I’ve my spent my whole life cleaning ovens in Australia.
It’s not a bad life. I love talking to people and getting my hands dirty, so becoming the best oven cleaner in Sydney was a challenge I was well suited for!
With that being said, my dominance of the industry in this region has a few drawbacks. It wasn’t until last year that I left the country for the first time.
I’d not considered my non-existent travelling experience until I visited a particularly worldly client’s home. Their walls were covered in photos of their travels proudly showing all the different places that they’d visited over the years. We have thousands of tourists come to visit us every year here in Sydney from Columbia, India, England, Germany – all these places I’d heard of but I had no idea what they were actually like.
Despite its gargantuan size my homeland seemed to be shrinking more and more. It no longer felt like the exciting vibrant place it once was, it felt stale and a little lifeless. I told my wife this and she told me I needed to go away. She’d done her travelling when she was much younger and had no trouble in settling down with the kids when it came to it, but I was the country bumpkin who had been happy with his working week and weekends spent barbecuing with my mates.
The enormity of what I was about to do had not really gripped me until I stepped aboard the plane, it was the first time I’d ever done so and suddenly the thought of flying through the air for hours on end began to put the fear in me. I felt my knees shake a little and was glad for the in-flight entertainment system, although the take-off was certainly a lot more frightening than I expected it to be.
My first steps on a new land were confusing. It might sound strange, but it was the smell that first surprised me as I left security and made my way out into the bright Tennessee sunlight. In terms of the environment there wasn’t too much to tell it apart from rural Australia: dust, sand, shrubs, but it wasn’t long before the differences started showing themselves. The people dressed much different to Australians. Just like in the movies, big bellied fellas swaggered around with stetsons and boots, whilst their impossibly pristine wives were all spitting images of Dolly Parton.
I’d not been alone and in a foreign country before so I was very much in novel territory – instinct soon kicked in and with just 8 hours to go to before the eclipse I was in a dusty saloon bar, drinking beer, eating BBQ food and making some new friends. You can take the Aussie out of Australia…