Field Trip Part Two


Last Friday, I left the house at 0530 to catch a train into the city. Now you might be thinking, “Julia, what on earth possessed you to leave your nice warm bed at that time of the morning?”  And understandably so. Unfortunately, I have realised something about myself, my priority hierarchy goes like this:

  1. Appointment
  2. Work
  3. TAFE
If I have an appointment, I will get up no matter what time it is, pretty much the same for work. However, my need to for money usually trumps my need to study, so sometimes TAFE gets shunted into the low-priority category.
It is even worse when I do not have TAFE or a structured routine to guide me, I sleep in until about ten, and while that might sound great, it’s irritating when I have all these things to do. I’ve been on holidays for the last two weeks, and you’d think that would give me some free time in order to bum around the house and do absolutely nothing, but I’ve been more busy now than I was when I was doing TAFE. However, now that the high school kids will be going on holidays soon, I will have lots of spare time to contemplate my navel or something. 
Anyway, back to the 0530 start. I received a call from the Red Cross blood donation service saying, “Hey, we need your blood type at the moment, could you possibly come in and donate?” and the germ of an idea came to me. If I book for an appointment at 0800, it will force me to wake up early and I will be able to utilise the whole day. I had been wanting to designate one of my days off to do my field trip, I’m sure if ask anyone that has spent any amount of time around me, they will tell you of my constant yearning to behold the MIGHTY Costco with my own eyes.
However, because of how the V/Line train system works and how far away Bacchus Marsh is, I knew I would have to dedicate an entire day to my trip.  As excited as I was to be able to go to Costco, I had no inclination to spend an entire day looking at things I could not buy. So I decided I would also go to the nearest IKEA (Richmond), another location I have been eager to explore.
However, you’re probably thinking, “Julia, if you have a 08:00am appointment, why do you need to be out the door by 05:30am?” Alas, the V/Line train timetable, and the way it has been organised, meant that if I did not leave the house by 05:30, I would be late for my appointment.  This also included walking time needed to get to the Bourke Street Mall. Due to my location, I can either donate at the Bourke Street Mall location or I can donate at St Albans University but that’s pretty much it. I went to the Australian Red-Cross blood service website (www.donateblood.com.au) and according to them, via my postcode, the closest blood donation center is in Werribee.
Because I am totally going to drive all the way to Werribee just to donate blood. Don’t get me wrong, please donate blood, no matter what your blood type is, they desperate need it. Nevertheless, they could at least make the process a little easier. However, I do get two sausage rolls (little ones) and a cup of tea for free afterwards (you can have a milkshake or a muffin instead if you want; they have a whole menu you can pick two items from).  
When I was in the blood-bank, I realised that there were so many different people giving blood, at eight in the morning no-less. I used to think it was not a big deal that I donated blood, I would think as I went in “O+ is such a common blood type, surely heaps of people donate, and my effort probably doesn’t contribute much.” However, blood-donation seems to suffer from bystander-effect, commonly known, as “Surely someone will do something.” In addition, because everyone is thinking, “Surely somebody is doing the right thing, there’s no need for me to get involved, and I’d just be getting in the way.”  This results in no one donating blood. It does not matter how rare or common your blood type is, when you donate you help save lives.
One of the nurses that attended to me was a man named Lee. Helping around the Red-Cross blood donation service had made him realise just how important giving blood was but he could not donate full blood because he had travelled with the Australian Army over to Papua New Guinea, he had to wait two years before he could donate full blood but was donating plasma in the meantime. That young man is a legend as far I am concerned, but it made me realise those small life decisions you make, like traveling overseas, can sometimes have a huge side-effect in future. 
I also realised that there are some things you’re apparently not supposed to do at a blood donation center, like laughing, no matter how funny the joke the nurse just told you, apparently, that draws stares, especially when she’s jabbing you with a needle. Also dancing in the blood donation chair along to the song “Pleasure and Pain” by Divinyls is probably not a good idea either.
Anyway, I used Journey Planner to help me figure out which trams I needed to take and, most importantly, what number tram stop I needed to get off at, however one of the biggest hurdles I had to overcome is figuring out how to find the tram I needed.
The Journey Planner failed to tell me where the tram stop was in correlation to Southern Cross station. For those curious the tram required for Costco is Tram 86, get off at tram-stop number D10 and the tram stop is located at the intersection of Spencer Street and Bourke Street, right next to the royal mail building with the white columns (it’s currently functioning as a TAB). 
The tram needed to get to IKEA (Richmond) is tram 109, stop number 24 (you can also get off at stop number 25) and the tram is located at the intersection of Spencer Street and Collins Street, if you can see the Krispy Kreme doughnuts store leer tempting at you from the tram-stop, you’re in the right place.
It may not have been obvious, but I’m not very good at using trams, probably because I seldom have a need to do so. Also tram-drivers are kind of like the 7-11 of the transport industry. I understand why that massive sheet of bulletproof glass is there, but it still makes it very intimidating to ask questions about where you need to go.
