Saturday, 27 July 2013

How Worrying Can Save Your Life

Picture this: It's a chilly winter's morning as you get in your car to drive to work. The windscreen is frozen over but the sun is starting to come out  as you drive out of the tiny hamlet you call home and it looks like it's going to be a lovely day. A few kilometres out of town you unexpectedly hit a thick blanket of fog, but it only lasts for a few seconds. There are a few more patches but they don't faze you as you've driven through plenty of fog before and you actually like the eeriness of it. It makes everything seem so ghostly and ethereal. You can almost see the headless horseman or some other phantom creature looming out of the mist. The road you take to work is a two lane highway that serves as a major trucking route between two states. Semi-trailers roar up and down it but you've never had any close calls before. The biggest problem on this stretch are the kangaroos whose mangled carcasses litter the side of the road .

You drive along enjoying the beautiful scenery which is very green after a week of rain that has given the farmers cause to rejoice. Your good mood is marred a little by the news on the radio. A high speed train has crashed in Spain killing at least 70 people. About 10 kilometres from your destination you suddenly come into a much thicker patch of fog that lasts longer than the rest. There's a break in the fog and you speed up because you're running a bit late. As you emerge from it you see a strange sight in front of you. It looks like a truck. On the wrong side of the road. Heading straight towards you. You have about three seconds to make your decision. There's really only one decision to make because the truck is in the middle of overtaking a car and there's nowhere for it to go. Doing over 100 kilometres an hour you are forced completely off the road and onto the dirt shoulder. The truck whizzes past, missing you by metres. You are in a state of shock as you move back onto the road, not realising how fast you are still travelling. The car fishtails a couple of times before you get it under control and you continue on your way to work. 15 minutes later you are standing behind the counter serving people and trying to stop your hands from shaking 

That was my day on Thursday, and here's why I believe it pays sometimes to be a worrier. If you have a tendency to expect the worst then chances are you have played all of the worst-case scenarios over in your mind. I'd pictured this exact situation countless times on my 55km trip to work so that when it did happen I was ready to take action instead of becoming paralysed by fear.

Worriers are the best people to be around in a crisis because we have already scoped out all the emergency exits and know where the first aid kit is kept. We're less shocked than anyone else when bad things happen because we've been expecting them for so long. We were the kids who had our own personal fire evacuation drill worked out in our heads, knew what we'd do if an intruder broke into the house in the middle of the night to kidnap us and had a secret weapon stashed in our room in case our family turned into a pack of flesh-eating zombies. We know the best place to hide out in a nuclear attack or alien invasion and our cupboard is always well-stocked with tinned food and candles. We have a morbid fascination with shows like I Shouldn't Be Alive and take note of all the survival techniques so we are prepared if (when) we find ourselves lost and alone in the Amazon jungle or with a broken leg on the rim of an erupting volcano. We also know how to bribe officials in Indonesia if we are ever accused of drug smuggling in that country. (Tip: Never go to the media).

Worriers are constantly told to relax and chill out because stress kills, but I'm here to tell you that worrying isn't always a bad thing and sometimes it can even save your life. So for all the worriers out there stop worrying about worrying and accept that it's your nature to consider every possible eventuality, which in turn makes you more prepared than others for what lies ahead. Of course I'm talking about the looming financial meltdown and breakdown of our civilization which we worriers know is just around the corner. Or is it the massive earthquakes and accompanying tsunamis that will spell the end of life as we know it? Either way we will be ready.

Don't Always Look On the Bright Side of Life

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Goodbye Monorail.....Hello Monstrosity

In my opinion the monorail in Sydney has been an iconic feature of the city for many years. I can still remember how thrilling it was to step onto this strange, space-age looking vehicle and glide over the city streets for the very first time. It seemed society was one step closer to that futuristic world from the Jetson's cartoons that I loved so much as a kid. Sydney has never looked better than it did from that angle. You got a bird's eye view of the street below and glimpses into secret worlds of offices and apartment blocks that made me so curious about those who inhabited these spaces. As 'city' people I imagined they must lead very exciting and glamorous lives.

One of my favourite parts of the monorail ride was the moment it emerged from the city streets into the splendour that was Darling Harbour. Back then I looked on Darling Harbour as a cosmopolitan mecca, bustling with people from all around the world. The fact that the only thing to do there was eat bad food and buy over-priced and tacky souvenirs didn't bother me in the least.

The monorail was built in 1988 and it was almost a decade later that I moved to Sydney for the first time. I lived in Pyrmont and had to travel to Surry Hills for work. The most convenient way of  doing this was to catch the monorail and then walk up Oxford St. Suddenly I was one of those 'city' people I had stared at in awe as a girl from Newcastle. I could now look down my nose at the tourists who oohhhed and ahhhed from the monorail because I took it to work every day!

Despite my attempts to be sophisticated and city-like, the monorail never lost its magic for me. I'd still do the circuit three times some days just because I enjoyed it so much. The fact that I was sharing a bedroom in an apartment with someone I barely knew might also have had something to do with my reluctance to go home, but the monorail will always have a special place in my heart. It was with great sadness that I read about its impending demise, although it's been on the cards for a while now.

I must admit I was shocked when I learned of the hostility many people feel towards the monorail. They claim it is an eye-sore, that it's inefficient and expensive to run. It will apparently be replaced by light rail, but no matter how light this rail is it will never capture that feeling of soaring above the crowds and traffic that the monorail did. I for one will miss the monorail, and regret that it wasn't appreciated as it should have been in its time. Will future generations condemn us for not keeping this iconic structure that has been part of Sydney for nearly three decades?

Speaking of eye-sores I also regret the decision by the state government to proceed with the rape of Barangaroo. To allow James Packer build a second casino in Sydney is a complete travesty. The whole process to approve this obscenity reeks of corruption and greed, but what else can you expect from the O'Farrell government and trough-swilling Neanderthals like Packer? They at least are predictable, but what bothers me is the lack of public opposition to the development. This is not the government's land to give away, it belongs to the people of Sydney, and I think it's time they were reminded of this! Australia is not Dubai and I seriously doubt that most people want one of the most prominent buildings in Sydney to be a monument to greed, stupidity and the social scourge that is gambling.

An artist's impression of the development at Barangaroo....It's very subtle so you might not be able to pick it out straight away. Hint: Unlike the O'Farrell government it's on the left.