Dec 06

Rainy day Auckland

by in Drawing & Writing

Auckland feels like Vancouver. There’s water all around, it’s very familiar somehow, but there’s still a good deal of dissociation in the details. It also gets 50ml of rain each December, according to our guidebook, and on Sunday a fair amount of that jar was filled. We jogged right through it, had a delicious breakfast right through it, read the newspaper right through it. One of the choicer quotes:

“A police staff member who made headlines for saving a teddy bear on the Auckland Harbour Bridge has been convicted of careless driving.”

Or, “Centipedes spawn fear and loathing in suburbs.”

Throughout the day we had to go shopping. The airport still hadn’t heard of my bag.

That evening, our last in Auckland, the hostel’s communal room filled up. There was a girl from Asia, an English woman, a German guy, two Israeli guys, and two girls from Hamburg. Antje and I were playing Scrabble. A 40′s-something man strode in, looking a bit like former Phillies pitcher Jon Kruk, but with longer hair. He made straight for the Asian girl.

“I thought I would come talk to you.”

The cadence of his speech was that of a beat poet. He’d also developed that expat style of highly enunciated English that made placing his accent, which was American, impossible.

“Actually I am busy. I am typing right now.”

“Oh really.”

“Yes, I am typing right now.”

“What are you typing?”

“I am typing, OK? I am busy typing.”

“OK, well, I guess that’s OK. Catch up with you later.”

He did a loop through the kitchen before repeating the act with the German girls. He was three feet away from the Asian girl.

“Hey, how you girls doing tonight.”


“Good, I’m doing alright. Some people here, they’re tired. They don’t have energy to talk. But me, I get excited. Talking gets me excited.”

He was excited. For the next thirty minutes he bombarded them with his opinions and life story. They hardly spoke a word.

I thought it was hilarious at first. As snippets floated across the room – the rest was drowned out – I wrote them down on our Scrabble scoresheet.

Here it is, in the anti-chronological order in which he told it:

“I think your people, they know the danger of electronics.”

“The European people, they know the history of Europe.”

“I also have some friends, some connections, in Paris.”

“Maybe I can do balloons, simple balloons, so I don’t need a big vocabulary.”

“The people of Ireland are very generous.”

“I think the English and the Germans, they’re very close. Germans are very consistent tippers. They don’t tip you too much, they don’t tip you too little.”

“I think Italians are full of attitude, what do you think?”

“Indian women are very generous to me. Indian men – bullshit.”

“Europe. I’ve never been to Europe. I want to go there. I know magicians who have had great success there.”

“It’s good Germany can be united again.”

“I probably shouldn’t say this, but… I’m not interested in concentration camps. I read about that stuff at school, I don’t need to see ‘em. I was talking to an older lady, a hypnotist in San Francisco, she said, ‘I didn’t wanna go to Alcatraz, but I went there. My friends were going so I went there.”

“What do you call a sword in German? ["Schwert."] I wanna go to Germany and do something with a sword, that’s part of your history.”

“I think it’d be easy to meet girls in Germany, because… I meet a lot of pretty girls.”

The girls from Hamburg were looking at the floor. They had had no exit strategy. Their chairs were against the wall. He kept going.

“I’m having a problem with the council in Wellington. Unfortunately I can’t take a bus right now. I’m not allowed.”

“That’s why we kicked the English out. We don’t need those councils.”

“I’m small fish in Auckland. The security guys know me.”

“…you learn that skill on the street.”

“I make a lotta jokes about alcoholism. Like, ‘Don’t mind him, he’s just an alcoholic… who everyone wants to be anonymous.”

“The police don’t bother me. They know I don’t drink, don’t do drugs.”

“There was a time, when I was sleeping in the parks, because… I was homeless. And I had this shiny aluminium knife, it was fake.”

“…this African-American, he was looking at me. So I just showed him my knife, my knife that was fake. Because criminals, they hate to work. They don’t want to work. So what you do is, you look at them.”

“I woke up in a park, and a skunk’s ass was in my face.”

“I’m very good at not escalating things.”

“In America, there’s too much begging. It’s obnoxious.”

At that he turned his chair 180-degrees to face our table. One of the two Israeli guys was sitting there, texting someone. He scooted toward him.

“So how you doing, man.”

“Good, good. Where are you from?”

“I’m initially from New York. But I lived in Seattle for about eight years, then in Portland, then in San Francisco. I’ve been here for 3 1/2 years now. I’m about to go on a world tour.”


“Yeah. So… I’m not really into these smartphones.”

We left.

Later in the night, when I went out to fill up my water bottle, he was lying sideways on the rug, head propped up in a hand, telling his stories to a Canadian girl on the sofa.

Which is why, in the end, I feel comfortable sharing them here. I almost threw them out, these notes. But I think he’d want you to know them, too.

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6 Responses to “Rainy day Auckland”

  1. From Brooke/Mom:

    Loved it! Every city has one of these guys, doesn’t it?

    Posted on December 6, 2011 at 16:10 #
    • From Brooke/Mom:

      Forgot to say that the drawings are unbelievable. I don’t know how you just whip one of those drawings out in a day, Antje! Your drawings are bringing your trip to life for those of us at home. Thank you!

      Posted on December 6, 2011 at 16:12 #
  2. From Cathy:


    Wow, this is a great journey. I feel privileged to share it with the two of you. You can sure write and these drawings… well they are wonderful. Congratulations you two. Cathy Sly

    Posted on December 6, 2011 at 16:47 #
  3. From Shannon Mariah:

    I will laugh multiple times throughout the day, “I woke up in a park, a skunk’s ass was in my face.” LOVE it and love you both—you are so talented it baffles me. The writing and drawings are fabulous! Hope you get your bag soon, Con!

    Posted on December 6, 2011 at 16:47 #
  4. From Eva:

    When will come the next story? I want to read it. And Antje, I really love the cat. She looks like she has a wonderful relaxed live.

    Posted on December 7, 2011 at 12:49 #
  5. From Lori:

    Antje, how long does it take, on average, to do one of these drawings? Brooke is right, it brings the trip to life for us over here. I’d love to see Antje’s take on the skunk’s ass in the guy’s face. :) What’s with the shovel hanging on the door to the shop/restaurant?
    Love you two!

    Posted on December 8, 2011 at 03:42 #