One thing you should know about me. I hate shopping, especially clothes shopping. It probably goes back to when my mother took me to Robert Hall (low overhead) and made me try on all sorts of things that I couldn’t care in the least about. Sometimes I think she viewed me as an overstuffed doll that she was trying to make look slimmer. Clothing was very important to my folks. I couldn’t be bothered; did it cover the important parts? was it loose? was it blue? Good to go.
I was shopping because of Alaska Airlines. I needed to get some shorts as well as some over the counter meds (cough syrup, foot power, saline nasal spray) that were packed in our bag that went walkabout.
Suzi didn’t go with me because she is still isolating with COVID (She tested negative the next day.) She feels fine, no symptoms, but still two little red lines showed up on the test again this (Feb 2nd) morning. We were going to have lunch with friends in Devonport but because Suzi is still “grounded”, and I had COVID recently we mutually decided to take a raincheck. But Patty did do some looking and found some stores that may have shorts my size. One was in Devonport, where she lived. Since I love ferry rides, I decided to go there.
Auckland has had a lot of rain and is still in a state of emergency because of flooding and damage. One of the casualties is the ferry system. The ferry to Devonport is supposed to run every half hour but today they were running hourly. I had gotten to the terminal 15 minutes early for the 10:30 ferry. There was no 10:30 ferry. So, I bought a ticket for the 11 AM and walked Queen Street, the main shopping drag. It has been under construction the last two times we were here. The locals promised us that when we came back it would be finished.
“Why do you think it will be finished?”
“Because (insert some big sporting event here, I can’t remember if it was a Commonwealth thing, rugby or sailing, all of which are very important in New Zealand) and it has to be done by then or heads will roll.”
Because of the pandemic the sporting event didn’t happen, and while there was still some construction, I saw no politicians’ heads on pikes and I enjoyed being able to walk downtown without running a rat’s maze.
I found a big discount pharmacy and filled my net bag with cough syrup, foot powder and other stuff (I have lived in Eastern Europe long enough to know to carry an “opportunity bag,”) and headed down to catch the 11 AM ferry, which was crowded with everyone who wanted on at 10:30 as well as at 11. Crowded as it was it was still a wonderful ride across the harbor.
In Devonport I hiked up the main street to the men’s store. I not used to having a selection. I find the one item that fits me in the category I need and buy it. No shopping, just buying. But this place was amazing, they had a lot of shorts that were in my size, AND EVEN BIGGER!. I looked at a pair of shorts and wondered what 48 inches was in centimeters. The clerk, without missing a beat said “122.” He was off by .08 centimeters. The guy was good.
He asked “what are you looking for?”
“Yeah, I don’t want stuff to fall out.
He pulled a couple of styles out. These are more stylish but may be a little tight, these will be more roomy. I checked the pockets, “I’ll take the roomy ones.”
“They are a bit more expensive.”
“I don’t care, I’m not paying for them.”
“The airline lost my baggage.”
“By all means, then, take the expensive ones, just keep the receipt. What color do you want?”
“I have a choice of color? I don’t care, I’ll take the ones fewest people want. No, I don’t need a bag.”
They are “Kiwi Made” 100% canvas with strange washing instructions. “Warm Machine Wash, use cold water.”
I wandered out to the main square which had a wonderful banyan tree that I love to sit under except two power lawn mowers were working the square and I started to sneeze.
Being in a place named Devon I decided scones and clotted cream would be the thing, so I sat outside the Café Esplanade and ordered my scones, but since this isn’t England, with a cappuccino. Lots of cruise mates walked by. Some were on a tour of “historic Devonport,” others on their own. Several stopped to ask about Suzi or my baggage. One of the nice things about a long cruise is that it builds community, it works on relationships. Andy Fletcher, the lecturer for the first two weeks, used the relationships we built as a metaphor for Quantum Mechanics, where everything is relational, space-time, the observer and the observed.
Then my phone rang. I looked at the caller ID, Alaska Airlines. Oh oh. It was Seattle.
“Mr. McClear, how are you doing today.”
“Just fine, spending Alaska Airlines’ money.”
“Just keep the receipts. Good News, we have your bag here in Seattle.”
“I got an email last night that Sitka had my bag?”
“What, this is Central Baggage, we have no record of that.”
“Well, actually we have your wife’s bag. Her name is Janice McClear, right?”
“Nope, her name is Suzi.!”
“Who is Janice McClear?”
“My aunt, but she’s been dead for nearly three years. When you guys lose luggage, you really loose luggage.”
“It’s a nice colorful beach bag with backstraps. Are you sure…?”
“Yep, I’m sure my wife is named Suzi and my Aunt Janice has passed.”
“We were going to offer to send it to Auckland.”
“We’re leaving Auckland this afternoon, if you were going to send it anywhere it would be Sydney, but when I asked Joe, also at Alaska airlines, to send our bag that you didn’t know he had but which is now in Sitka he told us if we shipped it to Sydney we would never see it again.”
“He’s probably right. Usually, it takes longer to clear the bag through customs than you are in port. Joe gave you good advice. But I thought I would offer.”
“Thanks for the offer, I am off to spend more of Alaska Airlines’ money.”
“Keep the receipts, have fun.”
I actually didn’t spend any more of their money, unless I submit the receipt for the ferry ride back to Auckland, but I doubt they will cover that. But I will try.
I finished my scones and enjoyed Devonport, which is a town of Victorian carpenter gingerbread. Then I ambled back to the ferry terminal, watched some boats floating by, looked at Devon’s beach which had somewhat washed away (the steps down to the sand ended abruptly so that last step would be a killer) and across to the Auckland skyline.
Back in Auckland I had some time so walked along the harbor enjoying the sailboats and little coves where they moored. As I was getting on the ship the local security guard asked how my day was and what I did. I said “Fine, shopping.”
“Oh dear, Auckland is such an expensive city, you should shop when you get to Sydney where things are less dear.”
“The airline lost my bag; they are paying for this.”
“Well, then, thank you for your business and remember, keep the receipts.”
Now after waiting for a squall to pass we are heading out of the harbor, waving at customers of the Hilton Hotel on the pier, and turning, hopefully with the wind, for our next port of call.