Station Stories

everyday stories


No really.  On behalf of grown up children everywhere who worry about their elderly parents, I have to call this one out.

I was working at the junction the other day. Coming out of the office, I saw a woman in her 70’s in a bike helmet sitting on the concourse floor at the top of the escalators.  She’d fallen.  I helped her 70 + husband lift her up, collect her bicycle and sit her down in the waiting room.  She seemed mercifully unhurt.  But I had to write a report so I asked them what had happened.

Apparently having discovered that there were no trains on their line, they planned to cycle to the station they wanted. So far so good.  But deciding to see if they could take a short cut through the station, they set out to take their bicycles down the escalators to platform 1.

“I forgot to put on my brakes and I lost control of it,” she said.

I was furious.  Visions of broken hips and necks danced in my head. Thank God she herself hadn’t made it onto the escalator when she lost control!  Thank God there was no one else on the escalator at the time!  Didn’t they realize how dangerous it was to take a bike on an escalator? (not the mention against the rules)

I was a paragon of self-control and did not use the word “stupid” as in “Are you two completely stupid?” once. I probably I didn’t need to.  When I suggested politely that next time they use the lifts, they got very defensive.

People disappear

About 3 years ago a nice lady regular confided in me that she had stage 2 esophageal cancer. Then I didn’t see her again. Over the years I’ve wondered how she’d fared. I knew she worked at the hospital nearby but I didn’t know her name. So naturally when I asked others among the hospital workers passengers if they knew of her, they were unable to identify her from among the thousands of other workers at the hospital. I came to the melancholy conclusion I would never know how she went or even see her again. Then Hooray! Hooray! she turned up again. She had survived the cancer and was now well enough to go back to work. I’m so glad!! It’s so nice to know what happened to someone and even nicer when the ending is good. And we swapped names. It may not help if she disappears again, but you never know.

Bird Wrangling

The limping magpie matriarch

I have added bird wrangler to my list of skills. Recently I spotted one of the local magpies – the limping matriarch I have written about before – climbing into one of the carriages of a halted train with her eye on a squashed biscuit inside. I rushed down the platform yelling at her. I should instead have rushed towards the driver making the stop signal.
The doors closed on us both inside the carriage and a panicked magpie was between me and the emergency button. She yarped and pecked the window and flew up and down the carriage causing people to duck and cover their faces. A generally terrifying time was had by all for the next 2 minutes. The largeness of a magpie and the fierce pointiness of its beak are particularly noticeable in an enclosed space.
When the train pulled up at the next station, everyone pulled open their closest door and after a bit of prompting, the magpie matriarch got out and flew off.
I went back to Zoo station on the next down train after a 15 minute wait and wondered if she’d find her way back.
Great relief when I saw her an hour and a half later, seemly uninjured, limping around the platform looking for biscuit crumbs. Hopefully she will not climb into a train again.

Designer by Train

Complete with Bucket hat

A very odd couple were sitting in the waiting room although I shouldn’t really say that because the man kind enough to explain my blue tooth to me. Also should I perhaps be more humble towards those so pointedly more materially sucessful than me? 
But I shall call it as I see it.  They were both wearing North Face by Gucci outfits complete with the bucket hats pictured above and because they had normal shaped bodies they looked like a pair of shiny gold and tan tents. Between them, they were wearing $14,000 of blingy clobber. I wonder what material that Gucci stuff is made of. It looked rather ungiving.
I’m always startled when I see designer gear at the station. But after all, rich people like animals too and it’s sensible, easy and safe to come to the zoo by train.

Passenger behaving erratically

It’s 9 degrees which is cold for Melbourne. The wind is freezing. The trains are running late. When I ask the control room why, they tell me they are waiting for the police to come and collect an erratically behaving passenger at the end station. The passenger has taken off his clothes and is rolling round on the platform. Poor man. Presumably its drugs. Too many of the wrong ones or too few of the right ones.

A day in the life of customer service

12 degrees, a sharp wind and torrential rain. At the station 20 well wrapped up elderly people are off for an excursion to the city. They seem to have picked up an escort of four police officers and 3 ticket inspectors. It’s probably a coincidence that they are all traveling together. Melbourne hardly has the level of crime that requires the elderly to be so guarded. Although… could they be guarding us from the delinquency of the old folks??? Al a the Goodies and Monty Python.

As the rain comes down in sheets a group of damp Singaporeans draggle into the station, just missing a train. I feel so sorry for these tropical folk. Its 12 degrees. They’ve come down to Melbourne to see snow, but the snowfields aren’t open yet. The Kangaroos and Koalas in the zoo are all hiding from the cold.
Then a dear little toddler arrives in the waiting room and everyone enjoys cooing over him and trying to warm up his little hands. He takes the attention with bemused calm. Grampa is relieved to have a break. He’s very damp and cold whereas his grandson is wearing a very impressive snow suit.

Chatting to one of my regulars we are joined by a nice smiling but slightly odd man. Somehow we get chatting about the meaning of the word sartorial. Which is how we find out this pleasant man has had a brain injury and has trouble remembering the meanings of words. He tells us all about it, how he was dead for several minutes and how they had to rebuild his skull. Apparently he was a very high functioning aeronautical engineer before it all. Now he gets lost trying to come to the Zoo by train, he tells us happily. “Once they saw my brain scans they said I’d never work again. Look” and he show me the brain scan on his mobile phone. “Look at all that black” he says.
The fact that he’s so happy makes the experience of looking at a stranger’s brain scans much less disturbing than it might otherwise be.

Tram Boy

Tram Boy drove a much more modern tram but I like these old guys best.

Do you remember Tram boy?
Tram boy was a 15 year old boy who stole two trams one weekend in 2005 and drove them a total of 25 kms picking up passengers on the way. Apparently he’s a kind of Ned Kelly hero for some people including a young intellectually disabled man who sometime sits with his carer watching the trams.
“Have you heard of me,” he cries. “I’m Tram boy. I stole that Tram and drove it all around. One day I’m going to steal one of your trains too. You tell them. I’m going to steal one of your trains.
You’ll see.”
I guess we will.

The Odd Couple

The woman on Platfrom 2 had clearly never worn a bra and her breasts hung freely, almost down to her navel. She was clearly someone unfettered by femine custom/ limitation. She had short hair, shorts and a t’shirt, all very pale. Calmly she scratched her crotch. What made her stand out even more was her travelling companion. I wasn’t sure if she was friend, family member, social worker, client or girlfriend? What ever their relationship, the companion was wearing full hijab. In the 33 degree heat.
Together the two of them seemed to constitute some kind of metaphor of the extremes of feminity. Or perhaps just the diversity of femine life.

Get Prepared, Woman.


Last Friday when horrible Putin made his first moves into Ukraine, I was busy making sure that my regulars, many of whom work weekends, knew our line would be closed that weekend. We always put up signs but people don’t read them and most of them were glad to be reminded/informed.
Except for the grumpy old suitcase/homeless man who usually checks his myki but never actually takes a train. He responded by saying, “Why are you bothering about that? We’re on the verge of WW3. You need to stop worrying about that and get prepared, Woman… etc. etc. etc.”

I guess that told me
(Hope he’s wrong, just bye the bye)