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I met Jason in Kalgoorlie while we were working at the Superpit as servicemen for a fairly rough contractor.
Jason was hired as my cross-shift. I got to show him around the huge site for a few days. I soon found out he’s not the shy retiring type. He’s a bit like a cyclone; you never know what he’s going to do next.
The first hour of ‘orientation’ certainly made me nervous. He’s waving at the truck drivers and hitting the horn as the supervisors go past, not a care in the world. I wondered if he was the boss’s son. (At the Superpit people waving at you and blowing the horn meant you’d done something wrong or your truck was on fire. I don't know how much production was lost by truckies stopping to check their tyres before they figured out it was just some mad bastard waving at them. He didn’t care.)
When I finally asked what the hell was he doing, he says, “I’m just being friendly...”. That’s Jason. If you weren’t friends with him after a couple of hours there’s a good chance you never had a friend in your life.
He’d give you his last dollar if you needed it. He’d never ask for it back. I’m against borrowing money from friends as a rule and always paid back my loans but Jason wouldn’t have cared.
He let slip one day that he donates to Greenpeace. He’s covered in grease, hydraulic oil and diesel. The ground around the service truck is almost black with waste oil from the work we do in the yard. He lights a cigarette and says “What?” to our stunned faces. I couldn’t help making a big deal out of it. I tried to convince him he had a conflict of interest here. We destroy the earth for a living.
I said “well Dolphin boy, if they knew your occupation they’d hang you from your balls.” He seemed offended by the thought that the organisation he gave money to might want to kill him. Or maybe he just didn’t like being called Dolphin boy. Nick names are really hard to get rid of. We didn’t call him that much, unless we wanted to be thrown through a window.
He loved to stir people on the common radio channel. He was always concerned someone might be developing a rash. If you annoyed him he’d ask, “How’s that rash going? You need a cream for that?” Half the site would crack up and the supervisors would be looking to have a word with him. I learned to have a reply ready. “That back, crack and sac rash is clearing up, thanks.” Wouldn’t stop him asking again the next day.
Jason was prone to get into trouble with total innocence. The funniest story (I thought) was about a trip he’d taken overseas and how he and a mate got on Thailand’s ‘watch list’. I thought he’d tell me he was a drug smuggler or some bloody thing. You never knew with Jase. But it was a typical Jason story. He and a friend went to Bangkok for a holiday. They get off the plane and instead of following the crowd to customs they take a ‘short cut’ and get lost. Somehow they throw open a door that led outside the airport. They’d totally bypassed customs. Anyone else might worry that this wasn’t right or good but not Jason. He shrugs at his good fortune of missing the long lines, grabs his bag and disappears.
Now it’s time to go home. They go into the airport the conventional way and of course have to go through customs. Their passports have no entry stamps which causes a huge problem. They have to sit in an interrogation room for hours while the very annoyed Thai's try to work out how they got here and what they’ve been doing. He manages to convince the cops they’d accidentally gone the wrong way and they let him go home. Now personally I would never go back to that country but he really liked it there and returned just about every year. He suffers through the special treatment he gets every time with good humour.
(Like it? See - Tanami Desert Diary).