The art of persistence

Don't give up

I’m an Aucklander who has to travel into the city every day for work. As I need a car to attend meetings around our wonderfully connected city I keep a car park in the central city, (I'd rather not by the way - it’s painfully expensive!). This involves driving through numerous streets that have been massaged into allowing our version of mass-transit - The Bus - to have a dedicated space – The Bus Lane. I’m keen to point out early (before you switch off) that I’m not going to whine about this phenomenon – it’s the only solution to our forefathers lack of transport foresight; anyone who is waving the rail flag needs to take us to a city that has made a rail retrofit work. Or shot. For a modern sprawling city, it’s eye-wateringly expensive to install and run and is contained to very small corridors. Stepping off my soapbox my parting comment is that we are destined to co-exist on our roads and it needs to work for all motorised vehicles. Until the oil runs out and we can use them for open-air bowling lanes.

Anyway, over the last couple of years, Auckland’s key city arterials have seen these Bus Lanes (I’m going to refer to them as ‘Fine Pains’ from here on in) added to their flanks. Most are governed by time of day (i.e. Fine Pain between 7-9am) and others I’ve recently discovered are 24-hour money makers. So I was heading to the hospital (its ok, I’m fine) the other day and needed to drive past the fine institution that is the University of Auckland. I’m lucky enough to be a commerce graduate of this establishment which a) allows me the insight to classify it as ‘fine’ and b) I’ve driven past its hallowed halls for 20 years so I know the roads pretty well. Now having endured roadwork generated traffic snarl-ups for the last two years or so I was relieved to find Lower Symonds Street flowing relatively freely at 8.45am. Needing to turn left, I moved from the centre lane to the left before the lights. To my horror, 30m or so into this lane was the dreaded cameraman with his beady eyes and tripod. Impossible? There was no signage, so I kidded myself - this can’t yet be a bus-lane? Or at least not at this time of day? It was too late to switch back, and no point in stopping to debate the entrapment. So I took a close look on my return journey. No signs. Oh well I thought, I either won’t get a letter or I’ll quickly explain the oversight. The combination of a lack of signage and the much-broadcast leniency the council was taking on camera distance to traffic lights would see me right.

The fine duly arrived and my first explanation was sent – I thought I’d run with the easy option - distance to lights. A brief thank you letter arrived and an explanation that 71m from the lights constituted ample distance for lane access pre-turning at lights. Ok, they’re playing hard ball…so I went for the signage angle. Surely, this would be my trump card. Two agonising weeks later and a two-page letter arrived thanking me for my comments and observations. The thoughtful people at the council had taken the time to photograph the scene and point out the very clear signage. Initially annoyed, I studied the photographs and thought they may have been doctored. Not an option, the council may be many things, but they’re not deceitful… How did I miss the signs? I was about to pay the fine and I took one last look – something was missing… Then my eureka moment. The very thing that had caused me to get the fine was missing! With the bus out of the way, the sign was clear, but both times I drove past the sign it was concealed by a bus.

Another letter to council with the explanation finally realised my mission – a pardon! As sad as it sounds, and all for $150, but I felt like Nelson Mandela. Ok maybe more like Arthur Allan Thomas. Alright, they’re both a bit OTT but it felt bloody great to realise that you’re right and stick it back to the man. If I’d given up at the first hurdle or even the second I would be $150 poorer and unable to relay this ramble to you now… Persistence pays my friend. Don’t let the first no stop you, not even the second. I once heard that life insurance salespersons are trained to not even hear the first three no’s. As a coach, I know that the extraordinary results in life are achieved by going beyond the point that you would ordinarily stop at. So whilst this (hopefully) entertaining rumination is a small triumph in persistence I'm optimistic that it conveys my point!