An Evening in Roma

20 04 2009

Once we found accommodation for the evening, our first major undertaking was to check the vehicle aftIMG_4438er its day of long haul duty. Dodge meticulously checked oil and water levels and then climbed up to check how the restraints securing the fuel supplies on the roof had survived the drive. Then he checked the dual battery. Because it had taken so long to install the battery, we didn’t have time to ensure that it was working adequately enough to keep our fridge running in the back of the car. Tan’s father, an electrical engineer, had checked the wiring (unloaded) and given it the tick of approval, so we were fairly confident it was getting voltage, but was it getting enough to keep the fridge at a suitably chilled temperature?

Dodge moved to the battery and flicked the test button. Half-charge. Oh sh1t. Not good. Dodge immediately started to panic, not so much about the consumable items in the fridge, but about the pieces of meat he had packed to roast in the camp oven over the course of the next two weeks.

Dodge called The Grand Poo-bah (Tan’s father) to discuss the problem. The Grand Poo-bah was initially just as concerned as Dodge as they discussed possible reasons for the problem and quick fixes that could made to alleviate the problem until we got to a auto electrician the following day (or hopefully not at all). Eventually, the Grand Poo-bah asked “Have you unplugged the fridge?”

“No” answered Dodge.

Dodge couldn’t believe that in his panic, he forgotten to check the battery without appliances drawing current from it. Once he repeated the test correctly, the battery was found to be operating as expected and Dodge let out a long, relaxing sigh as he realized his roast meat would be entirely safe for the time being.

The second major undertaking for the evening was preparing the evening meal. The fact that we were staying across the road from Woolworths and the fact that we had a large amount of food packed in the back of the car that we were too lazy to extract meant that we didn’t want to spend money on a pub counter meal or take away dinner. Eventually, we settled for two varieties of instant pasta and some ginger beer to add to our rum.

While Dodge was paying for our purchases at the checkout, Tan, being the sticky-beak that she is, started reading the staff notices on the bulletin board next to the cashier. She found a staff roster, which she read for no other reason that the fact that it was there, in plain view of everyone passing the counter. Each staff member had written their own name, followed by their department and then indicated their availability for shifts over the upcoming fortnight. Tan’s eyes scrolled down the list, then paused on a particular female staff member’s entry – more so because her employment department was listed as ‘penis holes’. Tan felt a bit embarrassed for the poor girl, thinking that someone was having a go at her for being the ‘girl that gets around’ or the ‘town bike’. Tan re-read the line many times, just to check she hadn’t misread it, but no, it definitely said ‘penis holes.’ The more she looked, the more the laughter swelled up inside her. She turned to Dodge to show him what was so funny, only to find that as she looked again, the girl had really bad handwriting and she actually worked in ‘perishables’.

Dodge had a good giggle at Tan.

We made our way back to our accommodation and Tan started to prepare dinner while Dodge surfed the Austar service for the evening’s quality TV viewing. Cooking dinner was a little awkward – the motel room was equipped for oil and mining exploration contractors to be comfortably accommodated for a week at a time, yet the biggest microwave dish was the size of a breakfast bowl. Tan then proceeded to divide the packets of instant pasta evenly up between four bowls in order to properly cook them (Dodge, being less pedantic than Tan, couldn’t understand why Tan didn’t mix the pasta with mushroom sauce in with the cheesy macaroni pasta dish to make the cooking time shorter and the whole event less bowl-intensive. Tan just rolled her eyes and ignored his (un)helpful suggestions).

After Tan’s obsessively prepared instant pasta meal and a few Dark n’ Stormy rums, we were ready for a good night of sleep. Tomorrow – an early morning departure to reach Longreach before dark (hopefully).


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