Australia: the land of kangaroos, counterclockwise toilet water, and Steve Irwin. Or at least that's what the internet says it's made of. But what happens when you actually go down under and see that majestic island for yourself?

Tourists were asked: "When you visited Australia, what was the most unexpected thing you saw there?" These are some of the best answers.

Two homeless old men who saw us taking pictures in downtown Sydney and invited us to come meet their "friend named Wombat who was more reliable than their drug dealer." They took us to a tree in Hyde park with a hole in it where there was a ring-tailed possum sleeping that they had befriended and we could pet. They introduced us to "Wombat", told us to have a nice day, smiled, and walked away without asking for a thing. I've never seen such well-intentioned, healthy, happy homeless men. America needs to get on that.


The gulls are SUPER aggressive. Those guys get a foot away from you, yell at you, and then 3 distract you while one steals food off your plate. (They actually got a piece of tuna off my wife's plate this way.)


No kangaroos. I was led to believe that kangaroos were roaming the streets.


I used to think the best days of my life might involve marriage, children, maybe career success.

Then visiting my brother in Perth I saw a pelican do a massive fly-by poop on a toddler's head. Game over.


I was struck by the level to which Aussies identified with the particular state/city they lived in. It was extremely common to have people introduce themselves by saying "I'm a Sydneysider" or "I'm a Queenslander" in the early parts of a conversation, particularly when meeting new people.


Free BBQ grills everywhere. In city parks, national parks, rest stops both in cities and in the middle of nowhere. There's probably more BBQ grills than public toilets in Australia.


The animals are different colours. I spent a whole Saturday afternoon walking around a park looking at black swans and black and white crows of some sort, admiring their feathers.


Frogs in the toilet was a surprise. Increased numbers of frogs when flushing was a bigger surprise. You couldn't see the water for the frogs.


How quiet and polite everyone was.

Every time I've ever met an Australian on vacation (especially in Bali) they have been drunk and screaming. Its been the case so often in so many places I thought that everyone from Australia was like that.


The lack of crime in Australia. I was watching the news there and their biggest "crime" was a family finding bullet holes on their home after coming back from a trip. In LA, that happens like everyday and it only matters if someone is home and gets hit by a bullet.


Everybody I met was happy. Coming from Glasgow, Scotland, this was a massive culture shock.


40 degrees C, so hot that the AIR is hot, as in it felt like you were walking with a heater in your face and there in the square was the biggest Christmas tree I had seen in my life.

Previous to that I lived in Canada so it was very off putting. It's been three years and Christmas/ New Years still just feels like garbage here.


How close you could get to the wildlife in wildlife parks. I didn't really expect to be feeding kangaroos, wallabies, and emus from my hand.


Moved to Australia from NZ at age 14, and of all things I remember being astonished at how huge the sky seemed, because the land was so flat and vast compared to where I'd come from. The horizon just stretched on forever!


At restaurants, or what I thought seemed like restaurants, I had to go up to the counter or wherever to place my order. I didn't always feel like I knew the proper system for getting served.


The coolest thing I think though was how well British and Australian attitudes mesh. It's like we were designed to take the piss out of each other.


The price of food, especially produce. At first I thought it was because so much would have to be imported, but the vast majority of produce I bought was from Australia. I discussed this a bit with some Australians and Americans and we wondered if this was the real cost of food, if you pay everyone in the chain an actual living wage, instead of depending on underpaid migrant workers.


How much roadkill there is! We had a clause in our insurance that we couldn't drive after dusk because the chance of hitting something is so high.


The moon is backwards!

To explain, in the northern hemisphere when the moon is waxing, it fills up from the right side to the left, then when it wanes it goes from the same direction. In Australia, on the other hand, the waxing crescent starts on the left.

It took me a moment to realize what exactly I was seeing, and I was absolutely tickled pink once I figured out why it was the way it was.


The distances between cities. Holy. You can drive for 7 hours straight and pass through 3 measly cities with ~5000 inhabitants.


Went in to buy more appropriate footwear in my first few days, and I was convinced the shopgirl was flirting with me. Bought something else in another shop, and more flirting. Another shop and the same thing.

Turns out they weren't flirting. They were just naturally being really friendly. Smiling and being interested in me for no other reason than because that's just how you do things.

I ended up taking a job going door to door selling things (backpacking yay!) and I was amazed how few times I was told to go away.


I'm a Black guy from America. The lack of racism was palpable. Even my 60 year old mother was like "I feel so normal here. No one is treating me bad or good. They are treating me like a person."


