Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Tram Talk 5

Check out the Yummy Mummy trying to walk across the cobbles in her stacked heels. Legs like porky pig.
"Oh Hiiiiii Annie! Yar, I know it's been a while....... What's that? Oh yes, I'm just soooo loooooving the new Megane Cabriolet but someone keyed it the other night right in front of our house. Our house, can you believe it? So it's being repaired. ........I have no idea how to buy a ticket these days and look at you, doing this every day. How do you stand it?"
Hit her, Annie.

"Howdy Love."
Oh god why is it always me, why?
"Er, 'morning." Look the other way. Maybe Jenny or Helen will be catching this tram too.
"Some days it's hard to get outta bed, isn't it?"

He stinks and has got dreadlocks in his beard. His beard. "Yep, it sure is."
"My physio reckons me back's stuffed. If it was here ---" Oh my god surely he's not going to pull up his shirt to show me. Yes, he is "----- she reckons I'd never be able to walk again."
"Gosh, that's awful! In a way, you're lucky." Why did I say that? Now he's going to tell me why he's lucky or why he's not....

HEY! Come ON! Put yer fag out and move yer arse. The tram's here!
Oh thank god. I'm not sure she's going to make it; she's doubled over hawking up - no, don't look. Find a seat instead.

That lady over there seems okay. And she's knitting something in pretty pale blue even though it's 30C today. Maybe I should be like my bearded buddy and start a conversation.

"So, what are you knitting?"
She looks up and is wary for about a second before deciding that my pudgy blonde visage in sensible shoes is harmless. "It's a scarf, actually. One for Patons."
"The wool people?"

Turns out that I've snagged a seat next to a professional knitter. Who knew they existed?
"Who knew you existed?"


Anne has knitted pretty well her entire life and has swapped a stressful career as a radiographer to a more enjoyable but much more modestly-paid one as Number One Knitter.
"You'll see my work in the lift-out knitting booklet that's in this month's issue of Better Homes and Gardens."
"No way. My daughter subscribes to that and was looking through it last night. I'm not kidding."
"They're fairly easy ones. I love it when they give me lacy stuff to make."

Everyone has a story, I told her. Why people would stick buds in their ears to listen to Steve Chuckle Buns Price when there's free entertainment on the Number 59 from Airport West is beyond me.

We heard a giggle from the seat behind us. I turned around. The woman blushed. "Oh, I'm sorry. I couldn't help listening in - you a knitter ---" she smiled at Anne, "----and you a writer."
"So what are you, then?"
"I'm a teacher. So this blogging you were talking about earlier. Is it easy to do?"

We swapped cards and she waved goodbye to Anne and I when she stepped off at the Royal Melbourne.

I farewelled Anne at LaTrobe and wandered into work. Several hours later the 59 was taking me back home, legs jiggling nervously whilst fretting if it would arrive before the commencement of Part-Time Job Number Two. Flicking my watch every two seconds wasn't going to help speed the tram up Elizabeth Street. Nothing to do but sit and listen.

Two private school girls clambered aboard opposite me, sharing an ear bud each. I stared down at their long tartan dresses, pristine white socks and shoes that always remind me of pasties; guaranteed to repel the lustful glances and advance of pretty well everyone.

At the next stop, two young men sat behind me, smelling of alcohol, smokes and BO.

"So I said to her, bitch, you gotta do something about that tatt."
"Whaaaa?" His mate wasn't quite following the conversation, clearly foraging for the last of his chips before flinging the empty packet behind him.
"Her tatt. On her back. Remember when Muzza got a hard on when she flashed it to him?"
"Whaaa?"
"And she drank all your vodka and you cracked the shits?"

Silence for a moment, punctuated only by the Fsssh-shiz of two more UDLs being opened and the tinny tink-tink-boing of the empties thrown where the chip packet lay.
"Oh yeah. Julie. No, Angie. Yeah, Angie."
"Well she and I are going out now, right? And I want her to change it."
"Why?"
"Because it's got HIS name on it, you stupid dick. He's stuck inside right now and she's with me and I don't want his name on my woman every time we're doin' it."

The girls opposite me were trying to pretend that they were still listening to their music, but their wide eyes gave them away.

His drunk mate was suddenly alert. "But won't he kill you when he gets out?"
"Dunno."

"I'd kill you if you did it to me."
"Yeah but you're too dumb to do anything that'd get you inside in the first place."

There was more silence as his mate - and we three ladies - pondered the meaning of that statement.

"Don' fall asleep - we gotta get off here. HERE! She reckons she's got a chick lined up for you, over in that building over there."
They fell through the doors onto Mt Alexander Road.

I leaned forward to pick up the rubbish. "Wow, there's a couple of catches you missed, girls." They laughed and their worries dissolved.

Stop Twenty Six. Mine. Back home to get changed with ten luxurious minutes to spare. Ten minutes to marinate in the conflicting senses of annoyance and guilt for cowardly mocking the tragic and wasted when they were safely out of earshot, and confusion for not knowing what else to do.

22 comments:

The Elephant's Child said...

