Thursday, 31 January 2013

Cue circus music, fluff your hair - it's time to commute in the rain!

There are some things in the world that are meant to be fluffy: kittens, toys, towels, dandelions, bunnies, Santa's beard.  You will notice that my hair is not on this list; especially when I've spent some money to have a sleek, smooth blowdry.

Yet here I sit, fluffy haired, exhausted from the epic nature of my journey from work to home - if "epic" can appropriately be applied to traversing a mere 10 kilometres.

All week, people have been complimenting me on my smooth locks.  Curls and ringlets had been framing my face for the last month.  The first appointment I made upon my return to the big smoke was with my hairdresser.  Urgent magic was required to cover my - ahem - grey.  I decided that straight hair would be a nice change.  With the weather in Melbourne being bone dry and all the rain falling in the north I thought my investment would last a week.

Today as I was sitting at my desk deeply engaged in a telephone conversation, I looked up.  I suddenly panicked, thinking I had been swallowed into some kind of fluorescently lit hell where time has no meaning and it was actually midnight.  It wasn't.  It was 5:10pm.  It just looked like midnight.  Ah, the gods were playing with us for their pleasure, causing a downpour and throwing in some wind right on going home time.

My journey home involves a short walk to the unsheltered tram stop through many lanes of cars; a ride on a tram; navigation of one of the busiest tram stops in Melbourne to walk across to Flinders Street Station; a train ride and then a seven minute walk home from the local train station.  It sounds like a lot when written like that, but usually it's fine.

Today it wasn't fine.  Today my hair went fluffy.

In my handbag I always have a compact umbrella.  My rationale is that I'll always be prepared in the event of unexpected rain.  Melbourne's reputation for changeable weather has been well earned, so this is a good thing to do.  Except for one thing - compact umbrellas are useless when it does actually rain.  This level of incompetence is elevated to pointlessness when the rain is accompanied by wind.

Now my hair is fluffy.

If that wasn't enough to deal with, I arrived at Flinders Street station with soaking trousers and feet.  Luckily, I also travel with a pair of thongs in my handbag so my beautiful, expensive shoes are not ruined in heavy rain.  According to the information provided on the screens in the station, I only had to wait about 8 minutes for a train home.  I entered the station at about 6:10pm but only boarded the 6:32pm train at 6:38pm.  I had been waiting on platform twelve for the train that never came.

Then we had the opportunity to participate in one of the practical jokes that Metro Trains likes to organise occasionally. I've been in this one before: the screens tell you to go to platform ten.  After a couple of minutes, an announcement tells you that the train will now be leaving from platform 12.  The commuters heave a sigh and scramble over to the other platform.  Upon arrival there, an announcement says that the next train leaving from that new platform is to a completely different destination from the one you were expecting.  All staff have disappeared from this platform.  The screen has gone blank and there are no announcements being made.  As you confer with other commuters, you hear the faint sound of an announcement being made back on platform ten informing any passengers who are left on platform ten that the train there is in fact the train that everyone who is now on platform twelve is expecting over there!

To make it even more fun, you organise this prank to occur during a downpour so everyone is wet, cold and cranky and the platforms are super slippery.  If you only make announcements at the last minute this adds excitement as people ignore the warnings not to run and run to catch a train.

As I finally walked home from the station I was grateful for my thongs but also struggling to keep them on my feet.  There was so much water I thought they might float away from under my feet.  This is what I experienced in Darwin during a tropical downpour.  At least the rain there was warm.  The rain in Melbourne is not warm, even in the middle of summer.

At least my house isn't flooded and I have a warm shower, clean dry clothes and a warm bed for the night. hair is fluffy.

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