The world is a stratified place. Important people get into exclusive places. Everyone else has to pay shit loads of money, or watch longingly through the fence. But there's a loophole into getting into places for free, if you're so inclined. You just need to pretend to be an important person. And people who wear hi-vis are important in the sense that they fix things no one else cares about. If you see someone in hi-vis stepping through a barricade, or marching past a bouncer, you naturally assume they're headed to fix something. This makes a hi-vis vest the keys to life.
At least, this is what my friend Sean and I had always assumed. In the photo above, he's the guy getting wine poured down his throat, on the night we decided we needed to test the theory that hi-vis turns the world into oysters. Our oysters. So the very next day we headed to Officeworks, and bought ourselves a couple of fluorescent vests, some fake walkie-talkies, and headed off for an adventure of sorts.
We started with some low hanging fruit. Where does every 12-year-old break their sneaking-in cherry? The movies. Hi-vis on, Sean and I marched straight past the guy at the front desk and turned into the first movie theatre we saw. It was a piece of cake.
The only downside was that we were at the mercy of whatever was showing at the time, which turned out to be Office Christmas Party. Surprisingly, it was okay. Although the thrill of sneaking in may have contributed to our giddiness. It was time to up the dosage.
The zoo proved more of a challenge, albeit just a psychological one. It took a good 15 minutes of loitering around the front, chain-smoking poorly rolled cigarettes, to mask our apprehension. Neither of us believed we would get in. It would not be an overstatement to say walking towards the ticket booth felt like getting off a boat on Normandy.
As it turned out, the danger was all in our heads. Ultimately, we just walked through—Sean even gave the ticket clerk a cheeky "g'day" on the way in. We couldn't believe how easy it was. As soon as we were inside we started giggling like school girls and giving actual zoo employees some how you doin' nods. Families were fooled too, because every now and then we'd get asked what time the zoo shut or directions to the monkeys.
This is me sitting by the lemur enclosure feeling disappointed. Lemurs are my favourite animal, but the exhibit was closed for some reason, which really bummed me out. A family approached assuming I was working and asked me when it would re-open, I told them I'd get management on it as soon as possible and used my fake walkie talkie to "sort it out."
There's just something about uniforms that garner an almost naïve trust. People trust uniforms. Most of us obey the word of those clad in uniforms to an almost Stanford Prison Experiment-esque degree.
As the day wore on, Sean and I grew more confident and at ease with the hi-vis vest. I'd constantly forget I was even wearing it. Getting into the zoo was more than I ever expected from our little experiment, but I'm not one to rest on my laurels. Time to see how far we could really push this thing.
We attempted to board this tourist bus to the city, but the driver was having none of it. Turns out this bus had the best security in all of Melbourne.
We hopped in an Uber back to the city and, sitting in afternoon peak hour traffic, Sean realised fucking Coldplay was playing a show that night. Perfect. Arriving at the stadium, we switched out our yellow hi-vis for orange to blend in with what every other official looking person there was wearing. You can't say we're not adaptable.
If I'm being entirely honest, getting inside wasn't exactly easy. It took a few different entrances and a lot of turnbacks, but we were only half as nervous as we should've been. See Sean sort of knew someone on the inside. We figured that if everything went badly, we'd name drop and hopefully be okay. To our surprise though it didn't go wrong. We actually got inside.
Once we scraped inside Sean sent his friend a text to come meet us. Obviously he found the vest thing ridiculous and embarrassing but he told us he'd try to hook us up with some temporary passes. At this point our story takes on a very different thesis about having friends on the inside but look, whatever, it was the vests that led us to Coldplay.
I wasn't a big fan of Coldplay before I saw them in hi-vis. But the day felt like a game changer. I left the stadium feeling a warm glow in the pit of my stomach, which I think was also the high gleaned from illegal activities and plastic vests.