I was waiting at the tram stop in front of the State Library on Swanston Street. My hairdresser had called to tell me he could fit me in half an hour earlier if I could get there. I could. I had just been planning how to fill in half an hour when he called. So there I am, waiting for the advertised three minutes before the number 8 tram was due to arrive.
"Excuse me!" I heard a man's voice say. I looked around, more out of curiosity than any specific reason for thinking his plea was directed to me.
"Excuse me! You, lady, come over here!" He seemed to be addressing me. I pointed at myself and cocked an eyebrow.
I was taken aback. I was just standing waiting for a tram. I felt like I was being summoned to the headmaster's office. What could I have done? I didn't want to be commanded by a man in uniform to do anything - those desires were quenched when I went through a misguided "I want to join the airforce and fly fighter jets" phase, fed by seeing the film "Top Gun" - even if the said uniform consisted of a fetching orange high-vis vest with the words "customer service" plastered across the back.
"What do you want?" I asked.
"Just come over here." He pointed to something behind the tram stop on the lawn in front of the library.
I took a tentative step. The high-vis vest didn't give him the amount of power he was exercising.
"Look at those stupid people!" he pointed and exclaimed.
I saw two punks with spectacular hair. One, the woman, had fire engine red in a mohawk with spikes that were at least 30 centimetres long. The other was a man and he had the same spikes, but in jet black. He was standing behind her and doing something with her hair.
"Who?" I asked.
"The ones with the stupid hair! How ridiculous. People are stupid you know!"
I shrugged nervously. I didn't really think they were stupid.
"Each to their own," I chirruped.
The man shook his head and looked at me before saying, "People in this world are so stupid. Don't you think?"
"Not really. That's my tram." It really was the number 8, although I would have happily boarded the next tram to anywhere just to avoid a continuation of the proclamation.
I took my seat and looked again at the two punks, just ordinary people in each other's company, albeit with spectacular hair. I wondered what the tram man had seen in me that caused him to think I would be sympathetic to his conservatism. I rethought my entire outfit and wondered whether I should ask my hairdresser to do something wild with my hair. Then I wondered what the man was so insecure about that he needed to point others out to complete strangers. It wasn't as though the two punks were imposing their hairstyles or choices on the tram man. Although if I saw him in his high-vis customer service vest, I wonder whether I'd think he was stupid.
I was jolted out of my thoughts by a woman screaming at her children to sit down. I could hear her over the music on my ipod. I looked around and saw three small boys cowering in silence. She continued with a tirade of contemplation about why they had to all be so stupid.
She should be careful, they could all grow up to be punks.
Here's how I came out of the hairdresser. Brighter red, but no spikes!
© divacultura 2013