Commuting to the CBD each day is a lose-lose situation for everyone. "There's too much traffic". "Bikes don't obey the road rules". "The cost of parking is exorbitant". "People on public transport smell"...
Like many commuters, the train is my preferred method of transport, because when I'm late I have someone else to blame.
A creature of habit, I try to catch the same train each day. I get in the same carriage that I know is full of school kids and prams, but seats will still be available. It wasn't until I had an early morning meeting last week that I was overcome with a sense of nostalgia when I missed my train, my carriage and the passengers that I see every single day, yet have never spoken to.
What if Bell had finally stopped furiously texting her boyfriend accusing him of cheating and had found a different name to fill her phone screen? Maybe Tom the three-year-old didn't want to eat his Vegemite toast that day. What if one of the work colleagues who clearly lusted after each other finally decided to make a move? I would never know. Except I would. Because as I looked around at the people in my new carriage, I realised there are roles for every type of person on the train and each carriage has a person to fill it.
Although peak hours are always a sea of black, try and look beyond the tops of heads of people looking at their phones and identify the clear role that each person is playing. Each train carriage has:
The hungover one
Easily identifiable as the one in the sunglasses at 6 am in the middle of winter. The hungover one's clothes aren't ironed (clothes were an afterthought) and their coffee is large enough to keep Africa in trade for a decade. Their skin has a tinge of jaundice, and as they bite in to their bacon and egg roll you can see their thought process of -- please just let me get through this day.
The one on SEEK
This person wears black -- always. They take minimal care in their appearance and are discarding social media updates to trawl through ad after ad on their app. Their eyes are unhappy and their facial expressions never change. To all the ones on SEEK, hang in there guys!
The one that works in sales
There are two types of sales train shoes to fill. The ones in sharp suits with the over-priced briefcase, or the call centre worker drinking the gigantic V and wearing Converse. The latter is aspiring to be the former. The former wishes they were still the latter.
The corporate parent who can do it all
Well dressed with every hair in place is the corporate high flyer, with the pram, on their way to childcare before a 14-hour work day. They are often holding a toy, a piece of fruit or maybe even a bottle. They seem to have it all together. When they don't think anyone's watching, they let their guard down and stare longingly out of the train window, always wondering 'what if'...
The school kid with the highly strung parents
He has a violin case, a sports bag, a laptop bag and a backpack full of books. His lunchbox is Insta-worthy and he is wearing the school hat AND the blazer. Stop lying to your parents, kid -- tell them you want to be a bass guitar player and be done with it.
The content one
9 to 5, 5 days a week. Four weeks annual leave per year with two long-service leave stints that they used to re-plant their garden. This person has been in the same job for 20 years, caught the same train for 20 years and hosted the same dinner parties for 20 years. And they are perfectly fine with it.
The uni student
Wearing large hoop earrings and ripped jeans while sipping a matcha latte is not going to help you become a neuro surgeon, neither is studying an Arts Degree. No, you don't know more about life than all the people on the train just because you went on Contiki your once. And yes, you should finish your assignment before you go to happy hour.
The one paying the bills
This person is the social media hound. They are booking tickets and planning dinner at the pub after work. The absolute last thing they are doing while their eyes are glued to their phone, is looking at their work emails. Hell would freeze over sooner.
This realisation got me thinking -- if everyone has their place on a train, I wonder what mine is? And what's yours?
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