Banditry at Macquarie

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Words || Saliha Rehanaz

Hands trembling and lip quivering, I had no clue where I was. Darkness surrounded me, and the rapid beating of my heart echoed through my ear drums… 

I had just finished my tutorial for BIOL1110 and made my way over to Macquarie Centre from 14SCO. It was a normal day, but something in the air made it all feel abnormal. I crossed my arms and pulled my bag closer to me as I walked inside through the large sliding doors, an eerie chill running down my spine and bright lights shining ahead, warning me of the uncertainty that awaited. 

I felt myself turning around repeatedly to check for someone, something. But every time, it was just herds of people minding their own business and going about their day. I remember telling myself constantly that I was making up things in my mind, until I finally reached the cafe where I bought my coffee every day. 

“Medium cappuccino with one sugar, please.” The words spilled out of my mouth, as if they were the first words I had uttered since birth. 

I pulled out my tattered, old wallet from my bag. As I unzipped the wallet to take out my card to pay, something in the air instantly shifted around me. It felt like a scene from a science-fiction movie or as if I had been dosed with a lethal quantity of euphoria. The world around me transformed, and as I blinked open my eyes, there was nothing but darkness. 

A thousand thoughts ran through my mind. Fear, anxiousness, and uncertainty that I would never see the sunrise, feel the first drop of the monsoon rain, or kiss the love of my life again. My body forced out a scream, but it was only met with silence. 

Pin drop silence. 

Until I heard faint footsteps. 

As if a strobe light had magically appeared from thin air, I could vaguely make out the figure of a human being. I squinted my eyes to help my pupils adjust to the sudden lighting and it all started making sense. 

I recognised the black leather boots, black trousers, and black shirt. A utility belt filled with cards and letters snaked around the figure’s waist. The jester’s hat sitting on top of the figure’s turbid face confirmed my suspicion. 

It was the notorious Bill Bandit. 

A smile spread across my face, and the knot of worry and discomfort disentangled in my stomach. 

“We have stolen and paid for your bill!” The figure chirped excitedly, their face unrecognizable. 

I realised I had become the victim of kindness. The Bill Bandit had already paid for my coffee, just as they have been doing for so many other individuals. And it did not only stop at coffee, there were tales of meals and drinks already paid for from people near and far. 

They had no name, no identity, and no indication of who they were, and where they came from. All they wanted was to do something kind for someone else.

Equipped with happiness, I noticed the Bill Bandit walk away and heard them sing in a melodious voice. It was as if I had been transported to Hamilton, and the Pied Piper was strutting along, as all the children followed. 

“All, Down the road,
Running away with
Endless gold.

“Come, and listen close,
To-o the greatest
Tale ever told.

“Don’t hold them back,
They cannot take it anymore
And there they go.
Into the lonely night.

“Don’t let them win;
They cannot ever settle in
And so they go,
Into the lonely night.

“They go down the road;
Where no one,
No one knows.” 

As the words of the song ended, I blinked my eyes open back to where I started. The familiar barista passed me the cappuccino I had ordered and handed me a crimson card. It was the only sign that remained of the Bill Bandit’s kindness, and it held instructions to continue the idea of paying it forward to anonymously do something kind for someone else. 

I took my coffee, my crimson card, and my heart overwhelmed with how beautiful humanity can be and walked to the sushi store next door. It was time for me to be the Bill Bandit for someone else. 

No one knows who the Bill Bandits are, and neither do they want people to find out who they are. If you have been lucky to have your bill stolen (and paid for) by a Bill Bandit, we hope you keep the momentum going to anonymously do something kind for someone else. If you have picked up an issue, with a Bill Bandit card attached to it, we want you to start your own Bill Bandit journey. So, we hope you got out and do something kind, because happiness is so powerful, it does not have to be yours. 

Surprises are fun, right? 

(Try) to figure out more about the @billbandits on Instagram! 

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