From: Stacey Marchenkova
To: Dom Borax
Sent: Sunday July 15th July 1999, 2:51 AM
Subject: Had an adventure
Dom, I have to tell what happened to me today…there I was in the this large office in the Guide Dogs for the Blind building in Wharf Street…each cubicle was filled with canvassers guilt tripping strangers and trying to sell items that no one really ever wants… “You can see. They can’t. Buy a scented candle…”
Anyway…it was about 3:00 in the afternoon…I had my torn page of the telephone directory in front of me…I had a ‘W’ page and was systematically working my way through, scratching off each name with each rejection…It had not been a good day…I had only sold a set of barbeque tools…and three calendars of posed Guide Dogs re-enacting scenes from famous films…you know…like…
--two guide dogs standing on the bow of the Titanic, looking toward their future…
--A Guide Dog, gumping it up and sitting on a park bench with a box of chocolates in front of it…
--A Guide dog poking his head through the axe splintered bathroom door like Jack Nicholson in The Shining…
Okay I made that last one up…but…for some reason this day had been really hard…it was driving me crazy and I had become truly defeated and insecure because of the barrage of rejections…I mean, I know it isn’t personal…canvassing is annoying and most people hate to be bothered with unsolicited calls…I do after all…I know what it’s like……but sometimes…on those grey days…it gets to you…I mean…when over one hundred people…for a brief second…hate you …what’s a girl to think?
So it was with this lump of loss that I cautiously rang BC Williams in Paddington…As he picked up, I knew he was going to cut me off in seconds and onward I’d go into this severing hell of continuing low self esteem…so – with no energy and a pitchless tambre…I started with the sanctioned and mandatory introduction constructed by some Guide Dog Bureaucrat…I knew it by heart now…
“Hello, Mr Williams? My name is Stacey and I’m from the Guide Dogs for the Blind. How are you this afternoon?”
Now at this point I usually hear the click of the phone hanging up or a multitude of replies based around a common and vulgar theme…But this time, I got a different answer…
“I’m good Stacey. How are you?”I couldn’t believe it…someone was being nice…so I quickly put down the hovering pencil that was close to scratching his name out of the telephone directory and replied…
“I’m good…thanks so much for asking…no one ever asks…usually they hang up…
”“Well that’s not right.” He says…
“No it’s not, Mr Williams…” I reply.
“Call me Bill.” He says. “So how can I help you this afternoon, Stacey?”
“Well, Bill…I’m trying to raise money for the Guide Dogs. It’s for training. Would you be interested in making a blind person’s life easier?”
“Of course I would,” says Bill, “What would you like me to buy?”
“Well you can make a small offering and buy a set of beautiful, specially designed tea towels. You get three for thirty dollars and they’re really tasteful…I have some in my own kitchen.”
“But will thirty dollars really make a difference?”
“Every bit helps, Bill.”
“What’s your most expensive item?” He asks.
“Well we have this cotton underlay from Jason that keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer.”
“That sounds good. How much is that?”
“Three hundred and fifty dollars.”
“I know it’s a lot of money.”
“I’ll buy two.”
“Okay make it three.”
I couldn’t believe my luck…I quickly got out of pad and starting taking his details before he changed his mind…I got his full name, credit card number…everything…and in one short call I had made well over my daily quota…after I finished gathering the information, I prepared to say my final thanks when Bill said…
“So has that made your day a better one?”
I replied that it had and launched into my final thanks.“
That’s good. I am so glad to have done something decent on my last day. Thank you, Stacey.”
And he hung up…no goodbye…he just hung up…and I was left with the declaration that this was his last day…what did he mean…? Last day for what…? Last day of the holidays…? Last day of smoking…? Last day of life? My God, was BC Williams of Paddington trying to kill himself? Was this his call for help? Am I meant to help him? Is this what this day’s about?
I quickly rustled through his details and got his address…I handed in my sales dockets to the manager and checked out…I didn’t have much money…just enough for a taxi…I jumped into the taxi and anxiously pleaded to the driver to make it quick…
Soon after I arrived at BC Williams house in Paddington…it was a nice house…a renovated Queenslander decked out in federation colours with a well kept wrap around veranda…the Garden was decent too…a green thumb with a lovely sense if symmetry had obviously beavered away with a desperate eye of perfection…
I slowly moved through the garden and approached the front door...but as I reached it…I thought; am I crazy for doing this…? It is a little obsessive…what if it was nothing…? What if it was innocent and now this sad sack from Guide Dogs was about to invade a stranger’s life…I should leave…I should leave now before it gets truly mad…I started to back off…but as I did I thought…but if he is trying to kill himself…I might be able to help him and if I weigh it up…I’m willing to be viewed as a stalker on the off chance that this man was preparing to truly slip away…
So I knocked on the door…I waited…I could here the soft slap of loafers as they padded down the wooden hallway…they neared the front door…I took a breath…the door opened…
“Bill?” I asked.
