Shark Dad

June 2013

After visiting Australia for the first time at 14 years old my one and only life goal had quickly become to get there again, and by any means necessary. So, when I was 19 I got into an exchange program through Ryerson University.

The next few months passed at whirlwind speed, trying to figure out what in the hell I was going to do with my stuff, my boyfriend, and apartment. My roommate and I decided that I would move out for the time being (who knew if I would ever come home) and I would put all my stuff into storage. Ok, there’s the plan.

Unfortunately, in the weeks leading up I was more focused on being in love, and making as much money as humanly possible, so worrying about packing was near the bottom of my list of worries. Underneath such topics as: “make sure you bring your favourite shampoo because who knows if the Aussie’s will have it” and “can I bring my vibrator?????”

The next thing I knew it was the day I was leaving and my apartment was a disaster and I had barely packed anything in my suitcases.

The day that quickly became known as: The Day My Suitcases Nearly Killed Me.

Which is how I ended up at the airport with two hugely overweight bags.

Lindy (my mom), Owen (the boyfriend) and I had driven over to the airport together (nearly missing the flight all together because I had photocopied my passport, but then left my passport in the printer. That we had packed. And put in the storage locker…) so already tensions were high and I’m pretty sure I’d already begun crying like a lunatic.

We met Markus (my dad) at the airport.

My dad and I are huge travellers. Now. But at this time, I was still a novice and didn’t quite understand what it meant to pack light. So I had packed my life. I wanted my stuff, I wanted my room. I was terrified. Terrified to move around the world by myself to the most isolated city in the world and be completely alone.

So I justified it with copious amounts of stuff.

The lady working at the airport told us that my bags were so heavy that I wouldn’t even be able to pay an overweight fee and get them on – they were that overweight. Something like 40 pounds or so. Each. And so she left us with two options: get a third bag (you could have two free ones at this point in time, the good ol’ days before baggage fees) or open up these bad boys and get rid of a whole bunch of it.

We opted for a combo, and got two new bags. One to leave stuff in for Lindy to bring home, and a third that I absolutely had to bring with me.

At this point, tensions were high, I was still crying (what was I doing, how could I leave my whole life here), Lindy was still stressed from the passport losing scenario, and Owen was, well, trying to diffuse the situation and hurry me up before I missed my flight.

But Markus, oh Markus. Lindy lovingly refers to this part of the story as when my dad turned into a shark. Here the three of us were, on the floor of a cramped airport in January, Lindy pulling objects out and asking me if I really needed them: three jumbo bottles of shampoo (“they might not have shampoo there!”), a wooden box (“I’ve had it on my shelf for as long as I can remember!”), two different sets of sheets (“they told me to bring blankets!”), and a frying pan (I have no words).

Markus would circle around us, teeth barred, as we went through each object. Every few times around the group he would pounce, jumping in and yelling about packing light which would only make me cry more, Lindy more frustrated, Owen looking miserable and ready to run, and slow the process down.

Eventually I made it to the plane, with three overweight suitcases (but not too overweight) and eyes so swollen that I could barely see.

I vowed when I was on that plane to never, ever let that happen again. Never again would I wait until the morning of moving to Australia for at least six months to pack. Never again would I have three bags (when I eventually got to my apartment in Perth, the man “helping” me made me carry all three of my huge bags up six flights of stairs to “teach me a lesson on overpacking”). Never again would I have to deal with shark dad – who may be the craziest dad of all.

Kate PaddisonComment