As I walked over the Sydney Harbour Bridge this afternoon, I noticed that some love locks and in-scripted padlocks have begun to appear, locked tightly onto the security mesh.
Padlocks on bridges are nothing new. Couples have been attaching them as symbols of their love for some time now – the sweethearts’ names or initials are inscribed on the padlock, and then its key is thrown away to symbolize unbreakable love. In fact I witnessed the mass of them on the Pont Des Arts in Paris recently – which is sadly falling down under the immense weight.
For those couples who have clamped their love hearts to bridges all over the world, those padlocks symbolize more than a piece of metal, they are public declarations of love.
We often read stories about random acts of love – spontaneous gestures or life-saving events that serve to remind us of the nature of true romance.
I’m not married to someone anyone could ever describe as a romantic, but romantic gestures are not all about flowers or chocolates, or even padlocks. They can be random declarations of love that shoot straight from the heart, and they are even more meaningful when they are uncharacteristic.
A few years ago I was ‘let go’ from a job, which is Australian-speak for getting ‘fired’. It wasn’t a totally unexpected turn of events. I was coming to the end of a fraught three-month trial period, the job hadn’t been a good fit from the start and there had been certain extenuating circumstances. I’m not arrogant enough to say my dismissal was unjustified… but it was completely fucking unjustified! Worst still, the situation was handled very unprofessionally by the company.
On the day I was handed my notice, I was taken to what was known as the ‘firing’ room in the presence of the HR Manager – a girl barely old enough to have finished teething – and I was forced to do the walk of shame back through a full, open-plan office, where the average age was no more than twenty.
I was expected to fulfil my notice period, as if nothing had happened, which was mortifying because the hardest part of the role prior to that thirty minutes of hell had been finding things to do.
So I grabbed my phone from my desk and walked around the corner to find the ability to breathe again and promptly dissolved into an uncharacteristic flood of tears. I didn’t know it then, but that meeting was to trigger two years of anxiety issues afterwards. I am not an inherently over-confident person and the blow crushed the few morsels of pride and self-confidence I had mustered up to that point in my life and, honestly, if there had been a bridge close by, I probably would have jumped off it right then, such was the level of my shame.
Instead I called the old man and blubbed down the phone like a frightened child. I explained to him what had eventuated and how I was expected to stay to work out my notice to earn my final weeks of pay.
Anyone who reads this blog regularly, knows that the old man is not renowned for his generosity with money – we don’t call him ‘tight-ass’ in this family for nothing. But he listened quietly as I poured out my woes, grief and my shame and then he told me to follow his instructions carefully, and to go back into that office with my head held high, collect my things and leave.
It was a random act of love that I will never forget.
The total, inner devastation I felt that day propelled me to write my very first blog post. That first post was about the inner crisis I experienced as a result of what happened that day, so in a way it was to be a defining experience in my life that has since brought me immense fulfilment.
Funny how things turn out.
You see, ‘declarations of love’ don’t have to cost anything, don’t have to come in expensive little blue boxes with white ribbon or in the form of flowers, or in fact anything material; they are often simple actions, executed in those times of crisis where that special person puts your needs ahead of their own just when you need them to most.
Have you ever experienced a truly random declaration of love?