Sunday, 20 November 2011

Trains, skateboards and shoppping trolleys

The peace of the small suburban train station late on Sunday afternoon is shattered by the arrival of six teenage boys, all with skateboards and ipods.  About eight of us are strung along the length of the platform enjoying the spring sunshine after yesterday's grey wetness.  The boys are all talking to each other in the boisterous way of boys but the effect is magnified by the fact that they have to compete with the music playing in the heads of the people they are talking to.  The skateboards hit the pavement, clattering as they lift them and then slam them. I shudder as one boy tries to change direction and loses control. He and the board go in opposite directions.  Is there a train coming?  I look away.  I don't want the image of a teenage boy being slammed by a train seared into my memory.  I don't even want the sounds of danger there.

They are oblivious to the fact that they are inches from death.  Careless with their lives and immune from harm, they go ever closer to the edge of the platform, tracing its imperfect edge with the imprecision of the skateboard.

Their tribe is decked out in too new Converse hi-top sneakers, washed out t-shirts large enough to be a dress and drop crotch skinny pants.  Their hair looks like it has been paid much attention with more hairspray in it than I have in mine.

The stories of prams running away from parents who have turned their backs for a split second and ending up under a train go through my mind.  Things with wheels seem to be a dangerous thing to have on a railway platform.

I ponder this on my journey into Flinders Street.

As usual, it's a battle to get off the train.  Today there is a little old lady with an enormous shopping trolley ready to board the train.  Her fragile wrists have the trolley tilted and ready to lever onto the train regardless of passengers attempting to alight.  I ask her - and everyone else - to stand aside and let us off.  She glares, but she does obey and we surge off the train.  For a moment I think she's going to have me and then the logistics get the better of her.

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