October 11, 2010 ~ November 9, 2010
Dubbo (pronounced “Dub-O"), New South Wales- our new home for a little over a month. We have a job thinning peaches at Sunnyside Orchard.
In our month here, we made ourselves a little home on the Terramungamine Reserve. It’s a free camping spot by the Macquarie river., and it’s only about 10km north of Dubbo. Our first impression of this freebie wasn’t the greatest. It is a large park reserve, though camping is only allowed in the carpark area, and it’s usually filled with more than a dozen caravans. As time passed by and we got used to it, we could kind of refer to it as “home.”
After long sweaty days at work, we started showering in a free truck stop toilet/shower room. Only the men’s side has the shower facility, so Erica sneaks in behind my signal that the coast is clear. It’s as clean as you could imagine a truck stop shower to be, but the water is hot and welcoming after a hard day’s work. One day, we saw another couple pull the “check and signal” routine- just minutes before were about to go in ourselves, so we had to blow some time until the showers were free. We came back half an hour later, and we could hear that they were almost done- belt buckles fastening, feet shuffling. We waited outside when a man in a Caltex (the station’s name) shirt angrily and abruptly asked us if we were waiting for the showers. We automatically replied a drawn out, ‘Australian,’ “yea,” before we had any time to think. He snapped back that the showers were for truckers only or else it’s $4 each!. Taken aback, we retreated to the car with our shower supplies unsure of what to do next. We really didn’t want to pay for showers…$4 per person is $8...that adds up to over $50 a week for showers, and we still had about 3 more weeks of work… Eeek!!
It ’s a long day at work, and we’re itching from peach fuzz and sweat under the beating sun… let’s just pay up and worry about ‘free’ tomorrow. During our fully legit, un-sneaky, paid shower, I came up with an idea. As I soaped myself down and stared at the cobwebs hanging from above, the grime on the walls, and the dirt and bugs on the ground, it hit me.
“What do you think… if we offered to clean these showers and toilets once a week in exchange for free showers?”
Erica squinted at me to see if I was joking- I was not. A moment of silence passed by as Erica took the time to consider it.
“Will they do it?”
“Nothing ventured nothing gained” I clichéd aloud.
We cleaned up, I trimmed my beard, and we sorted ourselves out. We both pictured how our conversation with this hostile man could possibly go. Rehearsed and ready, we walked into the store and waited in line to talk to him. I sized him up, he didn’t look so mean anymore, but I mean, we did pay and all., so…
We started chatting with the man and we explained we were backpackers, and we didn’t want to pay for showers, but we were keen to clean. He didn’t understand at first what we were trying to say, he goes on to mention something offensive like “this shower is not for people your type,” we could only assume that means non-truckers. But once we reached a mutual understanding that we would clean the truck stop toilet and showers, without hesitation he replied “deal!”
We successfully traded clean for clean!
Though we must admit, the first couple of cleans took much hard work, but now that Caltex truck stop could probably win the clean toilet/shower award.
Village Pies- Best pie in Australia! They've won the National Best Pie Award twice