Tag: Nigeria

602. Sunday 15th April 2018. Commonwealth Games positives and negatives….

Monday 9th April

A Commonwealth Games Driver depot workmate, Ross, gave me a Quilpie Boulder Opal Pendant.   http://www.gemstory.com.au/boulder-opal-field-quilpie.html    I should mention that Ross fossicked for the small pebbles, cleaned them, polished them and attached a cord so it can be hung around the neck.

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Fellow driver Ross knows how to relax.

The pebbles have a thin vein of opal running through them. Especially when wet, the opal fire of red, blue, yellow, green and purple flash their colours when moved in light.  Quilpie is about 1,000 Klms west of Brisbane, located in a harsh arid landscape on the edge of the desert. I gave the pendant to Donnis sister Joan as a reminder of her time visiting from Canada.

Tuesday 10th April

Up early at 4am for a 6am start at the Commonwealth Games. Also up early was Joan, packing her bags. After Donnis dropped me at the Games shuttle bus service she then had to take Joan to Brisbane airport for her return to Canada.

On arrival at the depot I was handed two folders, each containing car key, phone and a country flag. One folder for Malaysia and one for Samoa. After almost 4 hours without either team booking a car I called each of them. Malaysia seemed a bit stunned there was a car set aside for them while Samoa said they would need a car within 2 hours. Just as I took a sip of my coffee and a bite of muffin, Malaysia called and made a booking so I drove 500 metres to collect them. After waiting 10 minutes past the meet time they called and cancelled. It seems the team decided to catch the light rail which runs past the gates. Grrr! I drove 500 metres back to base and returned the folder etc. I had already handed back the folder for Samoa. Now I was car less and relegated back to waiting.

My second attempt at a fresh coffee resulted in a sip plus a bite of muffin before I was offered a car to drive a Nigerian team. Well, not team really. The athlete was a 100 metre para sprinter, the rest of the “team” was his team manager and interpretor and an Australian volunteer assigned as local shopping guide and companion. We went shopping for three hours. The Nigerians had a wonderful excursion and were just amazed at the size of the sports store. I pointed out it is a smaller store compared to others. They were astounded by Robina Shopping Centre and the Bag Store had more stock than they have ever seen. I think the range of choice was overwhelming. I arrived back at base in time to finish my shift.

I would like to comment that so far there has been a lot of waiting around for jobs. Mostly the drivers will complain in a light-hearted joking fashion. We all feel the same way. We volunteered to be drivers and we want to drive. Waiting is boring. The only way to deal with it is by good humour, otherwise the annoyance soon becomes anger. Anger becomes infectious and leads to aggression and even quitting. We have three shifts per day and about 60 drivers per shift. In addition to the Games Village Depot there are other depots, Central and North who also have a huge bunch of drivers waiting for work. Now it seems our village TX (basically means taxi) shifts are being taken over by those depots. Our depot is now concentrating on CGA (basically bookable vehicles where the driver stays with the passenger for the length of the booking which sometime includes going to dinner or shopping or even events) bookings.

It seems large organisations use a lot of acronyms. The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games is a large organisation and is no stranger to acronym infection. There are hundreds of acronyms most of which are included in a large book which nobody reads or understands. Lately new acronyms have begun to appear on signposts at various venues. The signs will have several “nyms” ( oh look, I have created my own acronym) with an arrow pointing left while another bunch of “nyms” appear with a right pointing arrow. Drivers look for a “nym” they know and wonder about the rest. So far things have mostly worked.

Still smiling and making jokes with the other drivers. We are having fun and remind ourselves we are.

Thursday 12th April.

Today is Donnis birthday. At last after all the surprise parties and dinners and trips and visits her day finally arrived.

I went to the Commonwealth Games and started at 6am. Before I mention what happened today let me tell you how the day ended. On the shuttle bus back to Runaway Bay the atmosphere amongst the drivers reminded me of the Camp Granada songs by Alan Sherman. ( have a look at the song here   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3_xiUYMnXA   )

The song starts with a young boy writing home to his parents complaining about all the things that have gone wrong at the camp and how the rain will not stop and he wants to come home. Suddenly the sun comes out, the rain has stopped and there are things to do so he now wants to stay. My relationship with Commonwealth Games Fleet has been like that. Nothing was fun and it was waiting waiting waiting and in the beginning, lots of rain. Today we were busy busy busy and my relationship with CGF changed and everybody else on the bus put in a full days work. In fact we all worked an hour beyond our shift and we were enthusiastic.

Now back to my day. It started slow when I was handed two folders containing keys and phone, one folder for Jamaica and one for Bermuda. After two hours of no action I called both Chefs de Mission to remind them I was their driver for the day. Eventually Bermuda called back and we arranged to meet. I handed back the folder for Jamaica to despatch. I had two athletes and an official who wanted to see the Mountain Bike Races at Nerang.

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I was impressed by the quality of the food vendors except the Espresso machine broke down shortly after I got my coffee. They made a nice spicy sausage roll too. Further down the hill was vast sea of food tents.