I love that airports in Australia have a distinctive pre 9/11 feel to them. You don't need a ticket to go to the gate, you can bring water through security, the security guards aren't jerks, etc. It made me realize how much flying has changed in the US (and Europe) in the past 20 years.


I knew you drive on the opposite side of the road there, but I did not expect the escalators to be opposite as well. You go up the left side, that was cool.


How casual Australians act around local wildlife was the most surprising thing for me when I went there.

Lots of little jellyfish in the water close to Sydney harbor? Guy walks into the water, picks one up with both hands, walks up to us like "Guys I haven't seen those before. Anyone know what kind that is?"

Cliff jumping with Aussies. See water below us foam up a bit. "Looks like sharks. Ah it's probably just small ones. They won't do anything."

Big spider inside a construction site I was working on. Like, big enough to drop a magical sword if you kill it. Asked my boss about it. "Nah leave her alone, it's the house spider. She's not dangerous!" When I asked whether "not dangerous" meant those kinds of spiders aren't venomous he answered "Nah we'd still have to drive you to the emergency room. But like, not as fast as we'd have to with other spiders." Ok thanks boss.

Stuff like that really makes me wonder how many of the people I've met there are still alive today.


Visited Australia and New Zealand two years ago. The most unexpected, most jarring thing I've seen is how disciplined the people are compared to my country, sadly. It was really peaceful, clean and quiet. A breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively.


A goth. Seriously that country is about a 1000 degrees centigrade and there's a guy walking down the street in Brisbane in a black leather outfit. That's dedication.


Drive through alcohol shop.


When I visited Australia I was really careful not to destroy anything from the nature or hurt any animal because I thought that was something very special and important to them. After a week I saw some guy shoot a kangaroo in the face. That was pretty surprising. I thought kangaroo was a national pride in Australia but apparently you can pretty much just go out and shoot them if you want.


I remember getting off the plane and just noticing that the colors were all different. Felt like the sun was brighter and the sky bluer. Might have been because we left Germany in winter and arrived in summer, but also, the silvery green of the Eucalyptus trees is a color we don't get here.



Some of this material has been edited for clarity.

Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay

Now that college has become a standard requirement for so many jobs and careers, there is a massive push by high schools to get their graduating students accepted and enrolled at an undergraduate college.

On the whole, that's undoubtedly a great thing. A more educated workforce will be prepared to solve the most complex issues facing human beings in the next several decades.

Keep reading... Show less
Image by Gianni Crestani from Pixabay

*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.

The person on the other end of a 911 call has a truly remarkable job.

For those who don't play that professional role, we hope to never encounter the 911 call interaction. But if we do find ourselves making that call, the moment is an anomaly in our lives.

The chaos, the panic, the racing heart, and the desperation are all emotions we, ideally, don't experience on a regular basis.

But for the operator on the other end, our call is one in a long line of calls they've received all day, and all the workdays before that one.

It's difficult to imagine being embedded in those uniquely urgent, emergency moments all the time.

Some Redditors who are on the other end of that call shared their experiences on the job.

WhimsicalxxButcher asked, "911 dispatchers what has been your most creepy/unnerving call?"

For a few, the most unnerving moments were the calm callers.

There was something just so eerie about how level-headed the faceless human being on the other end could be through such a desperate, tragic moment.

Almost Clinical 

"I had a friend who worked as a 911 dispatcher and he always said the worst call he ever had was a ~20 year old kid who committed suicide by mixing a bunch of chemicals together in his car to produce hydrogen sulfide gas."

"He said that the most unnerving part was hearing him calmly listing off the chemicals, the type of gas produced, and the effects of hydrogen sulfide on the body (namely the almost instant death it causes at high concentrations)."

"He ended the call by providing the address of the parking lot he was in and saying that nobody should approach the vehicle without hazmat equipment."

"Apparently after that there was a whooshing sound as he dumped the last chemical into the mix, and then the line went dead silent aside for a quiet fizzing noise."

"I know that call screwed him up because he almost never talks about stuff that happens to him on the job. He quit a few months later to go into construction management, and frankly I can't blame him."

-- iunoyou

Planned Out 

"A woman called me, saying she was going to kill herself. She was gassing herself. Gave me her name & address then said she was just going to lie down and 'go to sleep.' And stopped responding to me."

"I kept the line open, trying to get her to speak to me, and eventually heard officers forcing their way in to find her body. I guess she just wanted someone to find her body."

-- mozgw4

Before It Set In 

"When I got a call from a 6 year old who got home from school and laid down to take a nap with his dad. His dad never woke up."

"The kid was so calm when calling it broke my heart."

