600. Sunday 1st April 2018. Commonwealth Games driving, a big surprise party and family all around…

Monday 26th March

Another day as driver for the Commonwealth Games. It seems that although most of the athletes and officials have not all arrived, the daily increases in security and road and lane closures are increasing.

310318 uniform
Official uniform. The shorts are also trousers. The trouser legs can be unzipped to make shorts.

The annoying part about being a driver is for each shift, there are several shift as a day, for my depot alone, there are around 60 drivers. As yet there is little demand for drivers so most are sitting around all day getting grumpy as they are not doing what they volunteered and trained to do.

waiting
I never have a great deal of faith in photos taken on an mobile camera. They just never seem to be as sharp as I can get with a big camera. This is the scene at Commonwealth Games Athletes Village Driver crew base.

I managed to get a job of driving the Jamaican Team Manager to Coolangatta Airport to collect an athlete and bring him back to the village for issuance of accreditation and room assignment. Next, I had a two hour shift at the Sheraton Grande Mirage waiting for a games family member needing a driver.

None did.

sheraton
Sheraton Grande Mirage Hotel. OR, as it is known during the Commonwealth Games, The Games Family Hotel.

Next I drove two Australian Media officials to Coolangatta Airport to meet the Australian Boxing Team. Those boxers were bussed to the Games Village so I drove there as well albeit with no passengers.

In the meantime Donnis and some family members hired a houseboat and escaped for three nights on The Broadwater.

houseboat
Out on The Broadwater in a hired houseboat.

Half their luck.

Tuesday 27th March

Had the stitches removed from my nose and had another cancer removed from my back. Ouch! Another 5 stitches.

It was Doug’s Birthday. (he is Donnis brother in law from Canada) So tonight I joined Linda and Doug and Peggy and Fred at Southport Surf Life Saving Club for dinner. It was “Members Night” which involves a draw of a member number. The prize was $9,200. The member was not present so the jackpot increases to $9,300 next week. The place was crowded but once the draw was over most people left. It was still noisy.

We had some heavy rain in the evening and our thoughts strayed briefly to those spending the night on the houseboat.

Wednesday 28th March

I had a late afternoon shift for the Commonwealth Games. Much like other days, about 60 of us sat around waiting to be called to drive. A new system is in place. Each driver is issued with a number. They call a number, issue keys and when you return, the keys are handed in. When a driver is required the next number is called. Although the system makes sense there are still not enough athletes in the village at the moment to need 60 drivers. To relieve the boredom of waiting some of us were given keys to choose a destination and take a partner and drive. My partner drove to Coolangatta Airport. When we arrived back at the depot we sat around until our shifts ended at 1am. Grrrr!. Waiting to be a driver can be so frustrating.

Friday 30th March

Donnis and family went to Seaworld for the day.

party
On Good Friday we had a Hot Cross Bun morning and Donnis niece Simone joined us.

I have been holding a secret for 5 months. The reason why most of Donnis family arrived was to surprise her with a big birthday party which included some of my family and some of her friends from years gone by. I pretended we were meeting the family at the surf club for dinner but stopped at our clubhouse with the excuse I had to see somebody inside. Donnis said she would wait in the car. I insisted she come inside with me. The clubhouse lights were off and once inside 35 people errupted with “Surprise” from where they were hiding. The party went from 6pm to 10pm and was a big hit. Donnis daughter Alecia organised the party, the guests, the timing and the caterers via on-line from Canada. An amazing job. Was Donnis surprised? The look on her face was a bit mask like rather than surprised. She took it all in her stride and managed to circulate and talk with every guest. I kept the secret.

 

Saturday 31st March

home
Breakfast at home the morning after the surprise party.

Another late shift with the Commonwealth Games.

In case I have not mentioned this before, here are some facts about the games.

* 60 competing nations and territories will take part in the Gold Coast Games

* It’s the 5th time Australia has staged the Commonwealth Games

* 18 sports, including 7 para-sports, will offer 275 gold medals.

* 6600 athletes and team officials will travel to the Gold Coast.

* 3500 accredited and non-accredited media will cover the Games.

* The Games are estimated to have a $2 billion economic impact on the Gold Coast and Queensland

* $320 million has been invested in sport and community infrastructure.

* Four sources of funding to deliver the Games. Qld Govt – $1.507b, Fed Govt – $156m, Gold Coast City Council – $115m, commercial income from sponsorship, ticket sales, licensing and merchandising – $240m.

* Games will generate 30,000 full-time equivalent jobs across various sectors.

* Over one million spectators to watch the Games across 18 venues located on the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville.

* 350 cameras set to broadcast 1100 hours of live sport.

* 15,000 volunteers to be selected from 47,000 applications.

 

Tonight I drove a team manager of Lesotho from the games to her accommodation.  The Kingdom, landlocked within Africa, has a population of 2.2 million people. The manager was just amazed at how big the Gold Coast is and how friendly are the people. The other aspect which impressed her was the security arrangements which are quite visual and even in your face. She is grateful for the security so they can compete in safety.

Later in the night I drove another official, this time from Nigeria who was enthused about how beautiful the Gold Coast is. He also considers the security visibility is important to the athletes and gives them a great sense of safety. His job was to ensure all athletes are in their rooms by 9pm before he returns to his accommodation. I asked about the reported thousands of condoms handed out to athletes on arrival. He laughed and said he has to ensure athletes are in their rooms when HE leaves. What they get up to after that was a matter for them.

So far all the visitors have spoken good to excellent English.

Getting into and even out of venues requires multiple security checks. After awhile it becomes routine for the drivers and the passengers.

Tonight there are more road and lane closures as we get closer to the games opening on 4th April.

The Police have a drone, equipped with guns hovering over the games village. Earlier this week an unauthorised drone was shot down.

Sunday 1st April

Yay! Today was just a lazy stay at home day without direction or effort. Most of our visitors have gone away for a day and it was just good to simply do nothing.

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