Australia is a big beautiful country packed with amazing natural wonders and cosmopolitan charm. Unfortunately, like most places, it also has its share of assholes. For the most part, Aussies didn’t win me over. Here’s why:
My experience with Australians not winning me over began long before I had set foot on the continent. I’ll backpack. While travelling Europe, in 2006 I came across many loud, drunk, and of obnoxious Aussies – but to be fair, I was probably right there with them at the time.
Still, I should mention I noticed this trend more and more up until coming to a head while visiting Bali for the first time. This is where the term ”Bogans” finally made sense. Bars and clubs in Kuta spilt over with loud, drunk, and in-your-face Aussies. Don’t get me wrong, every country has its own version of these tourists, including Canada. Just go to a party town in Mexico to see what I mean. Still, for my first impression of sorts right before I went to Australia for the first time, it set a tone.
While travelling through Australia I noticed a trend. Customer service was hit and miss and those with a little power, use it. With no tipping in Australia, I assumed that service in restaurants would be lacking. This, of course, was not the case. What I did notice is when a bar or restaurant was closing, you had to get the [email protected] out. This went as far as getting told repeatedly that the restaurants we were in were closing ~30-45 minutes beforehand.
We were also given stink eye when trying to order a beer or coffee at a place that was closing in 30 minutes. I can appreciate that the people working there just want to go home and later found that weekends are at double-time so can also appreciate that the owners want them gone too. Still…
The worst of when Aussies didn’t win me over customer service wise came from the airline industry. While waiting on the tarmac at the gate on an already delayed flight I got up to use the bathroom to release the litre of liquid that I was not allowed to take on the flight. To my surprise (and horror), I found the lavatories were locked before take off.
Flight attendant: “Return to your seat. We are about to take off”
Me: “There’re still people boarding the plane.”
Flight attendant:” We are about to take off. Take your seat now.”
Me (looking at an elderly couple struggling to find their seats): “Seriously?”
I questioned if this was a bad joke. It was not. After a conversation where I felt like a kindergarten student asking for permission to go pee pee, I was allowed to use the facilities, with a stern warning of ”be quick” of course. I returned to my seat and waited for another 15 to 20 minutes till we left the gate.
A similar scenario happened on a flight to Sydney where water was allowed onboard but hot beverages were not. ”Oh you can’t take that on the plane, It’s too hot” Has anyone ever enjoyed a seven dollar hot coffee that you chugged out of spite?
Then there were the ticket agents who took their jobs way too seriously. While checking into a flight to Sydney an all-too-serious agent couldn’t find us on the flight. When asked what time our flight was I replied
“The one at 12:05?”
Agent (with a smug look): “Oh, you’re at the wrong airport. NEXT!”
With a slam of our passports on the counter, she literally waved the next person in the line to the counter. Granted it was our stupidity for going to the wrong airport however her total lack of compassion and helpless nature was laughable.
Then, when trying to leave the country when our check-in agent almost didn’t let us go.
Agent: “New Zealand requires proof that you’re leaving the country. You can’t fly there one-way”
Me: “We aren’t. We are flying out on another ticket.”
Now, this sounds innocent but it was the way she said it. It was in the tone and demeanour as if to say ”Got you [email protected]! You ain’t going nowhere!” When we finally pulled up our info (something she thought we were lying about?) she noticed we were flying back through Sydney on our way home.
Agent: “You need another visa”
Me: “No, we don’t.”
She was firm that we were in the wrong and when she finally realized that was not the case she offered no apology. Just a loud “NEXT!”
– Not all locals were unfriendly
Getting to the airport on that later flight through Sydney should have been another opportunity for Aussie’s to win me over, but no go. In the lobby of our layover hotel, they had a kiosk to book a shuttle bus to the airport. Super convenient? Fast forward to the very early a.m. and us checking our watches with our bags in the lobby. “Are you guys waiting for something?” The hotel clerk finally asked. When I told him we had booked the bus through the kiosk he actually said ”Oh, you shouldn’t have done that”
Clerk: “They’re not that reliable. I have been meaning to put up a note on that machine to say not to use.”
Upon request, he put me on the phone with the company.
Agent: “Did you confirm your pickup mate?”
Me: “Yes. I purchased tickets last night.”
Agent:“Oh no. You still need to confirm it 48 hours in advance.”
Agent:“Just because you bought a ticket doesn’t mean the bus will come.
After questioning this method and, after getting no compassion or understanding that we were running the risk of missing our 16-hour flight, the agent said the bus would be there in 5-10 minutes. This, of course, meant 3 blocks away at a different hotel and 5-10 minutes meant never. After a mad dash and waiting 30-minutes, we headed to the metro.
Chivalry is Dead
This one is for the ladies.
I had heard that Aussie men are a touch chauvinistic but only experienced this 1st hand in Australia. I watched in awe as the male host on a local morning show said and did the most shocking things on air. There was a debate on providing expecting mothers with easy access parking to which these men were having none of it.
Then there was the construction worker that ran Erin over while walking down a busy sidewalk. Her natural reaction was a barely audible “tisk.” This dingo, with super-dingo hearing, took exception to this.
“You alright?!” he barked in a tone that really said “You are fu*cking alright! Get over it you twat!” He was now staring at her with rage in his eyes…so I slapped him…with kindness.
Jokes. I wasn’t there for this one. Erin was walking to meet up with me and felt his stare as she shrugged it off and walked away.
Don’t Get me Wrong
Before you jump all over me for being soft, sensitive, or a travelling idiot let me say that I fully recognize my bonehead travel goofs that caused some of these customer service interactions. I totally get that I put myself in those situations, for the most part. What I find odd is I have travelled to 70+ countries and nowhere else did I experience the same [email protected] attitude in similar situations. So I have to ask why?
And of course, I met many great Australians, some of which have become great friends. I stayed with wonderful people in Adelaide who went out of their way to show us their wonderful part of Austrailia. I also went out of the way to visit a long time friend in Canberra…becuase why go to Canberra, says everyone not from Canberra.
These great Australians are the many. The few I experienced did, however, ruin the rest. I do have Kiwi friends who warned me of these tendencies and I did binge watch the “Flight of the Conchords” before the trip which didn’t help either. Watch the “Keitha” episode to really appreciate the stereotypical differences.
So I suppose I had some pre-seeded expectations which put a spotlight on these situations. If I am off on these thoughts then prove me wrong Australia.
What say you? Do you relate to why Aussies didn’t win me over? Or do you have have experiences that are the complete opposite? Let’s hear it! Comment below.