Land Of The LETS Green Dollar
Copyright � James Taris


John Grant and Lorraine. Lorraine would often say,
"Some people have silly children. My mother was one of them."

16. Wednesday, April 9
(Christchurch ... Timaru

Taxi Driver From Hell

The taxi arrived at 7.25am, but there was no need to worry because the bus stop was only 5 minutes away. Yeah right! I got the taxi driver from hell!

Murray (#65) seemed harmless enough. He helped me put my luggage in the boot, and just before we left, Averill told me not to pay for the fare because she'd just use her account. No worries, I thought. After all, she was a cabbie too (same company) so I imagined that I'd be well looked after. Yeah right!

No sooner had I sat in the passenger seat, Murray was filling in the receipt. And as he took off, he passed it over to me to sign. I quickly glanced at it, then paused with pen in hand.

"I'd prefer to sign it after we put a price on it," I said.

There was an extended silence. About a minute later Murray said, "That's strange."

After such a long pause, I wasn't sure what he was referring to.

"What's strange?" I asked.

"That you won't sign the receipt."


"You're saying that you don't trust me."

"No, I'm not saying that," I said, even though that's exactly what I was saying. "It's just that it's good business to know exactly what I'm signing for. This isn't my money, so I need to know there won't be any mistakes made. I'd feel very uncomfortable leaving and not knowing what expense I'd left Averill with."

"Do you really think I'd rip off one of my own work mates?" he said.

"You're incredible," I said, starting to get annoyed. "I can't even believe we're having this conversation. There's no way known I'm going to sign a blank cheque. But if you like, tell me how much it'll cost, and I'll sign it."

"But I can't tell you until we get there!" he said in a raised voice.

"That's exactly what I'm saying too," I said.

It didn't end there. We continued challenging each other all the way until we finally got to my destination.

"Five dollars 80 cents," he said sarcastically. "Is that OK with you?"

"Not a problem," I said as I wrote the amount and signed the receipt.

It was only 7.35am, and the bus wasn't due for another 10 minutes. Averill said that the bus stopped at the Tram Stop in the square, but I didn't see any signs saying Atomic Shuttle anywhere. There were a couple of buses just 30 metres further up. But there was also another bus 50 metres behind us. I didn't want to be lugging 30 kgs. of luggage to and fro, so I pushed for some confirmation.

"I can't see any sign saying Atomic Shuttle bus stop?" I said to Murray.

"I was told to bring you to the Tram Stop, and this is it," he said without any interest in helping me out.

"Don't do this to me," I said in a panic. "You can't just leave me here without knowing for sure that I'm in the right place."

"This is the Tram Stop," he said again in a raised voice.

"But is it the Atomic Shuttle stop?" I said as I sat defiantly in the passenger seat. "Drive me to those buses up ahead."

So he immediately put the meter back on and drove ahead 30 metres. The bus driver was from another company, but assured us that the Atomic Shuttle bus did, in fact, stop opposite the Tram Stop.

"That's what I've been trying to tell him," Murray shouted, trying to get some sympathy from whoever he could.

So he turned the cab around and took me to the bus stop. He then grabbed the receipt again and increased the amount by 90 cents.

"Do you want me to initial that?" I asked.

"No. You've already signed it."

I unloaded the luggage from the boot and wished him a good day as he started off. He only traveled a couple of metres before stopping. Then he got out of the cab and came walking towards me.

What does he want now, I thought.

"You forgot your bag in the car," he said, as he handed me a plastic bag with my plane ticket, contacts list and passport.

Boy, was I glad that I'd told him to have a good day, and not what I was really thinking!

Salvaged Radio Interview And Carpark Prang

At 10.30am, right on schedule, the bus pulled over at the corner of King Street and Otipua Road ion Timaru, where Lorraine Sprosen was waiting for me.

As soon as I got to her place, I rang the radio station (Classic Hits 99 FM) to see if I could still be interviewed. The receptionist connected me straight through to Brendan. I explained that I'd made over 20 calls the day before but I'd had the wrong number. Then when I told him the number I'd been calling, he told me I'd been dialing their fax number! No wonder I couldn't get through.

