It is not a secret that I have been a quest speaker in relation to partner visas at CPD (professional development) seminars for migration agents of late. The convener of these sessions is Michael Jeremy of WestVisa. Yesterday I flew to Sydney for just such a session. I have to say the audience were wonderful and there were a couple of guests as well which was special. I will let them identify themselves in time if they so wish!
The day started when I left the house at 7 am. I had already decided parking at the airport for the day was about the same price as two taxis, so I just took my own car. Parked at the airport. Off to the check-in desk.
Actually, no. Off to find a Customer Service agent. You see, I had already checked-in, but I had an exit row seat and Qantas policy is no boarding pass if you have an exit row seat. Instead you get a confirmation with THIS IS NOT A BOARDING PASS in big letters printed on it and instructions to go to the Customer Service desk to get your boarding pass. Clearly they want to personally ensure the passenger fits the criteria for a exit row passenger.
I found a Customer Service staff member who brusquely told me, “You need to check-in, it is all self-service now.”
I tried to explain to her that no, she needed to print me a boarding pass. She would not listen and insisted she “help” me use the self-serve kiosk. I shook my head and complied. There seemed little point in arguing with her. Of course, we got to the end of the process and the machine said: “Your boarding pass cannot be printed by the kiosk” or words to that effect.
“Oh”, the Customer Service person says, “You have an exit row seat, you didn’t tell me that!”
“I tried to, you refused to listen”, I replied. She also hadn’t recognised the Qantas piece of paper I had shown her CLEARLY stating what was required.
Qantas – looking at you with that tale of woe!
I hoped this wasn’t an indication of the day ahead.
Heading to the departure gate, I noticed Victoria’s Secret have arrived in Australia – WOW!
The speaking venue was close to Wynyard Station, so rather than battle Sydney taxis, I had been advised by Michael to catch the airport train. Melbourne, trust me, we NEED one of these! It was a little expensive I thought, at $15.90 each way, but it was terrific! Love those double-decker trains too!
The only issue was the lovely ticketing machine charged me for the return trip but only spat out one ticket (you actually need two, one each way). Luckily, there was no problem with the staff who happily opened another machine and handed me a return ticket.
Clearly transport systems in Australia were not trying to be helpful this day!
Arriving at the station in Sydney, my GPS didn’t seem to know precisely where I was, but with the help of a friendly local I managed to head in the right direction and reach my destination (your destination is on the right, my GPS informed me).
There was a small statue in this small street.
Very British, this is, but where you find statues there are usually pigeons! I felt sorry for this one: at least one toe was missing. Living in Sydney must be tough, even for the pigeons.
As Mike was still lecturing, I found myself a nice cup of coffee and settled into the break-out room of the venue.
During the lunch break, we wondered off to a local place to have a nice lunch before my speaking turn. The after-lunch slot is always tough – people have an inclination to nap after food!
The session went very well – the audience members were interactive so it was also a lively session, quite a few bought Love versus Goliath and I think the guests found it very informative. One said my talk was quite an eye-opener, which of course is the objective so it was nice to receive positive feedback. I might have been a little passionate in regard to one point, but it IS a case I feel passionate about: it is, after all, why I published the book.
We had decided I was going to Sydney quite late in the piece and being a Friday, flights home has been scare (without paying an arm and a leg, that is) so my flight was not until 9 pm. Mind you, by now my feet were causing me considerable discomfort (or, less politely, my feet were F-word painful), so the extra time was valuable.
Public speaking hint: never travel and then present in the same pair of shoes if there in walking involved in the travelling!
I flew back with Virgin who seemed to be changing departure gates every 5 minutes. I witnessed several people trying to board a Jetstar flight boarding late from the gate our Virgin flight was supposed to depart from. Yes, we too were moved to depart from another gate, a bit late. Once I arrived in Melbourne I was SO SO tempted to walk to my car barefoot but as this wasn’t the Melbourne Cup, I soldiered on in my shoes. That is a lie: I didn’t soldier on at all, I hobbled very slowly.
I finally crept in the back door at about 11:30 pm. Slipped out of my shoes and changed into my dressing gown followed by a nice warm coffee.
It was good to be home!