A bit of a whinge

We’re still cut off, as you’d expect, with the bridges being underwater and sideways and all. Council estimates a week. This does not help me get to Melbourne.

One of our neighbours is on the other side with her car, so we might be able to get a lift into town on Saturday if we can cross the raging Caparra Creek, but I only have enough Lexies to last me until next Thursday, so I emailed the council to see how I could get some more, who told me to ring the SES. They told me three times, in fact, which is excellent (I am not actually being sarcastic here)

So I called the SES.

“In order to direct your call,” said the friendly automated voice, “please say the name of the suburb where assistance is required.”

So I said “Caparra”.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that.”


“Did you mean Kotara? Please say yes or no.”


Kotara is a suburb of Newcastle and is about two hours away. We’ve already suffered once from the confusion of names, when the driver bringing up our storage container called to say he was in Maitland and would be arriving soon.

“In order to direct your call, please say the name of the suburb where assistance is required.”

“Ca – pa – rra.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand. Clearly you need to speak to an actual person.”

The actual person had no idea what Caparra Road was (but we were on the ABC news!) but gave me the number of the roads people so I could find out more about it.

So I called the SES back. This time I was prepared and I said “Wingham”.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that.”

Eventually I found that you can enter your postcode and it will tell you the closest SES office. It turns out there are four, but this time when I said Wingham it understood me. Possibly the exasperation helped.

The nice lady at Wingham said that I should call the stores or get online or something and then ring back for my reference number. And she couldn’t give me the direct SES number, because either they don’t have one or it’s against policy, which is unfortunate.

So I called Coles.

“Hi, my name’s Cal, I’m one of the residents affected by the Caparra Road closure. I believe you’re doing grocery deliveries for the SES to pick up?”

I know this is what I said because I said it to three people in quick succession. The first had no idea what the situation was, and transferred me to her manager. The manager was dubious because they’d already done a delivery today, but she transferred me to Jodie (not her real name) who was handling the deliveries. Jodie (nhrn) told me I would need a reference number from the SES, and I couldn’t email but would have to recite my order over the phone, and I’d have to pay by cheque because unfortunately Coles can’t do credit cards over the phone. And she was dubious because they’d already done a delivery today and she didn’t know if they were doing any more.

I haven’t called the SES back yet. I’m not sure I can face it.

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