Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday "stuff"

Exercise report: First.... Confession... I have had two "rest days" from exercise. On Friday we were invited to an end of year house-warming at the latest Habitat for Humanity house so I did not get to exercise. On Saturday evening we went out to spend a voucher for an expensive meal-out that I received at my sixtieth birthday weekend. It was a taste of how the other half live. $164:50 for two meals in a nice restaurant! ... So no exercise. Tonight, however, with a clear blue sky I went for a 6.5 k jog.... slow but it will get easier. It was nice....when I stopped.

Thanksgiving: I sat and enjoyed conversation and a beer in the Habitat house. As I looked around at a family now living there, the atmosphere, the warmth and hospitality I could not help but remember that it once was just a dirty, overgrown section and that little old me had helped make this home a reality. I am thankful for Habitat for Humanity and what can be done through it's system.

A wow: I have a running friend who on Saturday headed off to join her family in a visit to family in Perth, her home town. (I know it sounds unpatriotic .... but I do have one or two Australian friends) We run together once a week when we are able. At the end of my jog tonight I got my little old near-matchbox-size cell phone and texted her a report.... "6.5 k jog... clear blue sky" etc. Within a few seconds I got a reply, "Christmas shopping with mum." Now I know that these days that is very basic, run of the mill, take it for granted technology.....but it still makes me shake my head in wonderment. Here I am on the roadside in Dunedin.... pushing buttons on a wee box in the palm of my hand, here she was in some unknown shop .... miles and miles away.. across Australia in Perth and she read what I texted and replied within seconds!!! I remember the amazing technology that used to be. You could dial (spin manual dial) the tolls operator and ask for a number in Perth. They would call up an Australian operator and they would dial the house phone of that person and there would be countless "Are you there caller?" questions and "Please hold the line" statements..... and just maybe you would get a crackly connection. Well this old man is still blown away by texting internationally!

A cringe and question: I had a phone call in the office the other day. It was "Mary" and she asked for my wife. When I said she wasn't there she said, "I just rang to wish yous a happy Christmas, tell your wife I have another grandchild, I'll be in touch after Christmas." Now I know that sounds nice and friendly, but Mary is a bludger. Nearly every Christmas she runs out of credibility with the social work agencies and turns to us to bludge money out of us. There is always some great sob story. The other day I got another phone call. "Hi Davy matey!" said this voice, "It's been a couple of years, how are you?.. this is 'Frank', remember me?" My heart sank. I remembered the voice and the false friendliness. He just wanted to book in for the Christmas dinner, which I was happy to do. "Frank" (Not his real name) used to bludge money out of me years ago and try again and again to bludge money for petrol. He always had some sob story, but the ominous thing about him was that he almost got threatening when you didn't oblige. (Which I didn't) "I have friends in the mongrel mob and I know where you live!" he once said. Well today he rang up at lunchtime and the same sort of ominous tone came into the dialogue. All very friendly, "You must be at your home in Sawyers Bay, I need some money for gas, when will you be in town again?" "Not till Tuesday" I lied. "I really need it today but on Tuesday I will come and discuss it with you." I know that "Frank" has cut someone with a knife who did not oblige once! I suspect he has a drug and drink problem. I just hate the slimy nature of his approach, the lies and hinted threats. Why me? What do you do with people like Frank and Mary? Jesus said, "To give to any who asks of you." I am a relatively soft touch but I have also evolved a great "bullshit-detector" and I dislike lies, whiny stories and perpetual bludgers. Some are just creepy. God give me the wisdom, courage and love to deal constructively with the Franks and Marys of this world and this season.

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