I have picked up C, who went up to Brisbane the night before, and we are now standing in the car parking lot, waiting to pay the machine so we can be released back onto Sydney's choked roads. It's cold where we are. Windy. I huddle in my leather jacket, which is nice and warm, and think about how the only problem with being self employed and keeping hours that aren't nine to five is that all your friends assume you're free to take them to and from the airport.
"I told my boss I was going up to see relatives," C says.
It doesn't help that that's usually quite true.
"He wasn't going to give me the time off if I was going to watch football."
"You should quit."
"But. Like. I didn't book the tickets and they were, really, really, good."
I glance at him.
"The camera kept going back to me and the others," he continues. "I must've had a dozen messages each time, man."
"Going to have to find a new lie for your boss now."
"I got one," he says, proud. "Originally, I was suppose to go with four people from work, but one of them didn't go--so I'm just going to say I got his ticket at the last minute. After all, he stayed in Sydney."
"Thanks. Hey, you got a couple of coins for parking?"
The way airport pick ups work is simple: whoever you pick up pays for your parking. It's a fair system. I like it especially because I'm picking up people all the time, and parking at Sydney Airport is expensive. There's no change from the machines, though, so sometimes you end up covering the coinage. Anyhow, I dig a couple of coins out while C pulls out the notes--it's fourteen bucks, since we've been there thirty minutes--and places his half drunk bottle of Coke down on the ground. It's important to note that he places it down next to his luggage. It is important to note that the bottle is half empty.
We get the ticket.
C looks down and says, "Where's my Coke?"
"Someone nicked my Coke, man."
I look around. There were a couple of people around us before, but I didn't pay much attention. No one is around us now. "Maybe it rolled somewhere--I mean, who the fuck steals a half empty bottle of Coke?"
C looks around. "No," he says. "It's not here. Someone fucking nicked me Coke."
"Who steals a half a bottle of Coke?"
I look around for the Coke. It's a big, concrete car parking lot. Coke bottles have very few places to hide. None, in fact.
"This really fucking bothers me. Someone is drinking my spitty fucking Coke."
Silence. The wind blows through the parking lot. We're utterly alone. If someone did take the Coke--it seems ridiculous but it's not here now--then they are long, long gone. They have escaped with their half drunk stolen good.
Finally, I say, "This fucking city is getting worse."