Monday, 7 October
Hall Road to Rangiriri (8.5 km)
We were going to catch the 12.06 Intercity bus home, but it broke down near Hamilton, so we had a very long wait in Rangiriri. What to do pass the time…? Oh yes, inspect the public toilet – and gosh, it is another electronically controlled one. They are not all the same, though. This one has the added feature of an automatic paper dispenser. Yes! It makes one think. The consequences of a power failure could be grim indeed. And a lounge lizard-like recording of “Strangers in the night” starts playing as soon as you sit down. (OK, a power failure would not be all bad.) Looking up, I realised the toilet is self-cleaning, too. It has spray attachments which sluice out the cubicle, probably at a given time each day. My need for a shower remained strong. If I stood very quietly, would the electronics detect my presence and decline a cleansing deluge?
You may wonder if there is a mental illness involving excessive blogging about toilets. I checked my Diagnostics and Statistics Manual; it is on the shelf next to my Bible and Dictionary of Archaic Terms. No, there isn’t. In the DoAT, however, are “alack”, “yoiks” and “wanion”. These words mean “alas”, “yippee” and “rotten luck”, respectively.
The Intercity arrived at 2.25. I subsided next to a woman who was in a window seat. She had her head hidden under the curtain. “Hello,” I said to the curtain. “Are you shy, or is it cooler under there?” Her face emerged briefly. “I just hate having people watch me sleep,” she replied. Now I can identify with that. Only fluffy animals and children under the age of 10 look fabulous with a collapsed face and a stalagtite of drool.
After only 30 minutes of travel, the bus broke down again. The passengers were particularly annoyed because when it broke down previously, a new bus had not been sent to fetch them. The defective bus had simply been started again by an electrician, and now the electrical fault had repeated itself. One woman abused the driver – a pointless venting – it is the company, not the driver, who is at fault concerning repair and replacement decisions.
We all sat around on the pavement, waiting for yet another electrician to arrive. As luck would have it, the bus had died next to a Subway takeaway. A boy, who looked well-nourished and about 10 years old, lifted up his T-shirt and pointed to his pink, round tummy. “This tummy is hungry,” he wailed at his mother, who had been resisting his pleas for food. The poor woman gave in at this point.
Bus passengers are generally interesting. Two little Korean brothers were fetchingly dressed as superheroes. One was Batman and the other was Superman, complete with capes. Aw, bless! No-one thought of asking them to fix things, so clearly we all deserved our fate.
A very tall, lanky, spotty youth mooched around. As with most blokes his age, his jeans sagged at the back, revealing an island of underpants. I have often wondered what on earth keeps such trousers up, and if they ever fall right off, and today was my day for finding out. As I watched (yoiks), his pants slid down his thighs (wanion), but he just hitched them up again with absolutely no sign of embarrassment (alack). He then started to pick his teeth. Gotta love teen savoir faire.
At 3.38 a few of us were able to transfer to a Naked Bus and go on to Auckland. I don’t know how long the other souls waited to end their journey.
As I hugged my son hello at home, I noticed he was wearing the same tracksuit pants he had had on five days previously when we said goodbye. While I lay in the wilderness, dreaming of hot baths and clean clothes, he had not changed his trousers! There was an abundance of food stains, three of which I recognised from the previous week’s menu. There was nothing else to do but boil these pants. They yielded into the water what Florence Nightingale would have described as a good, supporting broth. Din-dins!