Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tram Talk

Because The Age is focussing quite rightly on the status of the Victorian bushfires, the aftermath, the survival stories, statistics and what recovery plans are being discussed, I thought I'd focus my (occasional) attention on conversations in trams instead of a piece from the paper today.

We're lucky enough to have two routes to choose from: the 57 which wends its merry way through North Melbourne and drops us off anywhere along Racecourse Road, and the 59 Airport West which rumbles up Mount Alexander Road just past the big yellow cheesestick and red toast-rack sculptural installations that are mostly admired by bored and homeless seagulls.

Sometimes, listening to my brother Rob isn't all that comforting. If he's not telling me that it is a given that our car will be broken into, it's this: "I read that the Number 57 Tram Route has been proven to be the most violent in all of Melbourne and leads the way for numbers of assaults, robberies, vandalism and crime." Oh, thanks.

Having that in my now-fearful mind, I climbed aboard one yesterday from Elizabeth Street. Would I be assaulted for wearing no-name sneakers and a Target jacket? Would a drugged-out bogan try to yank off my shoulder bag only to find that inside it held yesterday's MX newspaper and some viola strings? Would he then want to rape and pillage me in revenge?

Luck was on my side, even if my nasal passages weren't, because the carriage stank. It reeked of week-old acrid armpits, ancient yiros wrappers and slippery-thonged sweaty feet. No crime was evident, except for my own. My ticket - used an hour earlier - couldn't be found, so I ignored the validating box and sat down, blushing awkwardly.

Behind me, a young couple sat down, she cursing like a fish wife. "Phark me, that guy was a pharkin' stunt of a tool, wasn't he? As if I dunnt have anuff stuff to worry about without his pharkin attitude...." Boyfriend nodded quietly, clearly used to her tirades and offered her some of his chips. This placated her somewhat as she then changed the subject, "Ya know how I told you that I can't handle fizzy drink, well last night, I'd had too many cruisers and pharkin' forgot and then drank some coke and didn't THAT set me guts right off!"

Right. Impressed, Boyfriend leaned over to give her a particularly greasy chip kiss. Either to shut her up or console her.

On the 59 another day, Sapphire and I stepped aboard to find it pretty full. Summer bargain shoppers, Aussie Open attendees, SMSing teenagers and late-morning workers, so we had to cram next to a rather large old couple.

"It's a bit of tight squeeze, sitting next to a fat bloke like me, isn't it love?" the man said, grinning down at Sapphire.
"Yes," she agreed, before I could shoosh her.
"Nothing like the honesty of kids," he laughed.

We got talking. They were from Essendon (why do locals not use the 'n' to pronounce it? Instead they say 'Esserden'), off to see some tennis as a break from attending dog shows as judges.

"We breed pugs, love."
"Oh? How many do you have?"
"Twelve right now, all ribbon winners. Gotta tell you though----" he leaned over to get closer so that he could share a secret.
"Those dogs have a better life than you do, darl. Baby lambs' wool beds, soft mattresses, air-conditioned kennels. You'd be the one standing outside in the sun, fannin' yourself with an old paper, feelin' envious."

No doubt.


The Lush List said...

That picture is great!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why recover from being a chocoholic? Chocoholics unite! Way less expensive than drugs.

Hungry Hungry Hypocrite said...

There has got to be a book in public transport conversations. I've had some rippers on my train to work (usually full of little bogan students on the lamb from gainful education). One of my favs has to be when four teenage boys, not a day older than 15 each of them, argued over who's impregnated more girls. The winner had claimed three. Just last week a young anglo girl was hitting on her vietnamese class-mate like a steam roller. The conversation follows ...
Girl: "Why are all Chinese people so smart?"
Boy: "I'm Vietnamese".
Girl: "Yeah well, Asians, you make everyone else look dumb."
Boy: "Who?"
Girl: "Aussies!"
Boy: "I'm Australian, my parents were born in Vietnam."
Girl: "Well you know what I mean, you make white people look dumb."
Anon 3rd party: "Nah you make white people look dumb love."
HHH (hysterical internal laughter).