(one athlete, Tyler, is a marathon runner due to race on Sunday)

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Commonwealth Games Bermuda Marathon runner Tyler Butterfield (he finished 12th) is on the right he bumped into his in-laws at the Mountain Bike track. His mother in-law is the lady in blue beside me. They insisted on a group photo. Apart from Tyler and myself I have no idea who they are although the man at the back in the red shirt is a Bermuda team official. Somehow a Policeman got included. After I drove them back to the village, Tyler mentioned that until the marathon he has to rest. Stay out of the sun, no strenuous exercise, but simply vegging out and focusing.

I agreed to stay with them until they wanted to come back to the Athletes Village. I got to see the ladies race.

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The Australian Ladies Team Competitor, Rebecca McConnell.
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The Australian competitor has just been passed by Canada.
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Canada

Once back at the Games Village Depot Bermuda decided they did not need a car for the rest of the day. Luckily my old partners in crime, Mauritius needed a car to take an athlete to Coolangatta Airport. No, he was not fleeing the country, it was a domestic flight. (By the way there are now 13 athletes who have absconded, 8 from Cameroon, 2 from Uganda, 2 from Sierra Leonne and 1 weightlifting coach from Rwanda. He said he was going to the loo and never returned…One of the Mauritian athletes said, jokingly, I think, that he was going to abscond too. After dropping the airport passenger I dropped two officials at a shopping centre and took two athletes to Greenmount Beach and told them I would be back in an hour. After collecting the shopping officials I went back to the beach but the athletes were missing. One official went looking for the them. The other was not well so we waited. After half an hour I was beginning to wonder if they had all absconded. Eventually they arrived back, apologetic and the official looked relieved to see them again. I arrived back at the depot about an hour late in good spirits because of my busy day.

Friday 13th April…Oh what an ominous sign…Friday 13th!

It started out as a good day. I did not have to start until 4pm and work until 1am. I had breakfast and checked my email. Then the Friday 13th curse struck me. I was gobsmacked. I was stunned. I was angry. I, and many other drivers received an email telling us our Sunday afternoon shift, our last shift and one we were looking forward to was cancelled. Just like that. No discussion no warning. Cancelled. The mood on the shuttle bus was nothing like the buoyant happy people yesterday afternoon. That enthusiasm had evaporated this morning and it was difficult for anybody to make a funny comment.

I met up with fellow drivers, Ross and Keiko. Keiko is Japanese and has lived on the Gold Coast for 16 years.

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Drivers. Myself, Keiko and Ross.

She is a very positive, enthusiastic and funny lady. She is also a marathon runner although did not enter the games. Today one of her passengers was the Australian Chef de Mission, Steve Moneghetti the Australian Gold Medalist Marathon Runner. She was so excited and said it was her dream come true to meet him. They chatted about various events they have competed in and he agreed to have a photo taken with her.

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Friday 13th!!! Ross and I being assigned our final set of keys.

Once again I was given two folders car keys and phones. One for Uganda and one for Rwanda.  I called both Chefs de Mission, left messages and followed up with a text message.

Uganda called back. Please pick up three athletes from Harbour Town Shopping Centre. The three passengers were all squash players and we had a lot to talk about. I was once a very avid squash player (My family might say obsessed). I told them I was their driver until 11 pm and where did they want to go. No nightclubs but they would like a guided tour or a karaoke bar. Well that’s fine with me, I will do either or both. They wanted to have dinner, a shower and get ready to go by 7pm. By 8pm I sent a message to say I was ready for them. They said thanks but by 10pm I had heard nothing. By then I was disappointed and not interested in any more waiting and finishing late. By 10.30pm I found a shuttle bus going my way and jumped out at the lights. My volunteer duties were now complete. All us final night drivers received a gift of a stylised chrome surfboard with some words of thank you which somehow seems a slap in the face at the moment.

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The chrome surfboard issued to all volunteers as a thank you.
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This is my accreditation which includes badges (sometimes called pins) Those on the right are issued by Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018 while those on the left are from various Commonwealth Countries collected as I drove athletes and officials. From bottom to top the are:- Mauritius, Nigeria, Jamaica, Bermuda, Namibia, Botswana

Sunday 15th April

Just watched the closing ceremony of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. It was a bitter disappointment. Even the Channel 7 Commentators complained. They could only broadcast what the Independent TV Crew from the Organisers allowed them to broadcast. We did not see the athletes march into the stadium and we did not see Kurt Fearnley as the Australian Flag Bearer.

Apart from some of my negative comments and the disappointing closing ceremony I still feel, overall, the games were a huge success. I still feel proud to be a part of it. So proud in fact that Donnis and I will attend the Volunteers Party at Broadwater Park next Saturday evening.

Grrrrrrr! Just as I was preparing this blog to Post I noticed a tiny warning that the link with Facebook has failed….Again!!! This is ridiculous. Facebook are riddled with so many problems. Created by and managed and perpetuated by a bunch of adolescents with no life skills and no idea of how to solve a problem when one occurs. If Facebook was a motor car they would be in serious financial trouble and on the brink of collapse. Unlike car owners, Facebook users seem to shrug and accept what is dished up to them. There is no repair shop we can take the problem to.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.