Monday, 9 September 2019

Train trips: Six

This is the sixth post in a series. The first in the series went up on 27 July 2019. This series is similar in its execution to the ‘collage’ series that started in May 2017.

11 August

From Bondi Junction I headed home on the train. I was with a friend and at about 5.45pm on this cold day we went down the escalators to the platforms and scampered to the train about to depart. The first carriage we entered was very full so we went through the doors at the end to the next one, where we sat down, on the lower deck near the stairs, in seats facing one another. At Town Hall a lot of people got on and filled the deck and I got off at Central at 6.05pm, leaving my friend to continue on to a station further down the line.

I walked back along the platform in a northerly direction and as I was moving a train bound for Bondi Junction pulled up. Some people got on and some people got off, including a woman wearing a black cardigan that came down to her knees. I passed her and headed for the escalators that would take me up to the North Concourse.

Once I arrived there I headed to the toilet and used the urinal – I had drunk a lemon, lime and bitters in Woollahra, and a schooner of Kirin draught, a flat white, and an iced coffee in Bondi Junction – then washed my hands and dried them using a machine blower on the wall. A man I had seen outside the toilets talking with a girl aged about 11, who was evidently waiting for him, stood near the entrance to the space and I could hear him talking to a boy who was in a cubicle to my right.

Outside, I left the concourse and headed through the barrier, using my Opal card to get out. I passed the woman with the long black cardigan as I walked toward the escalators that would take me upstairs. At the upper floor, I walked along the side of the Grand Concourse with, to my right, suburban trains sliding silently along the sandstone viaduct next to Elizabeth Street, their lights glowing in the darkness and the seats of the carriage decks visible to me. At 6.08pm I tapped on using the card reader on the platform and headed to the outbound platform. There were still 10 minutes until the tram would arrive.

Next to me on the platform a young man wearing neat, dark clothes who had a backpack on his back was talking to himself loudly enough for anybody to hear. He was not talking on a phone; I checked both sides of his head and there was no earpiece. He was just involved in a conversation in his own head and was not hurting anybody. When there were two minutes before departure I saw the tram gliding up the hill with its lights on. I had imagined it to be coming a few minutes earlier but as there had only been one light visible at that time I guessed after a moment or two that what I was seeing was a cyclist.

I got on the tram when it drew up at the stop, and sat down. Over the PA system the driver notified passengers that the tram would depart in one minute. A small girl aged about four years was on the tram with her father and she sat down in one of the hinged seats opposite me. She had straight, black hair and had on a red, long-sleeved top with, on its front, a cartoon image of Mickey Mouse wearing a purple hat and, on his feet, what appeared to be roller skates. In her hand she carried a paper bag with a string handle. The bag had an image on it of what looked like a princess in a long, pink dress.

A man wearing shorts who stood immediately to my left kept knocking my shoulder with his backpack so at Exhibition Centre when the tram stopped I stood up and brought this circumstance to his attention. He was English and looked to be aged in his early 60s and was on the tram with a woman I took to be his wife. He apologised and the woman said to me, looking me directly in the face, “It’s better to say something. You’re right.” Perfectly reasonable.

When the tram was stopped the driver spoke over the PA system: “Please keep moving inside the vehicle. Do not block the doors, so other people can get on and off safely.” There had been no announcement prior to our arrival at the stop and I noticed the LED signs in the carriages were malfunctioning. Regardless of which stop we were approaching the signs said only, “Destination: Central” and “Next stop: Central.”

At Convention the person sitting in the seat to my right, an Asian man aged in his 50s who had been using his mobile phone during the journey west, turned and looked out the window of the crowded carriage, evidently confused. I said to him, “This is Convention.” He glanced at my face and said in reply, “Convention, thanks.” At 6.36pm he got off at the casino with me and a number of other people. I tapped off with my Opal card and left the building through the east exit. By 6.48pm I was home.

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