"I ended up leaving dispatch shortly after. I was good at compartmentalizing the job for the year I was doing it, but it would've broken me in the long run."

-- tasha7712

Other 911 operators were unfortunate enough to receive a call from the very last person they wanted to hear from: a loved one.

These dispatchers' unique position gave them the unexpected access to a family member or friend at their most dire moments.

No More of That 

"My family member is a long time first responder, and 'retired' into doing dispatch. He heard the address (someone else was taking the call) and realized it was his daughter's house."

"He rushed over there just in time to see them wheeling her body out. Overdose."

"Five months later, he was called to his ex-wife's place because his grandson (son of the daughter who recently passed) had his door locked, lights on, but wasn't responding to his grandma."

"He broke the door down and found him deceased in bed. Overdose."

"He's very stoic after years of all sorts of traumatic situations but my heart hurts whenever I think of what all of this must have felt like. Like sand through your fingers."

-- bitchyhouseplant

Knowing the Address

"Not me, but my grandma. I was sitting in the dispatch office, (very small one only 2 dispatchers including my grandma) but she put out a dispatch that there was a gun shot from my best friends address."

"My heart sank to my stomach and broke later that day. He committed suicide."

-- OntaiSenpuu

When it Happened 

"My uncle passing away. Worked as a small town dispatcher for a year or so. Had a bunch of messed up stuff happen on shift, but this call came in in the still hours of the night. Small town, so not many calls after midnight."

"I answered and recognized the name and address on caller id. Aunt was in a frenzy so didn't recognize my voice. I remained calm and got ems and fire rolling to them, but by my aunt's own words he was already blue."

"I went thru debriefing and mandated therapy for a couple other things that happened, but never really talked to anyone about this. I just try not to think about it."

"That was the call I figured out I needed to find a different job."

-- dangitjon

Finally, some simply had a front row seat to sudden tragedy.

These operators were flies on the wall when disaster struck. They never asked to witness what they witnessed, but sometimes that came with the territory.

A Holiday Tragedy 

"My mom is a 911 dispatcher. Early on she said one Christmas Eve while working she got a call from an elderly lady who's husband had just collapsed(and died) from a heart attack and in the background Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas music was playing on blast."

"The lady was screaming and crying and begging for her husband to wake up but my mom could hear his gurgling in his last breathes. She doesn't listen to or watch Alvin and the chipmunks since."

-- Blueflowerbluehair

What is it About Christmas?

"Christmas night. 911 call with crying child on the other end. A neighbor had run her car over her mom during a domestic."

"The mom crawled to the porch bleeding and the child saw the car coming back. I had her hide quietly in a closet with the cordless phone."

"The 10 year old child was crying and screamed that she hated Christmas. She was afraid of the police when they got there."

"I kept her on the phone until she felt safe enough to give the phone to an officer. I almost fainted after that call was over. Had nightmares for a while."

-- 2FunBoofer

Close to Home 

"Not a dispatcher but I handle radio communications for the Coast Guard. One night I was on the radio and got a call from an 11 year old kid whose boat had started to sink. He was out with his dad and 6 year old brother."

"They had been hit by another boat and his father got knocked unconscious. I remember the entire conversation up until the radio had gone underwater."

"They ended up finding his dad floating on his back alive but the two boys didn't make it. That one really fu**ed with me because my two littlest brothers were around the same age as the youngest."

-- HIRSH2243

A Horrible Clock 

"Another one that stays with me was the man who called in. It was the anniversary of his adult son having hanged himself. He'd now come home to find his wife had done the same."

"That date is always going to be a black day for him."

-- mozgw4

If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at

Again, we hope you never have to use the 911 call in your life. Nobody wants to be involved in a sudden emergency or a tragic incident.

But hopefully, if you do, an operator like one of these thoughtful, sensitive Redditors is on the other end.

Image by Nguyen Dinh Lich from Pixabay

When I was moving on from middle school to high school my parents had me tested for the "gifted" program. By some miracle I passed and was accepted. And then I turned it down. Everyone was irritated. "This will pave the way for any college you want! You'll learn so much!" his path will set you up for life!" Every adult tried valiantly to sell me this merchandise but in my gut I just wasn't buying it. So I "settled" a level below, merely advanced classes. And upon reflection... it was the best choice I ever made.

Redditor u/dauntlessdaisy was wondering how far some in life got by asking... For those of you who were considered "gifted" in school, what are you doing with your life now?
Keep reading... Show less
Image by Markus Spiske from Pixabay

There's a million things that can happen to you while out on on the road.

Keep reading... Show less