At the end of a quiet shift selling tickets from the booth, I returned to the office next to the wharf to cash up. Despite a dearth of customers over the day I was somehow $100 short. Exactly $100. A very convenient figure, so I returned to the booth to check for any missing $100 notes, possibly a couple of $50s down the back of the desk perhaps? But nothing. Recounting the money, going through receipts and adding the ticket sales up repeatedly I returned to the same specific figure of $100. My colleagues were loving this. The Captain had been in a foul mood all week and this would surely be the sour cherry on the Croats cake. He was due to return any minute from his last cruise of the day and I was told in no uncertain terms by those who’d worked for him longer than I, that to be missing $100 was quite possibly a sackable offence. Would I risk his wrath, ride the storm of his anger and hope I’d have a job by the end of it? I had mere minutes to play with, so I frantically recounted everything again, praying this $100 would appear from the ether and magically solve by insolvency. But no luck. The great boat lumbered into view, slowly approaching the dock like a giant P45. “It’s now or never,” my work-mate urged, “he’ll be here any minute.” Realising I couldn’t risk unemployment at this late stage of my working visa, I bowed my head, reached into my wallet and begrudgingly took $100 from my own wallet. I had worked in the booth for six hours. I was now only going to be paid for one.
Cycling home, still deducing whether my stable job status was worth an essentially free shift, a baby bird flew out from behind a parked car and straight into the spinning vortex of my front wheel. There was a swish of spokes on feathers, a muted shriek and a lump of semi-conscious animal slumped on the tarmac. I couldn’t stop as there was so much traffic behind me. That baby bird was about to find this out the hard way.
I’m not sure but if I’d stayed and explained to the Captain about my loss of funds he would have yelled at me for a while, maybe sacking me in the process. This would have probably taken long enough to ensure that helpless chick would have flown unobstructed across the road. As it happened, I lost $100 and I killed a bird with my bike.