Australia journal - June 1999

The long trip home, part 3

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Tuesday morning, July 6,  we went back to the Roobar for one fond final breakfast - those brilliant orange yolks, the hash browns with green onions, that tasty bacon, the thick whole wheat toast with sweet marmalade, a heap of steamed spinach, and rich "tall black" coffee - and then we packed up our stuff and checked out of the Cambridge Park Inn for real this time.

And we had one more great taxi ride, too.  This driver immigrated from Greece 35 years ago, and in a delightfully rich hybrid accent he told us his very upbeat story.  His life plan back home in Rhodes was interrupted by poverty - he was going to be a pharmacist, but his family could not afford to pay for his schooling beyond the first year.  There were a few options for a young man of his education level, and he chose to join the police force.  This required that he move to a different part of the country, the idea being that an undercover cop was less likely to do his job improperly if he had no family ties.  He didn't elucidate his reasons for wanting to do so, but this young man decided to move to Australia - but he had 14 months to go on his contract with the police, so he conspired with his girlfriend's family to have him exposed as an undercover cop.  This was grounds for immediately dismissal, so the happy ex-cop went on to Australia with two dollars in his pocket and began a new life.

The girlfriend back in Greece was pregnant, and our driver told of two failed attempts to get an abortion. The first time they tried, they were in a car accident on the way - which did not have the side effect of costing her the child.  The second attempt was not described.  The couple decided not to go for the third attempt to secure an abortion, which is just fine with everyone now because the oldest son is a successful orthopedic surgeon here in Sydney.

Our driver went on to tell us that his second child was a daughter, and they thought their family was complete.  However, they were blessed with a third child - a son, who now runs a successful pastry business serving 64 outlets every day.  The daughter is a dentist, pregnant with our driver's first grandchild, and lives only a block away from her parents.  The two sons both live at home, because their mother is such a good cook.  The driver's parents now live on the property, too.

This was all by way of telling his passengers what a great country Australia is.  he came here with nothing, took work as a laborer and accepted the support of a Christian charitable organization, brought his bride over and later his parents, started a family, earned the money to educate his kids so they could have satisfying careers - "It is not necessary to have millions of dollars to be a happy person," he told us, after describing a life that proves the point handsomely.

We made it onto the plane this time!  In business class again, too.