Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Public Transport Diaries: Day 5

It was pouring with rain when I left home this morning. Hmmm, rain and public transport... You do the maths. You already know, that irrespective of the farmers and drought-stricken people everywhere (hello Toowoomba!), I am going to bitch and moan. I suppose the good folk who maintain the buses had become so used to the lack of rain that any attempt to waterproof their vehicles had long become part of their history, a kind of mystical past that no-one need worry about too much now. This is a very feeble and self-indulgent (no!) attempt to inject some humour into relating the moment when I realised that many of the seats on the bus I caught were wet, not because anyone had forgotten to close the windows, but because there were obviously holes in the bus’s seams.

I still had my errands from yesterday to run, so I went into the city first. It was too early for the film festival again, but I sorted out the prescription debacle. You will all be pleased to know that henceforth there will be no sudden bursts of irrationality from me [insert evil laugh here].

I caught the Rocket to the University. Traffic was a nightmare. Wasn’t sure if it was on account of the wet-weather craziness or if an accident had happened. It was impossible to tell because the windows on the bus had fogged up completely. I became concerned at one point because the driver made no attempt to clear the window she was looking through. I wondered how she could see. Eventually, she succumbed. She made me nervous again when she diverted from the usual route to the University. I suppose on a Rocket it doesn’t matter how we get to our destination, but I don’t find it much fun when they take the roller coaster route in the rain. Have I mentioned the extreme hills in this part of the world before?

After a day of rain leaking into their interiors, the old buses reeked of mildew on the way home.

I finally got my BIFF pass on my way through the city. When I was on the bus, I became aware that I was really hungry; it was after 5.30 and I had last eaten at 11.30—three pieces of overpriced sushi (bring on the effects of VSU. Yeah. Woo. Hoo.) My stomach was grumbling and I was wet and cold, so I indulged in some hot chips in one of the city’s food courts.

I simply must report to you on the culinary habits of a girl I observed eating across the way from me. She was eating a bowl of soupy noodles, using chopsticks, while in the other hand she held a half eaten ice-cream. Every now and then, she put aside her chopsticks to take either a bite of sushi, or some pieces of fruit salad. Now, I see nothing at all wrong with any of these choices individually. I’ll concede there is a perfectly logical match between the noodles and the sushi, and the fruit and the ice-cream. But ice-cream and noodle soup? Ice-cream and sushi? Is this some culinary match—like strawberries, basil and balsamic vinegar—that makes no sense to the ear or the eye, but works its hitherto hidden magic on the tongue? I was aghast and fascinated. I had difficulty refraining from staring.

I made my way to the bus stop for home and found I had 15 minutes to wait. I thought I would wait, but then a man wearing a jacket with the logo of a company whose call centre I used to work in came and stood far too close to me. He looked at me a lot, so perhaps he recognised me—although he wasn’t familiar to me—but he didn’t say anything. Either way, I feel sick when I see that smug logo. All that, ‘How do you know if you’re ...’ makes my stomach turn. I tell you how you know, because the person on the other end of the fancy phone from you is working for pittance in an environment that sanctions your abusive phone manner and your sense of entitlement to be that way.

I decided to spend the waiting time window shopping. I returned with time to catch the bus, but it was late, no doubt due to the weather-induced traffic chaos. There were two teenage girls, who had expected the bus to be on time, indeed, whose timetable for getting where they were going was contingent on the bus being scrupulously on time. They did not cope well with the delay, thereby ensuring that I did not cope well with delay. They started almost hyperventilating with hysteria and kept saying in their high-pitched teenage girl voices ‘Oh my God!’ and every third or fourth word was ‘like’. It would have been wrong to scream ‘Shut the f*** up!’ They managed to attract the attention of a dubiously avuncular older man, who took it upon himself to offer them advice. Ewww. At that point I began to make sure he wasn’t being too creepy towards them. Then I got off at my stop, I hope the other passengers were looking out for them.

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