Because of our radio interview blunder in Masterton, I thought I'd pre-empt any assumptions and asked Brendan if he could give me a copy of the interview once it was over. This was fine by him, and he suggested we get straight down to the radio station. In small towns like Timaru, everything is just 5 minutes away, so in no time at all I was sitting in front of a microphone being interviewed. It wasn't live, so he was able to edit the original 2 minute 20 second conversation back to exactly 2 minutes. Then he handed me my tape. He was a young guy, but handled his work very professionally.

"You run a pretty tight schedule," I said referring to the brevity of the interview. "When I was in Cape Town, they interviewed me for 45 minutes".

"Forty-five minutes?" Brendan said, trying to figure out how the subject of LETS could possibly be stretched out that far.

I found Lorraine to be a very active lady who, at 77, was much fitter than many women 20 years younger. She had many stories to share, including a recent one where she'd found herself locked out of the house and decided to climb in through an unlocked window, landing on the floor headfirst!

"Some people have silly children," she said. "My mother was one of them."

And she said it again later that day after trying to back out of a tight parking space outside the radio station, straight into the bumper bar of another car! Luckily there was no damage done to either cars, but it did rattle her a little. So I took over the driver's wheel and got it right away from the 2 cars she'd wedged it between, which was a great relief for Lorraine.

Timaru LETS Presentation ... Model Event

My presentation was due to be given at 2pm, so we went directly to the venue after lunch. Timaru Alternative Trading System (TATS) had only 40 members, yet we still got about 20 people to the meeting. The meeting had been well promoted. Apart from the radio interview which had been organized, they'd also ran a public notice in the local newspaper �

Timaru Alternative Trading System - INVITES THE PUBLIC to meet international traveler and speaker, James Taris, to a public meeting at the Caroline Bay Community Lounge, on Wednesday, April 9, at 2pm. James will speak on the subject of local currency and trading by individuals and how to enhance your life. Gold coin donation. Afternoon tea provided.

A large sign outside the main entrance directed the public inside, where 3 well-designed leaflets were handed to all non-members.

1) A 3-fold leaflet, LETS Work Together - Trade with Timaru Green Dollars, gave a very good explanation of how Green Dollars worked, and included a form which could be handed in, or posted, for further information.

2) A 2-fold leaflet, Introducing Timaru Alternative Trading System Inc., gave answers to 15 commonly asked questions about TATS.

3) A full-sized A4 sheet, had the Membership Application Form on one side, and a 14-point list of Terms and Conditions on the reverse side.

Alongside these leaflets were a couple of good sings.

1) (DONATION NOTICE) - A Gold Coin Donation will enable us to continue our Green Dollar work in our community � thank you. (A shallow bowl was next to it to collect the donations.)

2) (LETS Trading Day Notice) - I am a local Green Dollar Member. Why pay cash when you could trade?

And just when I began my introduction, I realized there was a journalist from the local newspaper in attendance. She was soon joined by a newspaper photographer who took numerous photos, and managed to make me feel just a little self-conscious. After the presentation I learned that they would be running the story in the newspaper's Lifestyle section at some time in the future.

So when it comes to promoting your LETS group, and getting the maximum exposure possible, you can't do much more than what they did in Timaru. Well-done TATS. (Of the 3 guests that attended my presentation, two of them became members the following day.)

Spin Doctors And Hokey-Pokey

I was due to be picked up later that night by Dave Robbie and taken to Invercargill. Unfortunately, Dave had run into car problems and would be held up for another day. So I was able to have a relaxing night at Lorraine's. TV took up the bulk of it. One show, Spin Doctors, was particularly interesting. It was a New Zealand comedy series which included up to the minute current issues, such as SARS and the political struggles of the National Party leader, Bill English. In fact, so current that these topics were only days old! So it was fascinating to comprehend how such a program could go from script to screen in just a few days. Amazing!

I was also introduced to Hokey-Pokey ice cream, and as Lorraine noticed I was struggling with some foreign objects in my mouth, she said, "You can eat those. They're caramel balls."

"I thought they were pips," I said ignorantly, then began to chew them with confidence.

This article is taken from the ebook,
Land of the LETS Green Dollar

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