Trips and Slips

We just came back from Australia and anyone who wants a complete rundown of our fantastic trip is simply out of luck. My assumption is that you’d rather have root canal than see hundreds of my less than stellar pictures of the iconic Sydney Opera House. Suffice to say that our threesome loved every moment although my feet did protest.

And in these days when we’ve got more important trips than ours coming up next week, an important meeting of our two first men, there’s much to worry about. Hopefully they won’t trip! Or slip.  But, alas, I’m sure they will!

Our trip was organized as a visit to our grandson  who is doing a semester abroad at the University of New South Wales.  So excited was he to see us that he promptly made plans for a trip of his own to New Zealand.  One concentrated day was enough for the lad but we love him still. And we wish him safe travels!

So on our plane there was an attractive younger (well, just about everyone is younger these days) woman whose kosher meal never arrived.  The trip from LAX to SYD is 15 hours of hunger and this lady was a far better sport than your correspondent.  She settled for fruit. Lots of fruit.  We chatted briefly as we were deboarding and that wasn’t it.

On Shabbat we went to the Central Synagogue.  Kudoes to the Central Synagogue for a brilliant service, with passionate singing, enough to inspire the most determined non-believer.  I kid you not.

So, who was sitting in a distant pew from me:  of course it was my new acquaintance from the plane.  What a coincidence..  But these things can happen.

Today, though, when we got to the club at
Sydney airport, there she was again, awaiting the flight back to LAX, our flight.  How likely is all that?   In one week to bump into the same person three times in different circumstances.  When we parted we knew we would meet again.  No doubt about it.

I took away something else from the trip.  I finally figured out what happened to Woolworths.

I have a long history with Woolworths.  As a high school girl I actually got fired from the store on Broad Street in Newark.  I labored there an entire day for a take home of $3.33.  Unhappy with my assignment in cosmetics, because my “stall-mate” was stealing the lipsticks, I was reassigned to fabric.  I never sewed a button so working with fabric was a real nightmare to me.  These huge bolts of cloth had to be measured according to the customer’s specifications.  They were clumsy to fold.  It was a slow process, much slower than cosmetics.  Often the customer would change her mind (always “her”, never “his”) just before the cut which finalized the deal.  Then the fabric had to be folded back on the bolt.  All this took time and there was only one employee designated to do this stuff.  Me!

Woolworths had a policy that the “girls” (never “boys”) had to count out change to the customers. Just to make sure you did this consistently they had nasty people called “shoppers” whose job was to look and act like normal customers while they tried to trick you into not counting out the change.

So it was that one day my department was very busy and one woman, I presume the “shopper,” couldn’t make up her mind.  Other people were waiting impatiently.  No help was on the way.  It was the fabric, the shopper and me in an endless agonizing struggle for superiority.  Usually the fabric won.  This time the shopper won.

Frantically, knowing there were many impatient customers waiting for my attention,  I handed her the correct change but I did not count it out. That was my end.  At the conclusion of the day the manager gave me two checks and, foolishly, I told her she was paying me double.  “No dear,” she demurred.  It’s right.  I argued.  Finally, she said, “Dear,you’ve been fired.”

I returned home with tears.  A humiliation I have never forgotten.

When my children were young I tried to tell them the tale.  The problem was they had no clue as to what Woolworths was.  Or what a 5 and 10 was.  Like dinosaurs that used to roam the earth, Woolworths, that most ubiquitous store of my childhood, had disappeared.

So, it was that we arrived in Sydney, Australia and what store was all over:  Woolworths.  Aha, I pounced.  That’s where all the Woolworths went .  Wrong again.

Finally, yesterday, we actually went into a Woolworths store.  Think Supersol or Shop-Rite.  Not a 5 and 10 at all.  A plain old supermarket.

So now we are back at our points of origin and we can focus on those other travelers and their trips.  We learned that the Kotel may be in some place called Palestine and that Trump’s helicopter can’t land on Masada. Who can make this stuff up?

Better to worry about the lost Woolworths.

About the Author
Rosanne Skopp is a wife, mother of four, grandmother of fourteen, and great-grandmother of three. She is a graduate of Rutgers University and travels back and forth between homes in New Jersey and Israel. She is currently writing a family history.