no cd player no ignition,wheels, engine steering wheel nothing; just a horrid empty space.

The only thing that was left was the tell tale patch of transmision fluid from where we had overfilled the power steering pump just before the trip

Life can be cruel, when you least expect it. Our little girl 4 weeks out of heart surgery, we had finally saved money to go on a modest shopping spree and now the cruelest of blows.

My partner looked up at me, and I could see the tears well in her eyes. This was it. Forget the presents, the surprises, they all surmounted to nothing, The cold harsh reality of getting home the next day to our remote country house was now a serious issue?

What to do? We trudged back like defeated footballers, we had been full of hope, dreams and every thing had just been shattered.

We walked back into the shopping centre as the automatic door whirled open the starkness of the bright lights hit us. I looked at the sign hoping it didn't say in dark green lettering

Unfortunately there it was in the same dark green lettering Arid Street Parking Upper Level 5, I glanced to the side of the entrance to see the poultry and small goods provider but it wasn't there...

'There' was the wrong shop.

But if it is the wrong shop couldn't it be we were on the wrong level?

No it was definitely the Arid Street Parking Level 5 ,(front right corner ) we had parked the car. Why the parking spot had that same dirty large grease spot from another car and it even had our leaking power steering fluid there.

It was like being caught in a virtual world, a virtual shopping center that seemed to be made of liquid it ebbed and flowed and things changed at a whim, a terrible cross between de ja vour and a lucid dream.

The same escalator. The same Doorways. The same lights. The same floor. The same dark green sign that said Arid Street Parking Upper Level 5.

Hey I don't remember that Upper part?

Could it be? Or is it a further cruel joke that reality is playing, surely they wouldn't paint two levels exactly the same with dark green color coded poles and walls and barriers, and name those two levels the same in Dark green signwriting with the only difference being the word Upper ?

They did.

And Ambers Dumbo wasn't the only Dumbo in the car home that night.

We drove home thinking our old bomb wasn't such a bad car after all.

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