Saturday, 28 June 2008

We don't give out guest's details

A couple of weeks ago the daughter of a friend of ours from Portrush, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland arrived in New Zealand. We sort of knew she was coming and were looking forward to seeing her. P knew her as a child and her father asked us to make contact when she got here.

We got this mad e-mail from the UK saying that she had finished her exams and had had a messy session in the pub and she was now packing her things while her travelling companion was dying his hair grey in the sitting-room. Must be a young fogey, I thought. No travel details and worryingly the mail was full of lolspeak

Two days later we got an e-mail from Christchurch, New Zealand announcing that she and her travelling companion were in a hostel with a phone but no mention of the phone number or the name of the hostel. She did include her mobile number and a suggestion that we should txt her.
P duly txted the child (a very recent law graduate, which is not readily apparent from her writing style ... lol) and then we waited and waited and waited ...

A day and a half later we get another mail saying she hadn't heard from us and she'd just topped up her phone logged in to her email account and seen a mail from us saying we hadn't heard anything since she txted us and she was now in Dunedin lol. She and her travelling companion (echoes of Graceland) were in a backpackers near the Octagon and she and he were of to the peninsula today with someone they met the night before who had a car and could we meet up later lol.

Not a bother we thought. But where was she staying? We still haven't had any direct communication with the lass. Anyway we sent her our phone number and address and waited and waited ...

Next day we sent her a mail saying we still hadn't heard from her and gave her directions to the market at the railway station. After market, P hadn't seen or recognised a small northern irish girl (people do change over ten years and I was no help because I'd never seen her) we thought rather than do nothing we would head up around the Octagon and check a few of the backpacker hostels.

The first one we went to said they didn't give out details of guests. Pardon us? Apparently the question 'Do you have a young friend from Ireland by the name of [name withheld] staying here?' may not be answered. Someone lurking in the background (the manager, as it turned out) who had perfected his shifty, drug dealer, pimp look came over to repeat 'We don't give out details of guests.'

We tried a couple more hostels - they answered the question without fear of breaching an, to us, unknown privacy protocol. We went home, but not before sitting beside Burns' statue and eating a lump of chocolate-y goodness from a well known stall in the Farmers Market.

Later that day we got an excited email from lol to say she had organised a party of other backpacker guests to search for us down in the market. They did this apparently by walking round and shouting out P's name. If you know what P's initial stands for you'd have thought someone had lost a parrot. Also the grey haired young fogey announced their whereabouts by having our names called out over the railway announcement system (I didn't know they still had one lol). But dear me we had gone back home by this time.

But back to the email. They had now left Dunedin and had gone to Queenstown and wouldn't be back this way. P mailed lol's father in Ireland and he said 'don't worry she's always like this' and included in his reply a mail from her explaining how she had forgotten to get the bank in the UK to lift her $50 a day cap and she had funds somewhere but they hadn't been transferred yet as far as she could see lol not that she could do internet banking yet lol and could he loan her the money that was missing in transfer somewhere in cyberspace just till she gets home to sort it out lol.

I'm sure lol and her grey haired fogey would have made entertaining guests for five minutes before I started calling the Old Fogey's Helpline lol.

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