The current bout of dissatisfaction started about two weeks ago. I know I can be a little offensive at times but I'm mostly pretty benign, at least while on public transport. On the particular day in question I managed to upset a complete stranger just by being me. I'm not sure what about me bothered him, because I was reading the paper at the time of the incident. Maybe I was moving my lips, I don't know. Anyway, the individual, a young man in his early twenties who was sitting on the ground, got quickly to his feet and punched me very hard in the chest. Being unsure what else to do, I fell backwards and landed at the edge of the train platform.
I wondered out loud what may have caused such an outburst and was informed by my assailant that he wasn't feeling well. He was clearly unbalanced, something I could easily sympathise with as I tettered at the edge of the platform. He stormed off leaving me to get up and try to seek answers from the other commuters around. No answers were forthcoming and most of them were looking at me wondering what I had done to deserve such a response. I'm pretty sure I don't move my lips when I read, but if I had then maybe it was my fault.
Station security seem to have some process issues. The station has a number of attendants but they are not security and the little walkie-talkies they carry apparently cannot be used to communicate with security personnel. However, they were very helpful in explaining their inability to help and in directing me to a window where I could go and speak to someone who was authorised to contact security. I went to said window and was confronted by disbelieving staff. That is not to say they didn't believe me, its just they were clearly expecting to be asked why such-and-such train was late or something similar. After repeating my story and informing them that the perpetrator was still on the platform, they agreed that the best thing would be for someone to contact security. I suggested that someone should probably be one of them and after a brief discussion amongst themselves, they agreed. Finally a couple of burly gentlemen with badges and big coats arrived on the scene. Unfortunately, not the platform where the assailant waited patiently for his getaway train.
And so it was that a mere ten minutes had passed as myself and the security guards made our way back to the platform. However, having just committed unlawful assault, the young criminal made a daring leap through the open doors of a stationary train, which slowly pulled away before we could recite the complete works of Shakespeare. It was a close thing, but he made it out of Dodge.
The head security guy patiently explained to me why they couldn't do more and what I should do, while his eyes said, "Its friggin' cold out here. Do you know that?"
So I reported it to the police the next day, as instructed and they said they would look into it but they couldn't promise much because of lack of interest. If only I'd been seriously hurt or famous.
Anyway, the week got marginally better after that as I began to appreciate more those times you catch a train without being thumped. However, almost every train I caught that week was over half an hour late. One night, the train headed off, then had to come back to Southern Cross Station, where we all waited for 90 mins before being told that a bus was now available. 400 hundred people queued up as the mini bus pulled in. Ok, it wasn't a mini bus but let's face it, unless it has wings, no bus is big enough for four hundred people. So we waited. And waited. And then they told us that they would run the train anyway, though it would have to go the long way via the freight lines. An extra twenty minutes maybe. That should have been an extra hour. We finally got home around 9:45pm. I left work at 4:30pm.
I also had to spend two trips standing as the train was so packed we couldn't even find floor space. This is uncommon on the country trains, but typical on the city trains. In fact it can sometimes be amusing on the city trains. During the public-transport-week-from-hell, I found myself squashed into a Met train and as it was school holidays, many young people were also crowded into the carriage, off to the big city to flock together. Most people in such circumstances are reserved and quiet, speaking softly if at all. But not these kids. One girl in particular felt that the friends immediately around her were leaving the other kids at the other side of the highly compressed carriage, out of the conversation, so she began to relay for both sides. This was annoying but also amusing. At one point, a particular cafe was mentioned and the vocally unchallenged girl gave the whole carriage her opinion of the shop which ended with the following gem:
"The coffee was like, horrid. It was like, you know, liquid."
Anyway, for the most part I like public transport as it means I don't have to pay attention as I travel from home to work and back. Its cheaper than driving and I don't get as many parking tickets. And besides, if I'm going to be hit, I'd rather my attacker not be in a car at the time.Ciao!
Thought for the Day: Public Transport. Its not just a way to get to work. Its an adventure.