Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Something in the air?

Christmas could be an opportunity for people to be nice to each other.  For strangers to smile at others in the street.  For people to stand aside and let someone pass.  For us to look up and see each other!  It would be a Christmas miracle.

I've had the dubious pleasure over the last couple of weeks of needing to keep conventional office hours for a particular project on which I'm working.  This has involved hitting the train and Flinders Street Station right in the middle of the morning peak.  Once I've survived that first odyssey, I then make my way to what might be the busiest tram stop in Melbourne.  On a platform that barely holds the crush, I wait for the number 1 tram to South Melbourne Beach as I am elbowed and jostled by the surge.  There's only one thing worse than this surge - the angry surge when the tram is too packed and people are left behind.  It's not a long wait between trams at that time of the morning, but why wait two extra minutes where you will endure the elbows and glares of your fellow travellers, when you could be pressed to a stranger's arm pit with one side of your face and mashed against the door with the other?

There is always a queue to exit Flinders Street Station at the top end, the end nearest the Yarra River.  That side still has old metcard gates that are slow to work with the myki card and it can take a long time to get through.  I figure everyone's in the same boat, so you just need to be patient and wait your turn.  This view is not shared by everyone in Melbourne.  I know! Shocking to discover!

I joined a queue and while I was waiting one of the staff came and switched the gate next to me so that we could use it to exit.  (Before he did this it was set so that only people wanting to come in could use it.)  As it happened, I was able to step up and be the first person in that line.  (No, I did not shoulder charge anyone, I just stepped across and that's how it worked out.)  I touched my myki to the reader and nothing at all happened.  I held it still, bearing in mind the detailed operating instructions every myki user must know - I didn't swipe, wave, jiggle, show, tap or fling.  I touched and held still.  Nothing.

Behind me I heard a woman's voice.  Apparently she'd been screaming at me for the last three seconds and I only noticed when she poked me in the back.  "GO THROUGH! Can't you just GO THROUGH?  LADY?  GO THROUGH!!!!!"

I realised she was speaking to me.  I turned and was about to explain that I needed to touch off to ensure I was charged correctly, but it was a bit hard with a fire breathing dragon behind me.  I said nothing and stood my ground and touched my myki to the reader again.  Mercifully, it worked and as I walked through, the dragon surged past still screaming at me to GO THROUGH! LADY!

I just shook my head.  For goodness' sake.

"Some people!" I looked up.  A young man had spoken.  He looked at me sympathetically.  I smiled.

"You heard that woman?" I asked.

"Yes!  Can't believe that would happen in Melbourne."

"Maybe she's not from Melbourne.  Maybe there's something in the air."

"Maybe there's something wrong with her."

"Well, there might be.  So that's her problem."


As I wished him an excellent day, we came face to face with dragon woman who had by now secured a wide perimeter around herself and was glaring at everyone.  I felt the urge to say something - or elbow her out of the way - but decided to stay out of her way.

The last I saw of her she was burrowing her way onto an over crowded tram.  Glaring at all in her path.  I wondered how long it would take before she pushed someone too far.

I arrived home and discovered my crazy neighbour arguing with the very nice man who had spent the last two days replacing the old analogue television antennae with new digital ones.  It had been a big job and Antennae Man was friendly and even-tempered.  When Gottfried accused him of microwaving us, Antennae Man just continued repeating the words "television" and "reception".  He slipped once and said "satellite" which led to a re-opening of the microwave question.  Antenna Man regrouped quickly and went back to his mantra - "television", "reception". This time I noticed he was shaking his head.

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