Travel, or how I broaden my mind

There are many reasons why it would be easy for me to hate my journey to and fro work.

(‘Late…again’, from alistair_35’s Flickr photos and reproduced under a Creative Commons Licence)

For starters, as the crow flies I’m less than 30 minutes away from Swinburne, but it takes me almost an hour to get here. Arguably that’s my fault for not having a car or a licence to drive it (whichever order is appropriate), but cars are pollution factories and I have a conscience.

And why would anyone drive when the train stops right in the middle of the campus?

For good reason, as I’ve discovered. Whenever I hear people in other states whinge about their public transport systems, I’m tempted to lose my cool. Since Connex took over the Melbourne train system early this decade, we’ve developed new terms to describe inefficiency. My train was 25 minutes late last night and I missed the first third of the performance I was trying to attend. Of course, Connex apologised for any inconvenience caused, as they did when they cancelled my train again this morning and I stood on the platform for 22 minutes in the cold. Such a sincere, heartfelt recorded message always makes me feel better about being late for appointments.

Last week Connex gave out free sample boxes of cereal, as if to say: ‘sorry for making you late for work again — have breakfast on us’. Which is fine, but I’d rather they spent the money on improving the system (completely aside from the fact that I don’t like Special K). Food and trains don’t mix; I was entirely unreceptive this morning to a woman who thought I should enjoy having her children crawl all over me and rub their potato chip-coated fingers into my work clothes.

To make matters worse, I’m housesitting at the moment in an unfamiliar geographic location with a lovely dog, an affectionate cat and a pool. Melburnian readers of this blog will have noticed that we’ve rediscovered a forgotten concept called ‘rain’ this week. This morning, I woke up to find that the pool water was level with the surrounding tiles and there’s more rain forecast. By the time I get home, I think the dog will be teaching the cat to swim and the house will have floated away.

Such is life. Luckily, there’s one significant benefit to a long and painful train journey — it helps me catch up on my reading.

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2 Responses to Travel, or how I broaden my mind

  1. Kim says:

    I was discussing this very thing this morning on the train with a fellow commuter. We try to remain very Zen about the whole public transport thing. You are more likely to be held up than arrive on time.

    The Zen thing only works some of the time. But zoning out to my ipod and not to scheduling early meetings also helps. The prospect of driving and parking in Prahran is horrendous so it is really the only option for me. I loved working one stop away and walking distance but I don’t think I will be moving over to the East-side anytime soon.

    I hope the animals are not drowning but waving when you get home!

  2. tony says:

    It is totally not your fault at all for having neither car nor licence, but public transport travel can be unbelievably frustrating. It’s not only the delays, I think if it was an otherwise pleasant experience you could as Kim says just zone out and go with it. But you are generally stuck next to at least one loud, annoying, rude or generally obnoxious person/child. I’m afraid I am turning into Victor Meldrew. Last Friday on the Pigpen train I said quite loudly to Wayne “What’s that terrible smell?” only realising after I’d said it that the man sitting next to me was eating fried dim sims. Another time (Pigpen line again) a clearly deranged gentlemen spent the entire trip speaking into an imaginary telephone, making lots of calls to imaginary people, while organising a “smackdown”. I don’t know what that is, but it also involved ordering imaginary pizza to be delivered there.

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