Tuesday, August 28, 2012

North Melbourne II

Petrol station. Peak hour. As always, a little bit late. Queue. The pump ticks over, ever so slowly, and I head inside to pay.

I fumble with my wallet - has to be cash. The visa card PIN still eludes me - haven't used it in six months. Receipt, library card, I'm sure I've got the right change somewhere... A coin falls out onto the counter & I stare at it, trying to connect country and currency. It's five pesos. Keep hunting.

The young Indian guy behind the counter perks up.

What's that?

Oh, Filipino pesos. Been back two weeks - need to clean out my wallet!

(Find $50. Pay. Guy gets change, then, shyly...)

Can I have it?

What? The coin?

Yeah. I collect them. 

I hunt through, find the 5P, a 10P, a one. Hand them over, grin, start heading out.

He calls after me, Here! Take one of these! Holds out an Aero bar from the bowl on the counter. He's remarkably happy, but I'd already restrained myself from an impulse buy.

Thanks, but they're only worth about 30 cents. 

As I unlock my car, the woman behind me walks out of the shop.

I would have taken the chocolate, love.

Monday, August 20, 2012

North Melbourne I

My step is light tonight. My fingers are chilled, my nose even more so, but the stars are out, out there beyond the street lights. I stride across Elizabeth St, still too slow for the crossing, a hurried jog against the orange lights for the last few paces.

I carry a paper bag, four new books - I never can restrain myself, despite my groaning shelves. It swings with my step. The op shop is lit, as always - this new haven of junk keeps odd hours. In the window, two golden male mannequins have a new sign: $850 each. They are headless but well endowed; I can imagine there have been offers.

I climb my stairs and again the bag put out for donation catches my eye. Not much, but maybe useful to someone. I have been clearing a little, scraping off a few layers, many to go but progress nonetheless. The last box went to the place on the corner.

It appeared about six months ago; the usual collection of dusty coats but styled for hipster appeal. The mannequins are out of place in their pricing - it seems a genuine op shop, rather than Vintage. The banners are cartoony, emblazoned "Community First" with cutesy faces. The board has a strategically placed bald kid, Czech and Korean flags. It's a big Korean neighbourhood. Donations needed!

The Salvos are four blocks away - a car ride, finding a park. At least I know what they stand for. Community First are 50m away, yet I'm a tad uneasy about an op shop open at 9 on a Monday night. Whose bald kid did they use for the picture? He looks neither Czech nor Korean.

My bag of donations fills up.