Love it. And love knowing that someone else eavesdrops/talks to strangers/is talked to by strangers. Some of them very strange. And twice now people with mental health issues who are regularly on the bus with me have found me elsewhere and introduced their family.

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks, TEC. There's a few others I see that are even sadder and more broken. It's a tough choice between avoiding them (there's a guy who likes to abuse people) or trying to pretend that everything's okay.

Andrew said...

All good if you are in the mood for it. The last two guys, sometimes I expect they create stories and even their characters like that to cause alarm and discomfort.

LJP said...

I can't stand people who drink and talk "big" on public transport and make everyone else feel extremely uncomfortable. That said, I am impressed that he used "she and I" in a sentence. Perhaps the education system does work...sort of...

River said...

I love your tram stories. The characters are all so colourful.
"We swapped cards". So you've possibly inspired another one to start a blog?
This also reminds me that I had cards made to give out at BlogCon; I'll send you one, because you won't be there.

Vanessa said...

What an adventure, catching the tram! My homme catches the bus to work and has a few stories to tell at times. Master x is fascinated by the trains he sees on our twice daily school run, I must organise a train trip for him.

Kath Lockett said...

You're spot on about the drinking idiots, Andrew. They were fired up to scare the school girls and were in reality just a couple of unemployed numb nuts' with nothing better to do. Very sad.

LJP, me either. I just hope that his 'woman' spells her new guy's name correctly for her next tattoo!

I hope so, River. Blogging is so easy to start and, as we know, impossible to stop.....

Thanks Vanessa. Sapph always loved taking the bus in Adelaide and still enjoys using the tram in Melbourne. Lots to see, inside and out.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day Kath,

The two guys remind me of conversations I've heard on the Nutty Bus. That, too, is a major source of fun if you want to hear the ridiculous things people say.

Classic.

:0)

Cheers

PM

Baino said...

Hahaha oh clearly I don't spend nearly enough time on public transport although when I do catch the city bus, nobody talks. Seriously, it's a parade of silence n this pretentious stuck up city . . think I need to move to Melbourne. Love it.

Cat J B said...

Ah Kath, I've been on a blog reading hiatus for a couple of months but I'm loving being back reading yours.

Jackie K said...

Re your last sentence, feel at ease. you were not really mocking those guys, but putting the girls and others at ease - good work I say.

Elisabeth said...

Oh Kath, you capture such amazing people and worlds, however devastating they might seem to us. And all you have to do is be open and sit or stand on trams. Thanks.

Pandora Behr said...

Gotta love the randomness of tram conversations. Love the professional knitter. Mind you, with the halfway house and sheltered accommodation near my place, you get some REALLY strange stuff said (and smelled) in the tram. Good work.

nuttynoton said...

As they say in lancashire " there is nowt queer like folk" and using public transport certainly confirms that and makes life interesting!
As usual great writing

Delishhh said...

Great story!! :)

Kath Lockett said...

Plas Man - Nutty Bus in your neck of the woods, Trembling Tram over here :)

Baino, it's always very silent and po-faced during the rush hours here too and having ear buds in is the easiest way to avoid eye contact or conversation.

Aw shucks, CatJB - thanks! I hope everything's been OK during your blog break?

Thanks to you too, Jackie. I was trying to put them at ease but know too that there was NO WAY that I was going to tell them off for littering and risk a tirade of abuse or punch to the mouth.....

There's always a story, Elisabeth :)

Ah yes, Pandora. The smells are as memorable as the conversations, aren't they?

Thank you nutty!

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks Delissh - like your blog, too and it's rather challenging to read it with a rumbling stomach before lunch is served!

drb said...

train scene 1:
Blonde good-looking guy hops on the train and sits opp a girl reading a newspaper. He waits for the girl to look up and make eye contact, smiles and says with a english accent,"Do you believe love at first sight?" "No." "Where you going?" "City." "Meet up wiht your friends?" "... yea..ah" "Can I tag along." "No. "Can I have your number?" "No... but you can give me yours." "I would give mine but I just flown in, no phone yet."
"Oh well, if it is fated, we'll meet again." He leans forward, gives her a peck on the left cheek and alights the train.

drb said...

train scene 2:

Good looking guy sitting on the train. Girl boards the train and sits beside him. She says,"Can I borrow your phone please? I have to call my housemate to check the gas." Guy lends her his phone. She uses it and speaks to her housemate. "Thanks a lot," handing the phone back. "You now have my home number on your phone," smiles and alights the train.

Louise said...

Fabulous post. It's amazing what an insight you can get into other people's lives on the tram (or the train or the bus). How fabulous to meet a professional knitter. I reckon my mother could do that. I don't imagine there's all that much of a need.

Pandora Behr said...

I'm tempted to try jotting down some of the things I hear in the supermarket - though half probably shouldn't be printed.,, Great post

Conor @ Hold the Beef said...

Kath, I wonder if you and I were waiting at a bus stop, who the strange person would come and talk to. I have an apparent magnetic force for them, and it seems you also do... which force is stronger? We must test this.

The two derros talking to each other remind me of when I had to go into Centrelink regularly, and was assigned a particularly dodgy one as my local. The conversations I overheard while impatiently waiting for my number to be called out, oy...