Saturday, 17 November 2012

Train driver of the year

As the train approached North Melbourne station, the public address system crackled to life.  My heart sank.  This would surely mean a delay.

A friendly, blokey voice cheerfully greeted us: "Good morning passengers!  Isn't it a glorious day out there?  A bit of a shame if you have to go inside to work, but I'll get you there."

We looked up, eyes met and there were smiles and a few chuckles. Others noticed the ripple and removed their ear phones.  There was no bad news about delays.

He continued, as though in conversation with all of us.

"Hey, you know how they are talking about all the cuts to the defence force budgets?  Well I read that in response, the navy has started to subsidise their own operations.  You wouldn't believe it, but they're growing oranges!  I know!  I couldn't believe it either.  Seems a bit strange, but I did read it on the sticker.  It was stuck to the orange I was eating.  Said it was naval. So there you go, you learn something every day.  It's an amazing world."

Laughter rippled around the carriage.  We settled back to our books and phones and music.

The speaker crackled to life again.

"I've heard reports about trouble with points around North Melbourne station this morning.  Some of you might have heard about them too.  So before I left Williamstown I rang up to check how things were going.  They said that it's been fixed, but here we are sneaking in to North Melbourne because I'm getting signals to slow down.  So we'll see how we go.  Hopefully there won't be too much of a delay.  And to that fella in the first carriage, I haven't forgotten about you."

I was travelling in the front carriage and there was a man in a wheelchair.  He was nodding and smiling in response. He was clearly "that fella" who would need assistance to disembark.

We pulled into North Melbourne station about a minute later.  The man in the wheelchair was greeted by the train driver.  He looked exactly as I imagined him - greying hair, big smile, humorous outlook and what seemed to be love of his job and love of other people.

I enjoyed the interaction immensely.  I hope to be taken to town or taken home by this man again.

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