Station Stories

everyday stories

Sunday at the station

Sunday – the thought of all that lovely overtime money comforts me as I stand by the barriers on my rubber mat (makes your knees ache less at the end of the day) in the chilly wind and hope someone is going to ask me a question before my brain explodes from boredom.  Fortunately last weekend Stereosonic was on at the Showgrounds and droves of people streamed up the escalators to catch the special train on plat 6 giving me a chance to catch up on young folks fashion.  Coloured hair seems to be all the rage this year but the dark haired girl with the tight yellow leggings and fake breasts in the leopardskin bra top seemed to be making an original statement of her own.  They all had to go to the toilets. Since several of them seemed to go in at a time leaving a distinctly alcoholic smell behind them, I concluded they were just using them in the traditional way.  We ran out of toilet paper and didn’t have the key to change it and since I could hear the young folks telling each other to take some extra loo-paper to use later, I figured putting a loose roll in wasn’t going to last long.  So in the interests of everyone getting an equal share, I doled out bits to the toilet goers.  After five years of study at Victoria’s best universities, it has come to this.  I am a glorified toilet attendant.

The Iceman Cometh


Imaged pinched from the ABC
Imaged pinched from the ABC


While working in the booking office at the junction, I met this week’s Customer of the Week.  A vague cheerful heavyset man, he stood at the window searching though his wallet.

He’d lost something valuable, he told us.

My friendly workmate pointed out his credit card was sticking out of his shopping bag – a bag that also contained nappies.

“It’s not that,” he said, though he was glad to have it found.

“Have you lost your Myki train pass?” she asked

He kept on searching.

“No. Something much more valuable.”

“Then it must be drugs,” joked my workmate.

Funny how when making a risky joke, you sometimes get the right answer without meaning to. A moment later the man had pulled a little packet of Ice Crystals and was showing it to us with all the nonchalance of a man showing a new sim card. Apparently he should have had two packets and could only find one.

“That’s 800 dollars gone,” he said.

So there we were examining this tiny packet of highly illegal substance.

“It looks like shards of glass,” said my co-worker politely. Hard to know the etiquette of such moments, but politeness seemed the best policy at that point.

“Yes, it’s very pure,” he said.  “I’ll cut it.  Perhaps I left the other packet where I was before. I’ll go and look.”

“That sounds like a good idea,” I said

Always good to make helpful noises when unsure of etiquette.

Tucking the packet back in his wallet he moved away from the counter before turning back to correct any possible misconceptions.

“Not that I use it you understand.  This is just business.”

Apparently that was supposed to be better.

I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t believe this station story.  We aren’t sure we believe it either.


Station Stories -Thank God for the Salvos


Metro and the Salvos have a project going on where bands of youth workers rove the trains and stations, talking to young people and heading off potential graffiti etc.  I know this because they’ve started to come to the station when out Flexible Learners come in from their school. They hand out lollipops and chat to kids and try to entice them into their Employment and drug counselling programs.  Things have been pretty toxic with the FL’s these last few months.  There’s been verbal abuse, racial vilification and one incident of breaking into a car and fighting with police that lead to kids being arrested. Individually they seem like nice enough kids, but it’s hard to take the long view that these are troubled kids for who need to be patiently enticed away from behavior that will lead to jail in later life when you’ve had them telling you that you’re a F***ing M*** and I know where you live. But having the Salvos there does seem to help keep a lid on things. And they had out lollipops to the rest of us too.

Seniors Week, Zombies and Hot Cross Buns

Seniors week and the trains are full of happy seniors living large, going places (for Free!) taking country trains or taking their grandchildren to the zoo(for Free!). For instance I met two at the junction station who had been up to Flemington Bridge to the Homy Ped shoe factory there (4 pairs of shoes for $150!) and were now off to Werribee to visit a friend. Such larks!
Seniors week didn’t make much difference to Mr A. He’s an elderly Italian man with such bad arthritis in his shrunken swollen fingers, he has trouble gripping his MYKI card and we all just open the gate for him instead. Every day regular as clockwork he stumps in and takes the train over to Footscray market to do his shopping. He goes twice on the weekends when his family visits and he needs two trips to manage the load
There was a Zombie shuffle in town and about half a dozen Zombies dressed up in their excellent blood red and rot black make-up came through. What was funniest was the way the ticket inspectors stiffened when they saw them. Not being as hip and cool to the trend as Moi :), they thought they had a first aid situation on their hands.
But the cutest thing I saw at the junction didn’t concern seniors. It was the nerdy youth all in heavy metal black with the upside down white cross on his black baseball cap. Made him look like a hot cross bun. Sooo Cute!
Probably not the effect he was going for.

So Hungover


A man got off the train and collapsed onto a seat with his face in his hands.  When I went over to see if he was alright, he said, “I’m just sooo hungover. I had to get off the train.”  Poor thing, he didn’t thing he could even keep a glass of water down.  Unfortunately he’d chosen the wrong station for a quiet sit down. About 5 mins later 100 cheery school children came over from the Zoo.

Missing partner

On Friday C, one half of a homeless couple who frequent the station and make a living begging at the local shops, had mislaid her partner M. She came through the station twice, all the time worrying, worrying, about M.  First she went to the case worker and then to her partner’s step father as he is the contact if the police or hospitals pick up M when he’s drunk or has had an epileptic fit. She wasn’t willing to ring the police directly.  She clearly didn’t trust them.

C and M doss down in an old shed somewhere near the park which they say is nice and dry, thought I was relieved to hear that they have moved in with a friend for the winter.  Once when she was a bit drunk, C told me all about her life which seemed to involve abuse by ex-prisoner partners, estranged children and struggles with the State Trustees. She’s short and round and very non-descript looking, but on the rare occasions she takes off her beanie, she has beautiful auburn hair. She and M seem very happy together – a world of their own contained in the small backpacks they carry round.  I was very glad to see M safely back yesterday when he waved out of the train at me as they were going by.

Station Stories – Noisy Mynahs take the bread loaf

Wednesday was one of those beautiful autumn days Melbourne specializes in.  Sunny with a slight chill in the air that sparkles on the skin like cool champagne sparkles on the tongue.  In the Sunflower field by the railway lines, the three homeless men were sitting outside the tent having yarn in the sun.  At my station the trees were bright with birdsong and the (Australian native) noisy mynahs were out in force, beating up impertinent top knot pigeons and squabbling over squashed jelly snakes.  Someone had thrown a loaf of bread still in its plastic bag onto the tracks and a neat circle of four mynahs had formed around it   As I watched, the one standing in the middle leaned over and with the flourish of someone instructing a class, pulled a crust out of a hole in the bag.