Based on a 2012 estimate, there’s a little over 18,000 people in Augusta, Maine. Based on that figure, I’ve been throwing around the following line, tongue firmly in cheek, for the past 10 days:
“Do you think I’m the only Aussie in Augusta?”
Of course, this gets a laugh and the reassurance that I may in fact be the only Australian in the state, never mind the city. But after today, I’ll never make that joke again.
Because I met the other Australian in Augusta, Maine. Of course I did.
With an alleged ice storm on the way, I spent my Saturday morning hustling my ass around so, if need be, I could see out the foul weather firmly planted in my newly purchased recliner with supplies (read: booze) at hand.
After renting and returning a 10-foot truck to lug my new furniture around, I’d worked up a hunger for lunch and a thirst … although the latter can be attributed to being a little dusty from having a few post-work beers at The Liberal Cup the night before. Given I was right on Western Avenue, I figured Applebee’s would be a solid enough choice for the midday meal.
For those who may not be in the know – in other words, my Australian readers – Applebee’s markets itself as your friendly neighborhood bar and grill. “See you tomorrow” is their slogan. It’s a huge chain and there’s nothing particularly unique or even impressive about it, but the food’s decent and they always have a bunch of sport on TV.
I sat at the bar and the bartender quickly cottoned on to the fact that I’m “not from around here”. I gave her the Reader’s Digest version of what I’m doing before she left me to my own devices to read the menu. A few minutes later, a couple walked in and sat two seats down from me at the bar. I couldn’t quite hear the chit-chat they had with the bartender but I noticed his pronunciation of vowels was a little more broad and his Rs weren’t hard. That in and of itself isn’t so uncommon in this part of the country, where New Englanders tend to sound a little more like Aussies in some words. I didn’t think much of it in any case.
That is, not until the bartender said “wow, another Australian!”
“Where’s the other one?” my new neighbor at the bar asked.
“Him!” she said, pointing at me.
And sure enough, there were now two former residents of Brisbane at the bar, sitting side by side, completely by chance, in a town of 18,000 in the furthest US state from Australia.
Could the world be any smaller?
(And for the record, we got along well enough to trade numbers and agree to grab a beer at some stage in the near future. I think his girlfriend was a little overwhelmed by all the foreigners though.)