It’s difficult to believe how much trouble a broken little toe gave me during the first few weeks of my study abroad experience in Brisbane. It started when I tripped over my bed the day before school began and a week before a Green Day show, to which I had held tickets for at least three months. When I bought the tickets (standing room only), it sounded like a great idea. Unfortunately, that now meant a chance for my throbbing foot to get trampled. One saving grace was that the standing-room section was divided into a front and back areas, I had only procured a back ticket. My section wouldn’t be too crowded. Still, I was taking a serious risk.
I couldn’t not go – I had paid upwards of $60.00 for the ticket and I wanted to see if their politically-charged show changed at all between countries. I had to find a way to protect my foot. Limping to the nearest pharmacy, I found the bandage section, I was looking for something that would provide padding when a pharmacist walked up to me.
“Are you finding everything okay?” she asked.
“I’m not really sure.” I responded. “Do you have anything for protecting broken toes when you’re wearing shoes?”
She grimaced. “Well…do you really have to wear shoes? Why can’t you wear those thongs?” (She meant flip-flops. Somehow, I don’t believe that getting rid of my pantylines would help fix my problem.)
I explained my situation, how it would be a terrible idea to wear thongs to the concert that night. She uh-hummed and looked serious, informing me there was no way to cover up a little toe as much as I needed. Treating the whole case in a very solemn manner, she asked, “Do you want to hear my honest and personal opinion?”
I nodded, bracing for the talk I would certainly receive, telling me it was a dumb idea, I was risking further injury for $60.00 for a band I’d seen play twice before. I’d heard it plenty of times from my mother. With a completely straight face, she said, “I’d go out and get pissed before the show. If you’re flogged, you won’t be able to feel the pain, right?”
I was astounded. Wouldn’t pharmacists in America get sued for saying something like that? She did, however, have a valid point and she had found the only solution to the problem, no matter whether it made it worse the next day. I decided then and there that Australia was the brilliant country I had built it up to be in my imagination. It was where I belonged. This was happening while I was sharing a fit of the giggles with the honest pharmacist, while everyone else in the pharmacy was wondering which of her drugs we’d gotten into.
After we’d calmed down and had a more of a chat, I went home, helped myself to a couple of the ice cold beers waiting in our fridge. I couldn’t follow her advice completely. I was attending the concert alone. Getting drunk would make it harder for me to find my way back home in a city I’d only lived in for a matter of weeks.
I went to Green Day and thoroughly enjoyed their show, even if it was nearly line-for-line the exact same as the one they had put on in Houston months earlier. The show, while memorable and well worth the money, was still not the highlight of my night; that honor lay firmly with the pharmacist and the country that sees things in a slightly different light, with a twinkle in its eye and a beer in its hand.