You’re in my mind, all of the time, and I know it’s not enough, do you know what song has been rattling in my mind all week long? “Van Diemen’s Land”. The song that Edge wrote about the land on the edge of nowhere has been rattling and humming in my brain for the past seven days and with good reason.
You’ll recall that Van Diemen’s Land (modern day Tasmania) and Australia were the penal colonies that England sent the worst of the worst from the UK – including England’s unruly neighbor, Ireland – to. Hardened criminals, like those who dared to attempt to steal a loaf of bread because they hadn’t eaten in a week, or those who wrote poetry – apparently the pen is not mightier than the sword – were shipped off to no man’s land to live with the kangaroos for up to 20 years or life. It’s a gem of a song, and it was a discovered gem – gold to be exact – that was the impetus behind England’s decision that they needed to be all over the land down under. They replaced lawbreakers with another form of criminals – government officials – to stake their claim.
Well, getting back to why “Van Diemen’s Land” has been stuck in my brain this week…because I’ve had the displeasure of visiting three different modern day Van Diemen’s Lands this week, and I’m ready to beg for mercy, yes U2’s “Mercy”. Van Diemen’s Land was Club Med compared to what I had to endure. Don’t believe me? Judge for yourself, here are the three modern day VDL’s I had to visit in one week. You tell me it’s not So Cruel and unusual punishment.
DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) – I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to renew my license online in the past and avoid the hold that is just killing people’s time, but no could do this time. For some reason, the DMV website was down and I had to journey to the place known as the Unforgettable Mire. I turned the corner to join the never ending line on the horizon to hell and landed right behind a lady with four kids all under the age of five. Right then and there I should have walked on to the bar across the street and began drinking, but it was 9:30 in the morning and I usually wait until 10, so I convinced myself that the line would move quickly and that I should wait it out. Forty five minutes, three diaper changes, and a twenty minute crying tantrum later (the tantrum was mine), I finally reached the head of the line. The troll behind the corner informed me that I could have bypassed this line and gone to the next counter for license renewals. Before I let this bastard grind me down, I regained my composure and asked where there was a sign that stated this information. She pointed to a hand written piece of paper about the size of a post-it note on the wall behind her…with the words LICENSE RENEWAL both misspelled (lisense renewel).
Walmart Return Line – Apparently the ground zero of America’s great melting pot is Walmart. I do not normally shop in Walmart, but I am well aware that most people in there have names you find so hard to spell, not to mention understand. Only with the ability to speak English (some would even question that), I do not know how to speak the thirteen different languages that I heard waiting to return a $12 shirt that some Indonesian child laborer worked so hard to sew together for $1.25 a month slave wage. If you ever want to see China right in front of you, go no further than your nearest Walmart. Their shelves are stacked higher than the Great Wall with stuff from China that we don’t really need. You’ve got to leave it behind, unless of course it’s a bunch of sh*t at ridiculously low prices that will break within a month. Anyway, my father got me a shirt for Father’s Day that could have passed for a tent. He’s 81, so what could I say to him that twelve of his internal organs haven’t already said to him the last couple of years? I sat behind this lady in the return line, who was yapping on her phone, returning a pack of gum that she just bought at the register because it was the wrong flavor…and she was chewing a piece from that pack. You know you’re chewing bubble gum, you know what it is but you still want some different flavor and your money back??? I almost gave her the .50 cents and told her take that lovey dovey stuff and shove it up her aisle #2, but I didn’t. Note to self, tell dad to get me just a card next year.
Finally, I had to endure a seven year-old’s baseball game this week. Living in barren Van Diemen’s Land under the harshest weather conditions and the sting of an English whip had to be better than the torture of sitting through a seven year-old’s baseball game, right? The first hour & a half wasn’t too bad, but the second inning was much worse. I sat there with my painted on smile and positive comments, all the while wishing I was with The Fly’s main character in hell. How many errors can one team make? The only positive I can take from this entire experience is the joy in knowing it wasn’t soccer I was watching. Oh, I know everyone had World Cup fever, but I’d rather watch my son’s baseball team lose 22-4 than watch a 0-0 tie in soccer.
We all have our own personal Van Diemen’s Land in our lives. How you choose to deal with the situation is the key to survival. Downing the bitter pills that life sometimes throws our way may be a bitter pill to swallow, so it’s best to gulp it down quickly, get it over with & move forward. Remember, what once was Van Diemen’s Land is now an exotic getaway called Tasmania.