When I pulled into Carnarvon I was quite enthusiastic about my suntan. I winked at myself in the mirror, picturing all the magazine covers I could grace. Then I had a shower and realized I was just really dirty.
Now I’m back to my sugary-white self and in the midst of a housekeeping day of sorts.
Apparently I haven’t done laundry since Derby, which is 1,600 km up the road. My sleeping bag was fast becoming a biological weapon and my cycling shorts were on the verge of running away on their own. Two-dollar soap and 90 cent clothespins averted that little crisis.
Upon further inspection, my larder was found to be seriously wanting. I had some couscous dust, a quarter cup of oatmeal and a lonely can of pork and beans that I have no intention of eating. Ever.
So off I went to the local Woolworths, a psychedelic experience as always. After staring at outback for a week, the fluorescent lighting and Top 40 music of the mall is enough to blow my mind. I wandered wide-eyed through every aisle, stopping to marvel at 30 per cent beefier hot dogs and blowout deals on pantyhose.
People tend to give me a wide berth at the grocery store. I used to think it was because my rugged masculinity overwhelmed them, but now I’m pretty sure it’s because I talk to myself.
It’s how I keep from going crazy on the road. I tell myself jokes or sing and the burden of the task melts away before me. I just haven’t found the on/off switch yet. So I’m that guy in the soup section, having raving arguments with myself over sodium content and price per liter.
I must be doing something right, though. When I left the store a guy pumped my hand because he’d seen me on the highway the day before.
“You’re bloody mad! I love what you’re doing, mate!”
He stuffed a $50 note in my pocket and was gone. I was left standing there, absolutely gobsmacked with my bag of beefy hot dogs.
A wise man would mark that money as a nest egg. I called it six pints, and as I sat at the bar it occurred to me that one day people might pay me to do exactly what I’m doing right now.
Until then I’ll be the hobo with the greatest tan in town.