Adelaide had been shopping since 28 December 2005, 12.01 am.
She sniffed. It was ridiculous really, not being able to shop before then. No exemptions to the draconian, out-dated shopping rules, not even for The Sales. It was exactly the kind of thing gave this city a Bad Name. Made it a laughing stock right around the world. How could you look cosmopolitan with all your shutters down?
It was one of the few things Adelaide couldn’t discuss with her mother. ‘Who needs to shop late every night of the week?’ her mother asked. ‘Sundays are for families,’ she said. ‘There’s only so much money to go around,’ Adelaide’s mother said. Adelaide’s mother still only had one plastic card. And that was BankCard.
Still, Adelaide thought, the midnight start did make it a littlbe bit special this year. Staying up late. Finding a park. Queuing at the doors of David Jones.
Adelaide’s heart still beat fast when she thought about those first nervous minutes. It was a gamble, a risk, starting at David Jones. Myers had more bargains, but David Jones would always sell out first.
The doors opened, the escalators were on, and Adelaide had shopped. Suitcases she hoped to use. Clothes she would fit into by the time she lost another few kilos. Shoes that would definitely stretch with time. They wouldn’t always be this tight. And anyway, at this price, it didn’t really matter if they never properly fit. They were a Bargain and nothing more needed to be said. She had promised herself an ice cream maker this year, but they were all sold out! And it was only five am! She couldn’t have shopped any faster, she consoled herself.
Adelaide loaded her bags into the car. The boot gleamed with the red sideway checks of David Jones, the Sale signs from Myers, the green of Harris Scarfes.
She closed her eyes and made a mental list of all that she had bought. She added them to the things she had gathered on Christmas Day.
How could it be that her life hadn’t changed? That she still felt hollow inside?
Adelaide shivered as she realised what it was. Just as the sales of 2004/2005 had been spoiled by the events of Boxing Day 2004 (that tsunami really was such a terrible thing), so too had the 2005/2006 sales been spoiled by the events of Boxing Day 2005.
Vale KP. Adelaide wiped at her eyes. Who could believe that Kerry Packer was dead?
What a great Australian. Donated a whole wing of a hospital he had. Adelaide bit at her lips. He was right what he said about taxes. It was better that he minimised what he paid. He knew better than the government where health money should be spent.
And it didn’t stop there. Revitalised cricket, he had. Because he had a deep-seated passion for the game. Even Kim Beazley had good things to say about the lovable old Goanna. And if even the Labor Party, that party of the people, was behind the media mogul man then didn’t that just prove what a great man he really must have been.
Adelaide wiped her eyes again.
The shopping was easier this year of course, Adelaide let herself think. You didn’t have the guilt of spending your money while all those poor people drowned. Adelaide shook her head. No, it was much easier this year. She allowed herself a smile. Kerry Packer was the ultimate bargain hunter after all. He wouldn’t begrudge her time out for a bit of a spending spree. Adelaide didn’t really believe those people who wrote that he had a lot of things, but wasn’t always a happy man. People wrote all sorts of silly things.
Adelaide closed her boot, got into the car, checked behind her, reversed. She turned the radio on, but it was too crackly and she turned it off again.
She was at the bottom of the car park now, putting her pre-paid ticket in the machine and still, the hollow feeling hadn’t left. The tsunami, Kerry Packer’s death. Adelaide shook her head wondering what would spoil the sales next Boxing Day.