Bill stood in the doorway of the home. He was a man in his early forties. He was little portly. His clothes where neat and perfect. His hair was shining in the dust infused afternoon sun that echoed through the hallway from the rear living room window. His face was kind and recently shaved with two small patches of stumble below the chin. His nose was strong and his eyes were cloudy. The colour had gone completely. He was blind.
“Yes.” He said.
“I’m Stacey.” Bills eyes shut a little trying to place the name, “From the Guide Dogs.”
Bill was seeing vividly with his eyes closed.”Yes, Stacey, of course! How lovely to meet you. Are you here to sell me dog this time?” Bill’s eyes opened. There was no change. The gossamer sheen lingered.
“No.” I said a little nervously trying not to look at his milky eyes.
“Are you here with my underlays? That was quick.”
I started to feel awkward. He didn’t seem suicidal. He seemed normal, happy even. What was I doing here!?
“No, I’m not here with the underlays.”
“Do you want more money? If it’ll make your day easier, I’m happy to buy a couple of tea towels too.”
“No, I don’t want more money. I just wanted to ask; are you okay?”
“Well I’m fine. Thank you for asking. But you didn’t have to come all this way to ask. You have my number.”
At this point I heard a woman’s voice calling from the back of the house.“Bill, make sure you have your passport.”
A woman, also in her early forties emerged into the hallway…slimmer than Bill…she was also perfectly groomed with just the right amount of design in her fashion…
“Darling…this is Stacey from the Guide Dogs for the Blind…she popped by to ask if I was okay. Stacey this is my wife, Katherine.”
I started to feel awkward as Bill’s wife approached me.
“That’s kind of you. I didn’t realise Guide Dogs had such great customer service.” She said.
Bill put his arm around Katherine and smiled genuinely at me. “Well to answer your question, Stacey. I am fine. I’m a little sad. You probably picked that up on the phone didn’t you?”
“I did.” I replied. “Why are you sad?”
“It’s my last day in Brisbane.” Bill said.
“He’s going to Berlin.” Katherine clarified. “Work. And a new life.”“He loves Brisbane.”
“Love and hate it.”
“And you’re sad because you won’t be together for a few months, right.” Said Katherine as her eyes peered over her glasses, wryly challenging.
“Of course, darling.” said Bill playfully.
Katherine hit him on the shoulder with the affection of a wife and true friend. Bill laughed.
“So why aren’t you going with him?” I asked Katherine, starting to feel a rush of embarrassment.
“We just sold the house and I’m waiting for settlement. Then I have to finish up with my job. Get the kids out of school. Fix up the Storage. Wait patiently for those woollen underlays to be posted.” Katherine said, again looking over her glasses at Bill as he stared ahead.
“Ah, but those woollen underlays will come in handy for the Berlin winter. They really keep you warm in winter don’t they, Stacey?” asked Bill.
“Yes they do. They do.”
We talked for another five minutes…all very polite…eventually I quietly excused myself with a lie…
“Well I should get back to work.”
Bill and Katherine nodded. They thanked me for my concern and waved me goodbye as I walked out of their property and back onto the bustling gentrified streets of inner city Paddington.
And as I passed the large Antique centre…I started to cry…a sense of sadness welled over me unlike I’ve ever felt…was this my lot? Was this it? Did I truly have to manufacture drama out of other’s people’s happiness just to feel alive…?
So I rang the guide dogs…quit my job…I can only take so much rejection…I called Marcus…met him…dumped him…I mean it’s only been two months and it's already hard work…I then rang my father…told him that he’s one of the worst fathers ever…then I rang my mother and told her I loved her…finally I came home…counted my money…worked out I needed just a little bit more for a one way ticket to Asia and started writing to you…
And now I feel happy…I really feel happy…
PS I wouldn’t mind living in Berlin too…one day. Would you like to live anywhere else?