So where was I? Oh yes, finally on the train. (Pre-train saga here)
As I said, there were good moments. One good moment was realising that the movie playing on the tiny screens on the ceiling was one that I had heard via audiobook earlier in the year, so I got to enjoy that.
Got to big smoke - remember this line - "I am talking printed out instructions on the THREE buses that would be
required to get me from the train station to the hospital within the
timeframe of WHEN THE TRAIN WAS DUE TO ARRIVE and WHEN THE APPOINTMENT
WAS SET FOR. We are talking a time gap of 65 minutes. The three bus
option would have taken forty-eight minutes - slower, admittedly, than
the thirty-seven minute two bus combination that required a 758m WALK at
the end of it."
I had worked out that I could sprint down the main thoroughfare, catch a bus 2 minutes after the train arrived, swap buses at a bus station 5 minutes away, swap buses a third time at another bus station and then walk 150m to get to where my specialist appointment was with 10 minutes to spare.
I had not factored in the rebuild that they were doing at the station at the other end.
Luckily a work colleague mentioned that it might be less stress to just grab a cab ('Salina's Dad and uncles were cabbies, and too many friends were in that industry for me ever to consider Uber) and, as the train station was undergoing this massive renovation, it was a good 5 minutes wandering through work zones with no signage before I found where the "courtesy bus" to the bus station (and luckily, where a cab could find me).
Another bright-side of my day was the cabbie, who had just dropped his kids at school, who had lived in the street of the hospital, who had lived in Big Smoke for 10 years and loved it and who was a very pleasant companion for the drive. His family had been recently visited by cancer - his little sister was undergoing treatment "back home" and had lost a large percentage of her bodyweight but "praise god" looked to be recovering. He only got to see his family every two years, when he went back to visit. He was very fortunate to be able to help his family so much by being over here. I can understand that.
I finally found the specialist rooms - through a multi-level carpark with lifts that had constuction zone plastic and hand-written signs as "the floors above were still being built". Big Smoke is evidently a work in progress.
The specialist appointment was a bust. Basically got told that they couldn't test me for anything unless I spent a fortune and here are the ways that I could spend that fortune. Relatives who HAD been previously diagnosed with cancer could spend a lower fortune to find out, and here is how that news would impact descendents at a lower fortune again - and with a codicil of a possible fortune in insurance repercussions. Pay the girls a small fortune on the way out.
Lose 40% of the weekly income, hand over another sizeable percentage to be told - nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Less than expletive deleted zero...
Thoroughly deflated, I realised I had HOURS to get back to the train station to ride it home in the afternoon. But I really wasn't up to enjoying the delights of Big Smoke.
For a start, I had very little money on me, and Big Smoke does appreciate money.
Secondly, I was on a fast day - so no eating my feelings!
I found a bus stop to wait for the "every 10 minutes" courtesy bus to take me to a bus station. For the first 10 minutes I waited patiently. The next 10 perhaps less patiently. Then I thought "this is an opportunity to contact sister-outlaw" who lives in Big Smoke but I wasn't sure I would be able to catch up with. So I rang her. 8 minutes into our phone call, the bus came - and the driver was very pointed in how rude I was to be on the phone - unfortunately for him, I had run out of spare expletive-deleteds to give about this situation, because I considered this phone call to be therapeutic.
Big Smoke continued to give. Twelve years ago I wrote of leafblowers - I am still of the same mindset. The bus station had one being wielded by a master in the martial art of screwing with your serenity, and he actually managed to corral all would be commuters to the very end of the platform with his officious blowering. He was so good at it, I think he must have been working on some sort of bonus system.
This led to me diving on the first available bus towards the city. The bus was standing room only - and with my backpack my standing room was facing the wrong way. I got a good view of the cement walls of the bus way and then freeway, with a framing of very dour faces all barreling into the heartless centre of Big Smoke.
Readers, it broke me. I had to escape - the first stop that bus made was the stop that I got off, because I knew that I was very brittle and it wouldn't take much to plunge me into the pit of despair at that point.
I needed caffiene.
I needed care.
I needed kindness.
Instead, I found a public art gallery, which had a coffee shop, quiet space and a chance to just be for a while.
Once loins were girded and caffiene levels topped up, I ventured out again with A PLAN. I had four more hours in Big Smoke and one voucher - and I was going to go into the Shopping Emporium and REDEEM...