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A Story from the Bannockburn Lions Club for Volunteers Week

The Bannockburn Lions are like the Scarlet Pimpernel – “you see them here, you see them there, you see them everywhere” (with apologies to Baroness Orczy).   Life’s adventures are many fold and on this occasion they were at the Avalon Air Show raising funds for the Bannockburn community by parking cars.

The day started with the Team Leader despatching a colleague and I at dawn to an area where entry was allowed only on display of a coloured sticker on the windscreen.  There were several of these restricted car parks each designated by a different coloured sticker.   These were for aircrew, VIPs, business operators and so on.   No hoi polloi in the Restricted car parks, if you don’t mind.   But trouble was afoot.   

The combination of darkness, head lights and coloured stickers seemed designed to torment the average car parking attendant.  Peering desperately into the glare of the approaching convoy, it was almost impossible to see the stickers at all let alone their colour.   With terrier like doggedness we sought to land the cars in their allotted spaces:   the BMW i8 - definitely belongs in the VIP car park;   the late model Kia Cerato SLi - hmmm probably belongs in the red car park;   the Great Wall ute - definitely goes down the back of the blue car park somewhere. And so it went on.

With the Sun now above the horizon, we gazed contentedly on our achievement.   The cars ended up in very neat lines, expertly parked, nose to tail as though on parade.   Most satisfactory.   Except that their coloured stickers resembled more a rainbow than the disciplined colour co-ordination anticipated by our Team Leader, and the BMW i8 belonged to a baked potato stall, not a VIP.   Perhaps it didn’t really matter, some drivers totally disdained my offer of assistance and just told me to go away (or words to that affect) and parked wherever they liked.   The USAF aircrew were prominent among these wayward drivers heading, no doubt, for their F22 Raptor yearning for the thrust of its throbbing engines beneath their seat.   

Shortly after sunrise, a lady in a blue caterers uniform approached me and asked if I had seen her car, which was a red sedan.   She had arrived in the very early hours and could not see the sign posts scattered around the airfield to aid parking.   She was lost, she said.   Quite possibly I had seen her car but as I surveyed the acres of vehicles around us it became clear that red sedans were quite popular this year.   Half an hour later she was still trudging up and down the lanes hopefully pressing the central locking button, and talking to herself in what sounded suspiciously like damnation of car parking attendants. 

Later in the day, we were assigned to the main public car park which was expected to nest 10,000 or so vehicles with their expectant passengers.   One family lurched out of their car having been safely parked by my guiding hand.   They declared accusingly that it had taken two and half hours from Barwon Heads to the car park and what was I going to do about it?   They seemed to hold the Lions in general and me in particular personally responsible for this monstrosity.  Protected only by my Lions Club day-glo parking vest I backed discretely away and beckoned a rumbling eight cylinder Chevolet SS into its slot between me and them.

The long journey from the suburbs had clearly taken some people short.   Leaping from their cars they confronted me with demand:   “where’s the nearest toilet?”   The truth is I didn’t have a clue and pointed vaguely towards the aircraft noise over the next hill, smiled sweetly and wished them well.   Some never made that far and a bobbing head or two could occasionally be seen behind a distant row of cars.   After a few of these inquiries I was crossing my legs myself wondering where my own relief was coming from.

Some citizens appear to have come to the air show bearing injuries.   It seems there were many accidents that weekend affecting people’s capacity to walk.   Indeed the severity of these disabilities seemed directly proportional to the car park’s distance from the main Airshow entrance.   Drivers pleaded torn hamstrings, twisted ankles, a ruptured ACL and even a lame grandma, declaring that they could not possible walk that distance and must be allowed to park closer to the entrance.   When I obstinately declared “no disabled sticker, no further”, these souls suddenly experienced a recovery of Lourdes proportions and sprang forth from their cars striding off towards the ticket booths beyond the horizon, muttering oaths about my parents.   One gentleman, however, detecting my scepticism thrust his leg out of the car with a challenging glare, displaying his fetlock wrapped in a moon boot and layers of bandages daring me to refuse him entry.   I would not have been surprised if he hurt himself on purpose.

My favourite clients for the day, however, were the elderly couple in a rattling Kingswood who, by their own admission, had battled their way from Balwyn for three hours.   Safely parked in the middle of the paddock, nose to tail, and with vehicles crowing around them, their destination at the ticket booths was almost in sight over the next hill.   They remained in their car, calmly unwrapped their sandwiches and reached for the thermos flask, clearly with no intention of moving.    “He’s always liked planes”, she said.   

I wonder if the lady in blue uniform ever found her car or is she still out there in the paddock roaming like the Ancient Mariner whose “….. soul hath been Alone on a wide wide sea: so lonely 'twas, that God himself scarce seemed there to be.” 

Such it is to be a Lion.

David Cotsell
On behalf of the Bannockburn & District Lions.

Ph: 0427 680 901


Lions Phil Hanan and Harold Moyle