Skipping Parliament House

22 October 2021

Flying down to the ACT from sunny Queensland feels like arriving in a different country. Canberra is organised with rules and government jobs.

Tidiness

Someone asked me to send my first impressions. I hopped on the bus outside the airport and had a look around. Clean glass, mowed lawns. Order. I started typing my message. All I could imagine was an order to builders:

“What I want is a city that has the look and feel and sterility of a hospital campus”

“Say no more, boss”

Rules

Today, the most obvious rule is wearing face masks outside.

I forgot that this morning after I set off on a 3km walk to pick up my rental car. On wearing masks outside, the rules say one thing but both science and common sense say another. Science says the risk of contracting COVID-19 outdoors is very, very low - something between 1% and 0.1%. Common sense says there’s nobody to catch or spread any respiratory disease when you don’t walk past anybody anyway. If you walk past somebody here in the ACT, you’d be unlucky to walk past an unvaccinated person over the age of 12: 98.3% have had 1 dose; 83% 2nd dose. Every one of the 10 people I saw on the way were wearing face masks.

It feels like rules are important in Canberra.

Jobs

Canberra has jobs. Especially in the federal government.

So far, there are 3 people who I’m due to meet up with and all of them have jobs in the federal government.

Jamie works for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Before he moved here, Jamie and I would sit in the shade in a dusty outback town testing each others' general knowledge. One of our favourites was trying to name every single country, their capital, their flag, and some history.

James is an executive in some cybersecurity advisory department (I think). Before moving to Canberra, James and I would discuss tech stuff when dicussing tech stuff was something people made fun of you for. When he was 13 he had the smallest mobile phone I’d ever seen.

That leaves one very interesting person who claims they’re not interesting at all. I can’t remember exactly which federal government department she works in. I don’t have any stories to share about our past; we’ve only hung out a couple of times in person.

I arrived to Canberra feeling like I wouldn’t fit in. I’m not particularly organised, I don’t really like rules and the last time I had a job was over one and a half years ago. I arrived with motorbike boots on and helmet in hand like I hadn’t sold my motorbike a few days ago. But here I am, sitting in a rental car by lake Burley Griffin, looking forward to more time with these people.

And for other shitty Canberra things: there’s always more jumpers and antihistamines to buy.

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