The aircraft carrier USS Kittyhawk is in town, along with a cruiser and another support ship. Making for some 7000 recreating personnel in town. Additionally there were a bunch of US Army Reservists, flown here for Sunday's WW2 Remembrance Marches in Sydney.
If I didn’t cart sailors from Garden Island to Kings Cross, I carried Reservists to the Shangrila Hotel in The Rocks. For most of the night. This routine made a welcome change to my usual, boring Sunday night...
Though speaking of change, not one sailor tipped me ! Yet the Reservists did, as is usual with Americans. Being civilians, I figure they adopted normal tourist practises. Whilst both sets of fares were around $8, all the sailors waited for their change. Despite the average sailor being on crap wages, I suspect another factor was at play. Possibly they had been advised by Naval officials that Sydney cabbies don’t need tipping ! As are overseas Qantas passengers informed by their captain, on arrival. Or at least they used to be.
On approach to Sydney many sailors pre-booked hotel rooms, via the internet, for their 5 day stay. And why wouldn’t they after 45 straight days at sea. Or 45 days straight, at sea...no wait, ahh bugger it. You know what I mean.
Speaking of which I collected two randy lesbians outside a Kings Cross strip club. ‘Woolloomooloo Hotel thanks mate’, they ordered climbing in the back seat. Thence urgently fell upon each other in a heavy face-sucking, groping embrace.
After a minute or so I adjusted my rear-view mirror and addressed them, ‘Um, are you guys, like...um, sisters..?’. They broke apart laughing, ‘No, not really, why do you ask ?’. Duh. ‘Well’, I laughed, ‘you seem really happy to see each other’. Which really cracked them up, ensuring a modest tip. ‘Gees’, one giggled, ‘if we bred, we’d have mongoloids’. I decided to change the subject. ‘So you off to pick up some sailors...?’. ‘No way mate, we’re chasin’ skirt !’. If nothing else, they were honest about it.
Most sailors grilled me with, ‘Where’s the action man ?’. Though being a Sunday night they were restricted to a limited number of venues from Kings Cross to George Street to the Rocks. It was interesting to note the various modes of attire of those seeking action. The young dressed in club fashions, others wore street grunge - including skateboards, but most went clean and tidy casual gear. And the officers dressed up a notch, as befits their rank.
Standard across all designations was their severe military haircuts of short back and sides. Which many young guys disguised with a variety of head wear from hoods to beanies to caps. I spotted one couple on Oxford Street sporting matching, fetching scarfs. Another common trait amongst all the sailors was their perfect manners, a real tonic to this jaded cabbie. It may sound corny but to be treated with graciousness and respect is a big deal in the cab.
Last night at work, Monday, it was obvious the sailors were over their arriving enthusiasm as they leisurely wandered around the City. Many were off to visit mates at numerous hotels for room parties, or otherwise out on the prowl. Additionally last night there was a marked increase in local girls out and about, after their dream sailor, or simply looking for a good time. Also many sailor’s partners have flown in to join their men. It must be tough for those partners enduring such long periods of separation.
As it is for those with loved ones back home. It was easy to spot these guys wandering slowly around town by themselves, exhibiting a certain loneliness. Generally they stay on board in port, electing to save their money and enjoy the relative quiet of their quarters. I call them the ‘pizza guys’ as they clustered in small groups and pairs at the gates of Garden Island, awaiting delivery of pizzas.
Over both nights I gravitated to this front gate adjacent to the gigantic, humming Kittyhawk. Being an old fan of military hardware I never tire of being in close proximity to such an array of military aircraft, especially the sleek F-18's. Hence an excess number of images taken. Of which I'll post more later.
Maybe tomorrow on my day off I’ll get organised and take a tour of the carrier. If I can get up in time. Goodnight.