Kath Lockett said...

Lush, note that there's an 'ing' at the end of recover because I know that it's a process that will never be achieved. And nor do I want it to!

HHH - that's priceless. I do feel sorry for any Asian-looking kid who has the misfortune to be utterly crap at maths though.

River said...

Interesting things you hear when out and about. I've often thought I should write about things I hear at the checkout, but I forget them all as soon as I move on to the next customers.

Baino said...

mmm .. chips . . what do they taste like?
I'm venturing on a bus . .yes a bus . . tomorrow to attend a meeting in the city . .not sure whether to eavesdrop or drop out! (I think the same people who patronised your smelly tram attended the Castle Hill Megaplex on Saturday - boy the pong!)

Terence McDanger said...

That picture, sweet Jesus, it'd be animal cruelty if it wasn't so funny.

I take a train to work everyday. What really fucks me off is people who just stand all over you where there clearly isn't room, forcing you to move somewhere else where there isn't room. Pricks.

icancarryallthebagsandthebabiestoo said...


It will be a week before I recover from that pic.

Kath Lockett said...

I must admit that the Sufferin' Suckotash, Batman! is one of my all-time favourite pictures.

And Terence I agree that there's nothing worse than a groin bumping into your shoulder when you're trying to read your paperback but that's really just their subtle way of saying 'You found a seat you selfish bastard.' Or that they fancy you; your choice.

drb said...

Rob told a guy after 3 min he met for the very first time at a dinner party,"Oh, you are born in the year of OX, it is going to be a very bad year for you this year."

That guy wasn't my boss,luckily.

I caught tram 57 for 6 years to Flinders St every weekday, never been mugged or picked on.

The train was a lot scarier, kissed on the cheek by a guy (definitely mentally not right, though good looking) who declared love at first sight; fresh blood splattered on the windows and floor; junkies asking for money; junkies picking a fight with each other, junkies pushing the glass plane off the window onto the floor; dead bodies lying across the tracks.
The last one did make me look for a job closer to home.
My workmate's partnet is a train driver and apparently, the biggest hazzard being a train driver is running into suicidal people about 12 suicide cases a week. But Connext never broadcast it and a lot of time when the train was delayed was because someone succeeded in killing himself. I didn't believe him until I encountered it twice in a week and the platform announcement where we were waiting for the next train,'### train is cancelled, Connex apologises for the delay.'

Marceyness said...

Its actually funny to read about the 57 tram, as on the drive home this evening I was telling Daniel how much I hated it, and how disgusting it was, and well creepy it actually is. Last time I was on there I thought this guy was going to squash me against the wall of the tram, as on the seat he just kept getting closer and closer to me. Not only that, but he smelt like he had never showered as well. DISGUSTING lol!

Kath Lockett said...

Ah but Marceyness, perhaps that's Number 57 Tram Man's idea of romance??

Marceyness said...

More than likely haha I didn't think of that!

Mrs Slocombe said...

Ah the 57: the slowest mankiest tram route of all: always full, it seemed of people on their way to the North Melbourne charity/homeless shelters for lunch. But you could get a pram on it, and it passed all the shops playgroups playgrounds doctors cafes op shops ( stay on it one day to the St Vinnie's shop in Maribyrnong Rd: best ever) creches and schools from Moonee Ponds West to Kensington that we ever needed. So I am kind of nostalgic about it.Except for the stinky guy.He could clear a tram in thirty seconds.
I was more of an offender than a victim, as Frannie chucked up all over me at least once on it, much to everyone's disgust I am sure.
i am enjoying your Flemingtonian ramblings. I lived in 3031/2 for thirteen years and I still feel that over there is home.

Mrs Slocombe said...

p.s. the 57 could also be strange and poetic: