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06 November 2007

Why am I surprised?

Last week I made the now routine business trip up to Sydney, which began with a trip on the Skybus shuttle to the airport. This trip is actually made in two legs: a shuttle pick-up at our apartment to the Spencer Street bus terminus from where the Skybus departs to the airport 24 by 7.

It was about 10 minutes into the second leg of the trip that I realised that I must have left my mobile phone on the shuttle. "This will add extra, unneeded, spice to the trip", I thought, since a number of the meetings I had arranged relied on phone confirmations or finalising of arrangements depending on the time of my arrival. I had my laptop with me, but was not sure whether I had stored all the phone numbers I would require on it. I decided however that the best would be to hire a mobile as soon as I got to Melbourne Airport, since I would probably have a touch more time there rather than in Sydney once I arrived. I was not that concerned for the phone itself, and decided to tell the driver of the bus of my faux-pas immediately, hoping that he could alert the driver of the shuttle, who in turn could recover and leave it at the Skybus kiosk for me to collect when I returned to the bus depot in the evening. The driver did not seem at all concerned and only asked me which shuttle I came in on.

The driver's attitude assured me that the phone would in all likelihood be recovered. Australia has a mobile penetration rate in excess of 100% i.e. everyone has one and their theft is not common. (Only a few weeks ago my colleague Robert went to pick up his son's phone at the tram depot after the teenager forgot it on the tram he took home from school!) On alighting from the bus I asked the bus driver whether he had received any news about whether the phone was found. The driver's response however left me speechless: "The next Skybus is due at the Airport in 10 minutes", he said, "the driver of that bus is Tony, he has your phone. If you wait right here where I dropped you, Tony is expecting you and will give you your phone as soon as he arrives". I was so surprised, I could only mumble a quick "Thank You" to our driver. Sure enough ten minutes later Tony arrived, handing me the phone as soon as he brought his Skybus to a stop, allowing me to continue my business trip unaffected, except for shortening my wait at the departure gate!

Later I reflected on whether my surprise at receiving such service from a common public transport provider (this was NOT a limousine service or anything of that sort!), meant that I have not quite acclimatised to living in Australia, where not only is petty theft not common, but ordinary workers look out for their customers' best interests! The shuttle driver must have known that leaving home without a mobile phone would be problematic, and used his initiative to pass the phone to the next bus driver, even before it was reported missing, in order to ensure that there was the best chance of the phone being re-united with its owner before his departure!

Thank you Skybus for providing an excellent service, I will certainly continue to recommend you!