Monday, December 21, 2009

Doggy December - Day 22 - Tram Talk

Taking a tram ride into the city during a weekday after the rush hour has passed is always a brilliant opportunity to spot human beings in action.

Today looked be a rich find as I sat next to an elderly woman dressed in black (Greek or Italian widow?) muttering and crossing herself. Then again, we were passing the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Catholic school and chances were high that she'd visited both.

Opposite us sat a sixty-something lady with a rather groovy hairstyle. Most of her white-grey natural hair colour was on show but she'd added some vibrant navy blue streaks in it. Then I noticed her nails - huge long rectangular fakies with navy blue and white stripes carefully lacquered on.

You know me by now: of course I had to say something; to break the unwritten law of public transport and instigate a conversation with a stranger. "So," I smiled in hopefully an approachable, non-threatening and sane manner, "A bit of a Geelong fan are you?"

She beamed, clearly glad I picked up the reference and treated me to a view of a set of choppers brighter than anything featured on the Bedazzled adverts. "Yep, it's for Geelong winning again," she said. "I did 'em in Hawthorn colours last year, but every one who saw 'em thought I just had dirty and puss-filled fingers."

I nodded, understanding that brown and yellow might not be interpreted as a healthy choice. She leaned forward to me: "Aw will you check out those two?"

I followed the direction of her stripy talon. Two women had just got on with a honey blonde and black labrador guide dogs-in-training. Restraining myself from patting them - or taking a photo - 'We are in training to become Working Dogs. Please don't pat us' - I admired them from afar. Or three metres in tram carriage terms.

Behind me, two teenage girls were talking: "Couldn't I just slap her once for reprogramming the bloody till so that athlete's foot cream comes up as lip gel?"
"Nope. Not until you graduate, get a real job and it's your last day."

The Sign Of The Cross lady limped off at Victoria Street, and a geeky guy (with the 'don't even think about talking to me' iPod ear buds on) sits in her still-warm space, busy checking and rechecking the manga DVD he'd just bought. He reads the text on the back of the cover for the third time and carefully - reverently - slides it back into the black Minotaur bag that is resting on his lap.

Then I hear a really broad accent: even with a 'Darl' thrown in for extra Aussie oomph. "One more stop to go, Darl," and I have to turn around and see who Darl is:

Bev, the proud owner of Darl the Poodle Whatsit Cross, is gearing up to do her weekly fruit-and-veg shop at Queen Vic market. "Oh Darl goes everywhere with me, yes she does." Bev nods to herself, one eye focussed on Darl and the other swivelled about forty degrees east. "All the stall holders know her and once we nearly got on the telly." She nods again. "You know the show, where Sammy Newman walks around with a camera man and talks to you? We were filmed but didn't make it on."

I make commiserating noises, pat Darl a few times and decide against explaining why narrowly escaping being featured on anything involving Sam Newman is a good thing.

Bev's attention (and both eyes) are diverted from me and she wheels Darl over towards a baby girl, in a pink outfit, sitting in a pink pram stuffed with pink toys with a pink, excesma-ravaged face. "Hey sweetie, will your Mummy let you pat my doggie?"

At the next stop, a long-haired, hippy-looking student clambers on with thin gangly limbs and protruding Adam's apple through his patchy beard and neck fuzz. This would be reasonably unremarkable except that he's taking up two seats to accommodate his home-made fold up scooter and pet whippet. The man is so pale that he must be a vegan who inadvertently swivels his head towards the sunny window, photosynthesising. The dog has more energy than he does.

As I get off, run some errands, do some shopping (curse those crazy temporary cheap-and-dirty bookshop) and sniff out some chocolates, I pop into one of my favourite spots for a coffee and see the labradors again, this time with their official training coats off. Yessss, they're off duty.

I ask permission for a photo (from the ladies) and a pat (from the dogs).

I like living in Melbourne and somehow will find an excuse to bring Milly on the tram with me.


Marceyness said...

That was a great read!

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks Marcey!

Rowe said...

Oh Kath, where did you get that funny shot of the dog with his mouth blown open and teeth bared in the wind. Love it - so quintessentially dog. I do like the camaraderie that public transport can facilitate. On most occasions when I catch a train or bus there is usually at least one person glad for a little chat, a friendly smile, a wink or a polite nod will do.

River said...

Eczema ravavged face? Poor kid is probably allergic to pink.

There's been a few guide dogs in training here too, once they came into Coles. I always want to pat them but they're working and so am I.

Lorna Lilo said...

I particularly loved the "swivelling eye". I admire anyone who can be cheery about public transport. People who are cheery ON public transport are usually insane. I'm an IPod wearing, don't speak to me kind of commuter who avoids conversation. I would put a paper bag on my head if I thought it would help me avoid eye contact.

Baino said...

I am a SHOCKER for saying Darl. I blame my in laws. Their youngest Grandson thought his Grandad's name was "Darl" because that's what his wife called him.

I ache resisting the guide dog walkers but know they're in training and not to touch. They go through Castle Towers food hall . Can you imagine the temptation for a labrador! Bless their blue coats.

Kath you're posting so fast, i cant keep up but I do read them all. Have yourselves a merry little Christmas in your new home. I love Melbourne too, really love it. . .I'll be baaaaack!

Kath Lockett said...

Rowe, I can't remember - I found it a few months ago, had a good laugh and saved it. I'm a sucker for a phunny foto.

River you could be right. The father with the baby just stank of old beer and unwashed clothes and the Mum wasn't much better. I kind of got the impression that having the latest baby gear was more important than hygiene but excesma is caused by a range of things...

Lorna if I see a frighteningly fashionable and witty woman with an iPod *and* a paper bag on her head on tram 57 or 59, I'll assume it's you and strike up a conversation!

Thanks Baino. You're a 'darl' yourself!

Helen said...

I'm pretty sure you can take Milly on the tram as long as she's leashed and you have dog poo bags? That's certainly the case on the trains. I haven't taken Maggie on the train yet and often wonder what she'd think of it. She'd probably panic!

w/v - grazin