Facing East, we stood and waved as the resident camp manager’s vehicle climbed up and over the saddle that separates Port Jackson bay from the rest of the world. After the dust settled and the car vanished from sight, we turned 180 degrees to face what had become our new workplace, albeit for just the next six days. Before us, the glistening Hauraki Gulf reflected onto the motorhomes and caravans lazily spread out along the beach front campsite that we now found ourselves temporarily running. It was impossible to suppress raised eyebrows and smiles as we sat down and poured the first morning’s coffee, whilst on the deck of what felt like New Zealand’s best placed office, or even cafe bar for that matter. This was one vocation, whilst on vacation, we could get used to.
Fourteen footsteps is what separated us from the high tide that licked a golden sandy beach, where our two young boogie boarders donned togs and sunscreen for the first of many refreshing dips that day.
In several hours time on the out-going tide, we’d be joined by fellow campers huddling around the bat as willow and plastic made contact for the afternoon’s beach cricket tournament. But before then, work beckoned.
When the first vehicle pulled up, I watched as the driver casually opened his door, stepped out, and calmly made his way up to the office with a smile and an acknowledging nod of his head in my direction. Suddenly realising I had work to do after four months of travel, I felt the duty of public service and work fuse together and in that instant was transformed back into my hard wired emergency department nursing role of 15 years.
I remembered thinking ‘this guy looks way too healthy and happy to be coming here.’ Before he’d even walked in the door I’d completed an ABC primary assessment. Airway – clear. Breathing – non distressed with normal respirations. Circulation – pink and well perfused. By the time he’d reached the counter I’d already triaged him as a category 5 and was about to tell him to take a seat in the waiting room, before he said, “beaut spot, I’d like to stay for a couple of nights”.
I wanted to say “Hey! You can’t just come waltzing in here like that, demanding a bed. It’ll be up to the consultant when he gets round to seeing you. Now take a seat. Can’t you see we’re busy?”
I was all set to release my wrath of loquacious verbal rambling, when either a glimmer from the sea, or a boat moored out in the bay, caught my eye and suddenly returned me back into the present time, present place and the present job. Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s right. I’m here and you’re here and we’re both at Port Jackson campsite – together! “Help yourself mate” I told him. “Cold showers are over there, free BBQ’s under here, don’t drink the water without boiling it first, and find a lovely spot to get your tent up”.
He smiled, which made me smile. Because when you’re in charge of a campsite and the sun is shining and people are enjoying themselves in the sea or on the beach, just about everyone has an infectious smile that spreads about like a good dose of chickenpox at kindy or the flu around a hospital.
Hospital! There I was again thinking about work as I sat back down to an unfinished mug of coffee. What was I doing today again? Oh that’s right, after morning break I was off to scoop out a feed of tuatuas from the sea with my boys.
What a job!