Tomorrow is my last day in Arrowtown. It’s also my last day at the bakery, and my last day (at least for the foreseeable future) as an actual local somewhere. It’s hard to imagine the things you’ll actually miss when you’re spending the afternoon hours, as I am on this sunny Saturday, putting your hard-learned sheet-folding skills to the test one last time. Conversely, it’s easy to list the things you won’t. But, in an attempt to give Arrowtown the proper farewell it merits, I’ll give both a shot.
Things I Will Not Miss (in no particular order)
- The town fire alarm. You know how most places – buildings, schools, offices – have their own fire alarms? Arrowtown has a town fire alarm that, I assume, is supposed to summon everyone from the volunteer fire brigade to the dead to attention. When the unmistakable siren goes off, it sounds as if we’re about to undergo a German air raid. Judging by the frequency of the alarms, it sounds each time someone in town burns a slice of toast or lights a candle. This morning it woke us up twice before 6:00 a.m.
- Bakery customers — usually old men — who think it’s perfectly acceptable to refer to me as “love.” As in “Better grab me a couple of steak pies, love.”
- Living like this:
- Waiting for the last bus back from the grocery store at 9:20 p.m. with nine pounds of frozen vegetables.
- Folding laundry. Good God. Folding laundry.
- Custard squares.
- Tourists who hold out palmfuls of change and expect me to count out what they owe for their pies right out of their hands. Unless you are crippled, blind, or under the age of five, I am not digging around in your filthy mitts for change.
- Busloads of 18-year-old tourists. Picture this: the driver of a Kiwi Experience bus – which holds, conservatively, 50 broke, hungry, and notoriously rowdy young Europeans – decides to stop for lunch in Arrowtown. He casually mentions to his charges that that little bakery down at the end of the street – right down there, the one with standing room for about five people and only two girls working the registers – makes the best pies in New Zealand. And that, furthermore, his favorite pie is the hot ‘n spicy chicken. Which every single passenger should buy before the bus takes off for its next destination exactly 20 minutes from now. Now picture the absolute deluge (if I were going for honesty over general appropriateness here, I’d really use a term that, um, rhymes with “bluster-muck,”) of unwashed teenagers that descend out of nowhere to jam themselves into your place of work, each one demanding a hot ‘n spicy chicken pie, of which you have exactly three, and then holding out greasy paws full of 10-cent coins for you to count. To cap it off, imagine the bus driver heading up the front of the line with a cockily magnanimous grin, informing you that this bluster-muck is all thanks to him, and, hey, shouldn’t you really be thanking him with a couple of free hot ‘n spicy pies for the road?
Things I May Sorta Kinda Miss (if we’re getting sappy here)
- Even when I have to get up pre-dawn to go to work, my commute still looks like this:
- Speaking of work: compensating for my constant lack of groceries by ordering huge free lunches at the cafe.
- My favorite bar, where, if I park myself on the sofa for long enough, I’m guaranteed a beer on the house from the owner, free reign over the fire poker and stash of logs and, God bless ’em, unlimited free internet.
- The fact that, when you least expect it, post-work drinks at the sleepy neighborhood pub can turn into this:
- The fact that the whole town will stop functioning and dash out to the sidewalks for a parade. Even when there is exactly one group marching in it.
- Nightly runs on trails so deserted I can actually sing aloud to my iPod playlist without worry of anyone hearing me.
- The fact that, no matter how many times I see this view, I can’t move on without taking a dozen new pictures of it: