Local resident Bob Cumming first introduced Little Free Libraries into the area back in 2014. Its great if you forget to bring something to read on the train. These days I and lots of other people stroll to the station to see what’s in this beautiful library. I try not to take anything home but I usually fail. Oh well. There are worse things than having too many books. During Covid lockdown Bob built this beautiful tribute to the old station which has since been replaced by grey concrete. Thank you so much for this and all the other things you do Bob.
Creekman has been replaced by a tall cheerful Maori New Zealander in his early thirties who always wears dark glasses. He says he’s met Creekman and gained permission to use his camping site down by the creek. (I have a feeling there is a protocol among the rough sleepers over campsites) He’s hoping to get a place when he makes enough money from casual construction but till then he says likes camping out in the fresh air and near the sound of water. He bustles about with great verve. He comes for a regular wash up in my toilets but he’s very neat and organized about it. When his welfare payments come in he celebrates by having a BBQ.. We had a discussion about Bonds underpants yesterday. Apparently they chafe. Sort yourself out Bonds.
A day of sheeting rain. Now the trains are not stopping at Essendon Station, because the only way out of the historical station is a subway which is now flooded. Not sure how the staff manage to get out. This means that if you’ve parked there you have to go to one of the stations on either side and walk 20 minutes. All over Melbourne and the rest of the East coast of Australia there is flooding due to the excessive amounts of rain and this is just one very small effect.
Just in case people think my whole railway working life is spent dealing with the mentally troubled, I feel I need to emphasize I spend most of my time talking to little kids and their parents/grandparents.
Every day I hear, “S/he enjoyed the train trip more than the zoo.”
“His/her parents are working so I look after him once/twice week.”
And “Look!” (as child holds up the plush animal they have bought in the zoo)
It’s important to look shocked if the child has bought a snake or redback spider toy.
Suggesting they wave at the train driver as they come in, is a good way to distract someone who’s very tired or doesn’t want to get into their pram. Most of the drivers seem to enjoy this too.
Because face facts, little kids are cute, (mostly).
I really enjoy this aspect of my work.
One of my favorite things is to watch a child snuggle into the side of the adult who is reading to them. (I’m an ex-librarian, what can I say?) Before Covid I had a box of children’s books in the waiting room just for this but I put them away in case they were a vector of disease. I’m not sure whether to put them back out yet. Does anyone have any thoughts about this?
A big shout of thanks to a group of Year 12 (?) students from Bayside High School. Last week they alerted me to the fact that someone was sitting on the tracks clearly hoping to be hit by a train. While I let Central know to stop the trains, called the police and ambulance and kept the customers informed, a group of boys went round to the young man and talking gently to him, persuaded him off the tracks by the time the police came.
The students disappeared once the trains were running again. The young man sat in the office with police for a while until the ambulance came. He was only 18, had been in rehab and despaired of ever getting off drugs. I hope those kids helped him find the will to keep fighting. They certainly inspired me. Great to have your help, guys!
I swear this is not how it normally is at Zoo station. Mostly its tots and grandparents. Its just been a bad couple of weeks.
Zoo station has a regular customer T. who shows up and threatens to jump under the trains. He’s got an ABI (Acquired Brain Injury) and I don’t think he’s suicidal but we have to take him seriously. Yesterday he upped the ante by covering his face with his own faeces and saying he had a knife. (he didn’t) The Control desk took that seriously and stopped me from leaving the Junction for Zoo Station. So I got to watch the police deciding what to do with T. on CCTV. The poor young police man who was holding T.s arm threw up twice at the smell or the idea of a face full of poo. After a 20 minutes train stoppage it was all over and I was allowed to go down to my station. Strange when you get there. You wouldn’t know anything dramatic had happened except for the policeman puke on the sidewalk. Easily fixed with hot water and disinfectant.
As for T. he seems to have been content with stopping the trains and having the police and ambulance attend. The police took him home. (on foot not in their car)
A class of primary school kids have a long wait at Zoo station. A group of them discover the public telephone. Press buttons!! A receiver on a cord!! Public phone calls are free now so 7 of them line up and call their parents on this antique communications device. Such excitement!
I feel old.
A few days later
Parmesan cheese attack on my local pay phone. It’s rubbed into everything and pressed into the headset. Tried to scrape it off myself but it needs a technician. The station entrance is now redolent with Parmesan. Hope the birds like it. Odd thing is – it didn’t put off the under 12’s who had a grand time playing with it despite the smell. Come to think of it – strange smells are part of my remembered the public phone experience too.
Last Monday week while I was going to work, my train suddenly stopped between Brunswick and Jewel two inner suburbs famed for their small streets, crowded houses and coffees.
“We have a kangaroo on the tracks, folks, and we need to stop for it to be removed,” explained the driver.
Just then the two men above walked past my window followed by a little knot of zoo staff carrying clipboards and cloths. One man carried what was obviously a tranquilizer gun and the other was carrying a some kind of technology.
We waited and waited and then this little procession came back past us carrying the tranquilized kangaroo in the make shift cloth stretcher. Talk about being on the spot. Later Chanel 7 contacted me on Facebook and asked me if I had footage (I didn’t. Another chance at fame and fortune missed.)
The kangaroo was taken into the local Zoo where sadly it died of stress and earlier injuries later. Kangaroos occupy the same ecological niche as deer and can be similarly nervous.
This one had already endured a two hour trip to the city in the back of a hay truck a couple of days earlier and been chased by dogs on a nearby oval. Wildlife spotters had been trying to catch up with the poor frightened creature for a couple of days and finally ran it to ground on a suburban railways track.
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.
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.