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21 October 2011 / leggypeggy

I’ve become THAT derelict lady on the bus

A sea of shoes in Hanoi.

My thong broke yesterday. Don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not talking about a pair of skimpy underpants that fell to the ground and that I then stepped gracefully out of and flicked into the distance with the heel of my stiletto. I’m talking about my flip-flops. My fake Reebok thongs. The ones I bought in Indonesia last year.

There we were—in the middle of the afternoon, in the middle of the road, in the middle of Saigon (called Ho Chi Minh City these days)—and no easy solution in sight. Hoi An was filled with cobblers, Hanoi was filled with shoe stores. Saigon didn’t seem to have much of either. So I hobbled along, with my first two toes trying desperately to keep the wretched thong on my foot.

Then I glanced at my wrist and immediately saw the answer. And what I did next has Petra saying I have ‘now become THAT derelict lady on the bus to Sydney’.

THAT derelict lady

I can’t say we met the derelict lady so much as encountered her in 1987. Now you know that if a family is still talking about an episode 24 years down the track, it must have been memorable. That morning, the derelict lady was lugging her over-sized suitcase onto the bus from Canberra to Sydney. Poor John, the girls and I were already on the bus, heading to the airport and a flight that would take us to the USA for Christmas.

As soon as the derelict lady—I’ve often wondered why we still refer to her as a lady—had hauled herself and her bag to a seat directly in front of us, she began to hurl random, foul-mouthed abuse at passengers and the world in general. The driver wasn’t on the bus yet, but as soon as he arrived, he ordered her to get her bag off so it could be stored underneath. She let rip with so many expletives. I knew that, someday in future, my kids would say that’s the day they learned to swear.

In the end, the driver threatened to toss her off the bus if she didn’t pipe down (he was more emphatic than that) and move her bag. She complied with both orders and was reasonably quiet for the actual road trip. But you have to picture her—hugely overweight, breath smelling of alcohol, clothes in tatters (lots of safety pins in use).

About halfway to Sydney, Petra, who was about four at the time, whispered ‘will that lady be in the seat in front of us on the airplane?’ I tried to keep a straight face and said I was pretty sure she wouldn’t be on the plane at all.

Flip-fops galore—and in all colours.

Me and THAT derelict lady

So what made Petra compare me to THAT derelict lady? It wasn’t the over-size luggage, the excess weight, the boozy breath, the ratty clothes or even the safety pins. Oh no, it was the rubber bands. She had her shoes held on with rubber bands, which is exactly what I did when my thong broke. I had a huge rubber band on my wrist (who knows when they’re going to need a giant rubber band?) and I stretched it around my foot and shoe. It worked perfectly until we could find a shoe shop selling thongs with a soft-ish sole.

So now I have a brand new pair of fake Croc thongs, five blisters and a very dirty rubber band back on my wrist. I am THAT derelict lady—ready for the next emergency!


Leave a Comment
  1. Anita / Oct 21 2011 3:49 am

    Oh Ew!!
    Peggy I can’t believe you have the rubber band back on your wrist!!! Funny story though, keep em coming 😉
    xx Anita


  2. leggypeggy / Oct 21 2011 3:55 am

    I washed it! It’s just still dirty. 🙂


  3. Louise M Oliver / Oct 21 2011 7:35 am

    Ah Peggy,
    Never THAT derelict lady but always resourceful. Well done! And what colour flip flop did you buy? There were so many to choose from. I don’t suppose you bought a second pair for future emergencies? Still enjoying the stories. Be good and take care and say ‘hello’ to Poor John for me.

    All the best


  4. Louise M Oliver / Oct 21 2011 7:35 am

    PS: I forgot to ask why you’re wearing a big rubber band on your wrist.


  5. leggypeggy / Oct 22 2011 2:07 am

    You never know when you’ll need a rubber band. They’re great for holding together disintegrating books and closing up food bags. And when they’re on your wrist, they’re always handy. I started wearing them in Africa.


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