Snap Shot #28: Bowling Buzz


It starts with a cab fare. I accept a job from Bondi to Maroubra with several drop offs along the way. When I arrive at the pick up address, there is a woman organising a group of young adults. I can’t help but notice how beautiful she is. She’s naturally attractive but there seems to be something else that radiates from within. I try to pay attention when she explains that I have four passengers going to different locations. Oh – and by the way – they each have an acquired brain injury. They’ve just been at a gathering at Head East, a non profit organisation which helps such people in the Eastern suburbs. Right. Off we go then. The trip turns out to be a lot more fun than I ever would’ve imagined. The guy in the front passenger seat is especially entertaining. Although it’s obvious that he’s not functioning at a level to be expected of someone in his twenties, he still manages to be quite witty. Once I’ve dropped them all off, I notice how good I feel. Something about being around these guys makes me feel good. A seed is planted. Over the next few days I keep thinking about the experience. In the end, I decide to go back to Head East and volunteer my services in any way that is useful. The beautiful manager, Bindi, is surprised but happy to see me. Yes – they’ll take whatever help they can get. Am I interested in taking some of their clients bowling? Sure – why not. I am paired with Dave, another first time volunteer. Every second Wednesday for about six months we take three clients bowling in Mascot. There are two men and one woman, all in their late twenties. Their stories and conditions are different – except for the fact that, at sometime in their young lives, they had an accident that left them brain damaged. At times it is heartbreaking seeing how they struggle. One of the men battles with depression and actually misses a couple of sessions. It’s just too hard for him. Every time we pick them up, we can see the relief of their parents. For the next few hours, they get some respite from the challenges of caring for their afflicted children. The bowling itself is great fun – especially the joy on the clients’ faces when they manage a strike. Afterwards we always have a post bowling snack – usually involving hot chips. This is where Dave and I discover some of the more interesting things about our three clients, often realising that there’s a lot more to them than we might have assumed. You can tell they love surprising us – especially with any talk about sex. When I mention to other people what I’m doing with Head East, they often remark that it’s so good of me to volunteer my time to help them out. And each time this is said, I feel guilty. The truth is – I’m not doing it just for these brain injured people. I’m also doing it for me. I really enjoy the feeling I have in their company. It’s a buzz.


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