Friday, June 1, 2012

14) An Australian Elephant

"No, that is not acceptable. I would like an apology, with the company letterhead, and signed by Alan What's-His-Face, C.E.O. of Qantas ... Thank you, I received the Qantas special luggage bag, as requested, at the hotel, but now I await the letter signed by ... No, Alan is to sign it himself and not those representing him. Did he not get the questionnaire that I posted on Facebook? The customer is always..." Michael carries on the cell-phone hands-free banter with Qantas that began just after I'd left for Perth. Back here in Sydney, he drove the hour or so with Justin and me to his sprawling ranch house in Glenorie . But now, as I type, it is 3:55 a.m. and Michael, The Great Elephant, sleeps across from me in the lounge on the couch beneath the painting of the sepia-toned old elephant I gave him on his last visit to Canada. Beside me, to the right the TV truly blares very loudly with Australian Wrestling. I came down the brightly lit corridor outside my room because Mike last night had invited me for an early morning tryst should I get up. And as usual, perhaps because of jet-lag, I am awake and writing here in this journalesque style about The Oz Saga. But the living room is entirely dark, and Mike, under a blanket, I surmise could not get to sleep last night and came in here to watch TV. Should I go? The specialness of being here, however, is worth the moment. Being in this fabulously comfortable house, with Mike's family that is so loving and engaging and vibrant, is among those indelible privileges of a lifetime. Yesterday morning at this time I was videotaping the organic spread of light even before the Sidney harbor sunrise from my 26th floor hotel room. This morning I document the organic breathing of my dear Australian friend across from me in the darkness of the form on the couch. The light from the TV scarcely reaches him. The sound levels though, is enough to wake the house! But this is a house of brick and stone, and even from my room, I did not hear it. Qantas heard him. Mike did not relent. They sent to my hotel last night a Qantas labelled carry on case as an apology. The various levels of customer care personnel fielded his persistence, and their official letter will be forthcoming. Even when we were on the circular harbor cruise, Justin, Mike, and me, Qantas phoned the catamaran. Mike can ruffle feathers if need be. Like the great elephant he is, he is gentle and loving and tender, but do not cross him; his strength of purpose is formidable! Justin and Mike had pushed me around the circular quay, back in Sydney. Even at the Waterfront restaurant, where the waiter who worked a full year dropped his first plate of food (my risotto) en route, Mike's phone rang. It was even just as we presumed: Qantas. The saga continued. So too in the car, on speaker phone, on the way here. "Good Morning, Richard!" Mike now says cheerfully and with vigor, fully dressed and showered, turning all the lights in the great room on. Say what? Oh! It's Mike teenage son, Karl, that is asleep on the couch. In the dark I was entirely under assumption! We hug and Mike makes coffee. And I excuse myself to come shower, literally type this last paragraph from my bedroom, and then will go join him. Ha! And I thought he was asleep on the couch. No, Mike, the great elephant, is not a person to make assumptions about. Qantas learned that much, let me tell you!

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