Cracker by Damian Christie

Three Days Before the Day After Tomorrow

With front-line correspondence from veteran journalists such as Russell and Graham, you probably care how I was affected by that day.

Which is good, because I wasn’t. Not really.

I was at the airport, about to depart for a two-week reporting stint in Wellington. An announcement came over the PA.

“We’d like to advise, blah blah blah, Christchurch Airport has just been closed blah blah blah… in addition a number of Northland destinations have also [CLICK]”

Everything went dark.

For a split second I freaked. Something had gone terribly wrong in Christchurch (no great loss, but what if the survivors moved to Auckland?), Northland had been removed from the map, and now Auckland was in the dark. Could the Greens be right? Is this The Day After Tomorrow? No, I reassured myself, it can’t be. It’s Yesterday.

But before I could start hyperventilating, the Auckland Airport generator kicked in. The fluoro’s of the Koru lounge flickered back to life and I went back to enjoying my flat white, biscotti and morning paper. She’s a hard life sometimes.

On the plane it was good news and bad news: “Hey folks. The flight will be a bit quicker today, thanks to the 200km/h tail winds we’ve got pushing us along. However it will be pretty rough, so for safety reasons we won’t be able to serve tea and coffee.”

“Pretty rough” doesn’t quite explain what it was like landing at Wellington Airport, but as you’ve probably picked up, we made it.

A slew of responses (if that’s the correct collective noun?) to my last post about police discretion and walk-thru breath testing. Some had also been turned down a ‘pre-driving’ breath test, others found the police quite accommodating, while Adrian had the same experience as me, basically arguing until the officer capitulated:

i asked one of the officers if i could do a breath test and he said no, and it wasn't until I said 'What if i go out there, hit someone drunk and kill someone?' that he felt guilty enough to test me (which i passed a-ok). He was already sitting in his car, the machine was right next to him, so it struck me as a little disappointing that they wouldn't test me when i asked... If they're so concerned about stopping drink drivers then surely this is very little to ask!

Quite. Although I thought rather than speculating wildly, I’d do some *actual investigation* (see Russell, I’m all growed up now) to see if there was an official policy. Sure enough, the Media Relations Manager at the Office of the Commissioner got back to me with an answer.

Bottom line? The policy is not to test. Apparently it raises a number of potential legal issues. The non-evidential testing thingamies may not be entirely precise, and if you get the “all-clear” from one, it’s possible to run into another checkpoint shortly afterwards, and fail. You’d then have a defence (of sorts) that the police told you it was okay to drive. Alternately, people may consider passing the test cause for celebration, and an excuse to have another for the road.

Worst of all, you can imagine the media frenzy if, after being given the go-ahead, you managed to crash into a busload of orphans. Legal issues or otherwise, it’s not a headline anyone wants to see.

With uncharacteristic good timing, my sister (in Auckland) gave birth the day before I headed south. She was supposed to be born on the 6/06/06, but all the jumping up and down, cups of tea and praying to the Dark Lord wouldn’t budge the little blighter, so I gave up on my campaign to have the child named Damianella. Or Damianette. Such pretty names for a girl.

But as a proud first-time Uncle, I hope you’ll bear with me as I show remarkable restraint in posting only one of the 60-odd photos I snapped of my freshly spawned niece, Morgan, some six hours after her arrival:

So anyway, I’m in Wellington. I’m yet to see any skirts over trousers, but I’m assured the capital’s claim to fashion infamy continues in some quarters. It’s cold, wet, windy and I don’t know anyone. Calling all friends, past, present and future – get back in touch, it’d be nice to hear from you.