Something Fishy

Passport Update: 10.5 weeks’ wait; still no progress.

One of these would be easier to find …

I contacted my local MP and got a very prompt reply from her team, who in turn contacted the APO, who sent me a generic reply that included the line (I kid you not): We apologise for the delay you have experienced waiting for your passport to issue OR difficulty you have experienced in contacting our passports team.

I mean, at least delete the option that’s not relevant if you want us to believe you’ve even read the message to which you’re allegedly responding, guys.

They sign off by promising “we endeavour to have your passport ready so that you an travel.”

Again: Aim High, Team.

Can you imagine if we here just “endeavoured” to deliver education courses? I don’t think “there’s a high demand for our services right now” (an actual line from my September 15 “response,” as opposed to the September 30 one, above) … would cut it as an excuse in *our* federally funded government department, but OK.

Anyhow, those annoyances aside:

It’s that time of the year when the Spousal Unit is on holidays and I’m not, and it’s a busy time at work, and when you add personal stresses like AWOL passports to the mix, things like brains start to malfunction a bit and then you do things like forgetting the password to your entire work network that you use a million times a day and knew perfectly well at the start of the weekend … but I digress.

So the Spousal Unit and I have been trying to retain the last remaining threads of my sanity by doing some projects around the house (yes, I know), and also having him join me for part of a work trip to Batemans Bay. I might leave that story for another day, because I’m still processing it. I think if he hadn’t been there at the time I might have convinced myself by now that it was all a particularly surreal dream.

So we’ve been digging up very overgrown front garden with a view to planting some things we actually like and that aren’t taller than us. The process has been like stumbling upon lost civilisations in the jungle, with pots and garden statues appearing that we’d forgotten we’d ever owned. And my poor crabapple tree, which has been struggling since I planted it a year ago, suddenly has leaves on it. Turns out a bit of sunlight works wonders for photosynthesis.

But because the East Coast of Australia is semi-permanently under water these days, progress has been slow. So Him Indoors turned his hand to an indoor project–cleaning the tank of our last remaining fish, Mulder. This was prompted by the pump in the tank apparently giving up the proverbial ghost.

So off to the pet store he went, where the young salesperson told him that his pump was an old pump type and even though it wouldn’t fit his aquaculture tank, it was his best option. So he came home and set everything up.

Kind of important for the submerged pump to pump water into the top tray for this to work …

The next morning, Mulder had swum off the mortal coil. Belly up, eyes shut, unequivocal. I also noticed that the brand new pump wasn’t working. He dealt with Mulder, I puzzled over the poor quality pump. And put my hand in the water. Which was warm. And gave me a small electric shock.

“Are you sure this is meant to go in the water?” I asked.

“Where else would it go?” came the reply.

So I asked were there any instructions. Of course, he replied, looking offended, and handing them to me. I looked at the diagram, then back at the pump. “There seem to be bits missing,” I said. He promptly produced them with a flourish, from the same place where the instructions had been. He’d cut one cord to shorten it, and not used another bit, or the air bubble. OK, I thought, there goes any chance of a refund. Then, I realised we’d had a pump just like to aerate our outside pond. It did not get submerged. My poor brain was trying to piece these bits together, but it wasn’t until I looked at the diagrams that it all came together in, ahem, a flash.

The diagrams where the pump was sitting on furniture next to the fish tank.

I read on.

“This says,” I said slowly, “to discontinue use if the pump gets at all wet.”

That night, he told me he felt really bad about accidentally electrocuting his fish. “And nearly electrocuting you,” he added, as an afterthought. “That could have been bad.”

The original pump is repaired now. We’re waiting a few days before getting new fish.


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