Days passed and then the weeks…I tried all possible openings. The last compartment, the middle, the first…..but seats continued to elude me. A year later my neighborhood is growing and so are the hopefuls. These days I’m happy just to find a good standing spot.
There are advantages to standing…I’ve by now almost memorized the Melbourne map, if I’m lucky I can enjoy the view outside, or just observe whoever are my nearest neighbours, share their music and FB surfing and maybe even have adventures.
It was one of those days- the train was late and when it finally arrived, packed. I almost don’t get in but someone pushed me and I found myself like ‘Lilliput in the land of giants’, left among the shoes….pointed shoes, black shoes, red…hundreds of them. The Giants had the advantage so I was left to innovate and cement my stand.
A few minutes into mastering the art of balancing ballet stretches, aching stretched right arm and coffee in my left, senses alert for expected track changes, I felt something move. The obvious move was the train and then my pocket. I did a dracula head turn ( the rest of my body parts were immobile) to find a startled face holding what suspiciously looked like my phone, unless guys were into carrying pink.
I looked at him and then the phone, I couldn’t figure out who was more embarrassed. I turned a shade of red, I released my stretched arm and removed the offender from his hand. There was no resistance, just silent looks from both sides. I knew he was a thief and he knew he was a thief, we both knew what had happened…A kind of mutual understanding.
After the exchange I turned back, put the offending victim in my handbag, heart beating …I almost forgot that I wasn’t the guilty one. Mission unaccomplished, the gang (I realized then that there were three of them but strategically placed) closed on me and smoothly displaced me to perhaps find another victim.
I found myself face to face with a lady and two supposedly gentlemen who refused to make eye contact even when the Aussie lady loudly offered me her seat two times.
The two men, desi as we call ourselves, continued to stare at their shoes and mobiles. I was being subtly bullied and it took an Aussie to stand up for me. My ingrained moral science lessons made me refuse her offer (she was an elder!) but the intervention got the gang off my case.Flushed and relieved, I ran to another compartment at the next stop.
My friends couldn’t believe that I didn’t raise my voice and get the thief caught. In my defense, those three were junkies and loud and filthy and lived in my neighborhood. I don’t exactly blend in the environment with my almost chinky eyes and yellow skin and to be fair on myself, my movements are also almost repetitive.
I therefore chose to retrieve my stolen property and remain quiet. I could be wrong in doing so but I’m not overly excited about the thoughts being followed and sought after! I’ve watched more than enough ‘Midsomer Murders’ to my liking.
As the 0750 approaches every morning, I diligently stand behind the yellow line as instructed and continue to be hopeful. The rare times I get a seat, I inevitably find someone who qualifies for my seat and I end up standing.
One day I had a sore wrist so I boarded with a very visible white bandaged wrist, confident that would guarantee me a sitting spot. But as usual I barely made it to the map next to the door…I made the necessary pitiful looks but my only Oscar audience were my fellow victims and the door.
The one time I was successful was the day when I was unwell…There was an empty seat but a guy beat me to it. Desperate I broke the code of silence and said ‘Please, can I sit?’ With all eyes on him, he didn’t stand a chance.
I continue to look for clues and formulas to find the perfect spot that helps me bag the coveted seat every morning but until then I am content to memorize the map.
(My mobile safely in my hand or my bag). And on a positive note, while my friends sit to work, I have stories to tell.