Compared to say bus-drivers, who I have always had pleasant experiences with, for example, once I needed to catch a bus to a secondary college I had never been to before but I knew the number  of the bus I needed to take. As soon as I got onto the bus, I politely told the bus driver I needed to get to this school and asked him if he could please tell me which stop on the bus route I needed to get off at. He got out his Mel ways, looked it up and specifically pointed out which stop I would need and gave me walking directions from the bus stop. 
Now I will acknowledge that my example above is one of a kind, but the fact remains that it shouldn’t be. It’s not too difficult for a tram driver to announce over the loud speaker for the street name and the tram stop number the tram has arrived at, especially when the tram is jam-packed like the 109 tram was. Maybe I am just a little weird, but I get very anxious about going to places I’ve never been to before.  It is even worse when the place I’m visiting has very terrible directions.
For example, I found it easier to get off at stop D12 and walk through “Harbour Town”  (that’s what it’s called, I’m seriously not making it up, did the people who constructed these shopping complexes watch too much Pokémon?) to get to Costco. You keep walking straight and then down past all the fast food/take-away stores and you will see a big sign at the end of that says “Costco, this way ->  well it doesn’t look exactly like that, but I’m sure you get the picture.
The IKEA in Richmond is easy to get to by tram, the problem is that the IKEA is located inside Victoria Gardens shopping center and you have to walk around a huge car park and then walk through the loading bay of the shopping center to get inside. I found this to be incredibly irritating. Journey Planner suggested that I get off at stop 24, but I found it easier if I used stop 25 instead.
Now, as for Costco itself, it was awesome. My greatest weakness is cheese, a cheese platter is like my kryptonite, except I want to eat it instead of having seizures or whatever it is that Superman does (it’s hard to keep track of the continuity with all terrible modern adaptions **cough**Small Ville**cough** Superman Returns **cough**).
Don’t get me started on Superman, trust me, we will be here for days. 
In Costco, you can get two-kilo blocks of Philadelphia crème cheese (**insert maniacal evil laughter**).  However, we must remember that a clean colon is a happy colon and a lot of cheese does not make for a happy colon.
One of the small drawbacks of Costco is the membership thing. To be able to buy stuff, you have to sign up for a membership card, which costs $60 or $55 if you have business or if you have an ABN number.  I had to go to the front desk and show them my driver’s licence before they would let me have a look around the place.
While in Costco, I talked to an elderly man who asked what I was taking photos in Costco for (I told him I was doing a writing course and that I was doing an article on Costco). We were looking at the locked cabinets of crystal ware and he said, “Why on earth would you waste that kind of money on a pair of swans?”
I said, “Well if you’ve got that much money that you can waste it on a pair of crystal swans, you’re probably pretty well off,” he nodded and looked disgruntled as I felt. “However,” I said, examining the black and white crystal swans closer, “the real problem is that you would have to be really careful with them, like say if one of them had their head smashed off, you’d have to break the head off of the other one, so that they still matched, it’d look weird otherwise.” He seemed to find this amusing.
As I mentioned earlier, the getting to IKEA was the most difficult part, but once I was in there, it was great. The displays were excellent visuals what I want to do with my own house and how to go about doing it.
For example, I know I want to set up a professional study area, but I pretty much have no idea how to go about setting one up or how to best utilise the space I have available. I know IKEA is expensive, but the reason I took photographs of the furniture I did was that a lot of it could be hand-made (like the bookcases). One of my missions in life is to make a piece of furniture, preferably a bookcase.
Why?
Just Because.
I suppose I contemplate my own mortality a little too much. I know I need to stop looking at life as a great big list of stuff I haven’t done, but it’s very hard. It was also kind of depressing know how far I have yet to go before I can start doing the things I want to do, like get a “real job” and start earning a decent income.
I know what you’re thinking, welcome to the real world, we’re all struggling towards what we want and I suppose that why so many students drop out in that final year of their bachelor degree. The idea that the struggle does not end just because you have that degree or diploma in hand and the fact that it opens up a completely new realm of problems to overcome can be very daunting.
Nevertheless, I want any students, who may be reading this to know something, do not give up, because if you do not finish it now, you never will and no one is going to do it for you. It will set a pattern for the rest of your life. A life of half-hearted ideas or unfinished projects is the worse alternative.
I just have one more thing to say before I put away the soapbox. While walking to IKEA, there were two Muslim girls walking ahead of me, they were speaking in English so I knew what they were talking about, I had not been paying much attention to their conversation but when I did pay attention, I could not help but smile. One girl was telling the other girl that a person they both knew was interested in her that she should pursue him. It was also somewhat cute when they held hands as they crossed the road.  
I guess what I’m trying to say is that it was heartening to know that no matter how different we are, we all have things in common, whether it be spending twenty minutes in a chair and having your blood pumped out every 12 weeks or playing matchmaker to one of your girlfriends. I know those are small examples, but I think it’s the small things, like having dinner ready for your significant other when they get home and asking how their day was, that are the most important.   

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