|Melbourne Cup spirit at Maia's school|
Ever wondered about the difference between on the wag, chucking a sickie, or being crook?
|one of the live sites in downtown Brisbane|
Probably not, considering most people don’t need three different phrases to describe the fact they’re not at work… Being crook means you’re actually sick, though many Australians push on and head to work whilst crook—not wanting to waste a perfectly good day off. Chucking a sickie means calling in sick, when you’re not. And being on the wag is what you do on Melbourne Cup day—it’s the moment you leave your desk to go to the washroom, change into a new dress and hat and sneak out the door—hoping your boss and co-workers never notice you left. Which in all likelihood they won’t—because they too are off changing their clothes and sneaking out doors.
|watching the race|
The Melbourne Cup is a horse race—in its 152nd running, it’s also a nationwide excuse to start partying at 11am and collectively drop $150 million at betting stations that are conveniently found just about everywhere, including street corners. Maia was the only person in our family to lay a bet (ah, yes the Ozzie school system…) though her horse didn’t fare so well and placed twelfth. Her teacher did better in the staff betting pool—and came away with the prize money and a bottle of wine.
|street corner betting station|
It’s called “The Race the Stops the Nation”. And it truly is. There were several live sites in the downtown area where the booze was flowing and people were dressed to the nines.
The race may just characterise Australia better than any other event. Skipping work to bet to excess on a sport many know little about (though this gambling excess fits in with the fact Australians are the world’s heaviest gamblers, by a hefty margin) and then drinking to excess—all without apology or a worry.