Flying out of a snit and into tranquility
Flying over Melbourne in a hot air balloon has been on my ‘to do’ list for a very long time. From the moment I set out on my mission that would ultimately see me float over the beautiful city of Melbourne in a basket of tranquility, I never dreamed that it in order to get there, I would go through three years, seven attempts, two companies and a bunch of lawyers.
Christmas of 2009 is where it started. The very year that saw the Black Saturday bush fires produce it’s ring of fire around my beloved city and lowest rainfalls on record ever. It was a Christmas present from my family. A gift certificate. Best. Present. Ever! Little did I know that the following year, the one following those disastrous fires, would see Victoria’s record-breaking 10 year drought finally break in a rainsplosion of epic proportions and Melbourne would be soaked with month after month of flash flooding and wild weather. This untimely twist of fate saw my first five booking dates end with sorrowful messages from the company comprising apologies for the cancellation. My luck tends to run that way a lot. I’m kinda of used to it, so I deal.
My state of unlucky would continue into late 2011. When the date for booking 6 came along, I dared to hope. This, in retrospect, was stupid. Melbourne had started to produce less crazy weather days than the months before it and despite the weather predictions looking a little ominous for the flight, there was hope. At 6:15pm the night before, I dutifully called the messaging service with the hope that the message would be a positive one. I got what I ultimately expected. This is, after all, me and my luck we’re dealing with here. The message told me that the company wasn’t positive one way or the other and to call again at 4:15am the following morning for a final decision. I should point out now that I am not a morning person. Nor do I live close to the meeting point. To get to the meeting point by the designated time of 5:00am, I must be in my car no later than 4:30am. I am no different to any other female, so 15 minutes is no where near enough time to get my sleepy self out of bed, into the shower an plied with enough coffee to prevent me from falling asleep on the road heading to the venue. So I am resigned to being ready to go before I call to see if the flight will go ahead. I am also resigned to the fact that if the flight is cancelled, I won’t be able to go back to sleep. Once I’m up and showered, I’m awake and nothing can change that. It just how I roll.
At 4:15am I was very relieved to hear that the flight was going ahead. I’m exited now. Very excited. So me and my car head across to the other side of the city to the meeting point. Upon my arrival, the air is tense. The men in charge whisper in quiet tones so no one can hear what is being said. They are pressing buttons furiously on their gadget thingies. I go outside and its windy. Very windy. I know what is about to befall our little group. From the looks on their faces, so do they. We wait a long time. When the news and apologies come, I slink my grumpy arse into my car quietly and head home. I resorted to the pitiful act of having a glass of wine when I got home in the hope it will help me get some additional shut eye. It didn’t.
The low point finally came a month later, when I went to re-book for flight attempt number 7. The phone number for the company has been disconnected. A look on their website showed that company had gone into voluntary administration. The business was closed and sale of their equipment was pending. The letter the solicitor sent me later that day was simple, clinical and terse. There would be no money to allocated to refund those who had unfulfilled bookings. All money would go to staff entitlements and other creditors. While I would never ever wish to see a situation where my entertainment was prioritised above the salary entitlements of the staff, I went on a two-day tear fueled by my own disappointment and on behalf of my family who now had a $420 hole burned into their pocket. No one except those who are close to me spoke to me during that time. They didn’t dare.
It wasn’t until late 2011 when I was finally over my snit enough to seek out another company and try again. Last weekend, I finally achieved my long awaited city flight. And on the first booking attempt too!
Was it worth it in the end? Minus all the drama I went though to get there, very much so.