Catalyst… (My Story)
My story starts about 3 years ago. Really? No, actually my story started 38 years ago, but it’s the last few years that are shaping my current reality, so that’s where i’ll start…
3 years ago, I was smack bang in my mid-thirties, single, living in Australia, on the beach. I was surfing every day, before and after work. I’d recently obtained my private pilots license. I had a great job (or so I thought at the time). I owned my own apartment near the beach, and had a ridiculous social life to boot… Life was good, very good…
But that all changed one Thursday evening as I raced home from Bankstown airport on my motorbike. I’d just been night flying for a couple of hours with my flight instructor. We’d had fun! A lot of fun. I was training for my night rating, so we’d flown the short hop to Camden to do some circuits, and then back to Bankstown for some more circuits there. There’s something really cool about flying at night, seeing the lights light up the runway. I guess that’s the closest feeling that I get to my childhood fantasy of being an airline pilot. Anyway, I’m getting off topic.
So, we’d had a fun couple of hours flying. I’d booked in for the same time same place a week later, and set off on my beautiful Aprilia Tuono for the ride back home. Now, like most motorbike riders, I like to push it a bit. I consider myself a safe rider (I’m sure we all do) but I like to open up the throttle once in a while, and give it some.
There’s a spot on the M5 motorway, where the speed limit reduces to 80km/h, near the airport tunnels. Everyone knows that there are speed cameras in the tunnels, but I always liked to give it a little squirt in-between the tunnels, just to feel the rush of speed. I slow to 80 through the tunnels, and as I emerge from the other side of the tunnel, and enter the tunnel under Sydney airport, I see a car in my rear view mirrors appear and hug my back wheel. My first thoughts are “What’s this idiot doing up my arse”, but a milli-second later I notice the tell-tale lights. It’s the cops. Fuck! How fast was I going? What did he see? Panic sets in!
I try to play it cool, sticking religiously to the speed limit, but moments later he flicks on his red and blue lights and I know I’m in trouble.
I pull over at the petrol station, and the cop pulls in behind me, the way you see in car chases on the TV. Blocking me, in case I try to do a runner!
I get off my bike and the cop comes running over (yes, he still thinks I’m going to do a runner). I try and be all polite with him, hoping that I can sweet-talk my way out of this, hoping that he didn’t really see how fast I was going, but he’s pissed. This isn’t looking good. It quickly becomes apparent that this particular cop feels that any speeding infringement is a personal attack on him. He tells me that he clocked me at 140 in an 80 zone. That’s 60 over. 45 over is an instant 6 month ban. Fuck!
He takes my license and tells me I can get it back from the local RTA in 6 months.
Me: “How do I get my bike home?”
Cop: “That’s your problem”
Me: “Can I call my mate to come ride it home for me?”
Cop: “No, I’m confiscating your license plates. No-one is allowed to ride it. You’re lucky I’m not impounding your bike”
It’s amazing how much your feeling of self-worth is determined by your mode of transport. Yes, I’d caught the bus before, but only because my bike was in for a service, or because I was going out on the town and wanted to drink. This was different though. This was commuting by bus.
I was used to zipping through the traffic on my bike. Riding a motorbike to work was my biggest life hack. 20 minutes door-to-door, free parking. Leave for work late in the morning after my surf. Home early after work to surf again. This was different… People coughing and sneezing. Passengers getting on and off the bus without looking at each other. Everyone on their dreary, obligatory bus-ride into work. This was an hour and 40 minute commute each way with traffic. This felt shit.
Suddenly I didn’t feel successful anymore.
It was a shock to the system. Gone were my morning surfs before work. Gone were my evening surfs after work. For the next 6 months I would get up, go straight to the bus stop, and ride the bus to work, spend 8 hours in the office, before repeating the journey in reverse. I was finally deeply entrenched in the rat race!
I started to resent my job. I’d never minded it before, but now it was consuming my whole week. I knew I had a good, well-paying job, but I realised that I had stopped enjoying my work a long time ago. It was the beginning of the end…
Well, every cloud has a silver lining. I now had lots of time on the bus. If I was going to spend hours commuting each day, you could be sure I was going to put that time to good use. That was when I started reading!