I railed and I raved

September 17th, 2007

I’m planning a trip to Melbourne. It’s going to be a jaunt, and completely and utterly nothing to do with work, and great gobs on fun. And after all the gin drinking and hallway dancing involved with the crazy conference types, I’m going to need the let down.

AND how.

There’s going to be galleries and ambling and shopping and eating and drinking and noodling and sleeping and hopefully some live music. As soon as the Corner Hotel updates their upcoming gig stuffs. Although I’m sure we’ll find something. And it’s going to be fabulous. And I get to share it WITH someone fabulous. Hooray.

So alla this thinking about the awesomeness of one of my favourite cities in the world got me to thinking about trams. And that got me to thinking about public transport in general. And as I was saying tonight in an email, I’ve had a phobia of most forms of public transport for a very long time. And this has nothing to do with me being scared of stranger cooties or thronging with the masses or uncomfortable seats of un-air conditioned trains or anything like that. I don’t mind any of that stuff and I like getting in amongst it as much as the next girl. It has, however, absolutely everything to do with my horrendous sense of direction.

Anyone who knows me even remotely well understands the completeness of my directionlessness. I’m hopelessly hopeless. In shopping malls – you know, those great massive vast ones with 4 levels of stores and 3 food courts and what not – I completely lose all sense of up and down. I walk into a store, only to walk out of it again and stand for like 30 seconds trying to figure out which direction I was going before I went in. And I can list examples from even just this weekend. Like the fact that I was told to meet the boy at Redeye Records, which I’ve been to many times before, but I still had to ask for directions. And even then on the way I had to phone to make sure I DID know that North meant walking toward the harbour not away from it. And then there was the car park debacle. I’d only parked the car like 5 hours before, but when we headed back there do you THINK I could find it again? There was an exasperating 5 minutes of me going BUT I KNOW IT WAS HERE and him going HEY, it’s okay! And then the security guard found it for me. He was really very nice about it and I don’t even think he was laughing on the inside. Anyway, I digress.

This directionlessness does not really bode well with some forms of public transport. The trains are all good – you don’t need to know north or south or suburbs or streets or any of that hoo-ha. They run on their wonderfully unchanging tracks, they stop very predictably at the stations they’re supposed to, and even if they rarely run on time, you mostly know there’s another one coming eventually. And you always know where to get off, because you have no choice. Stations are stations. There’s no choosing between blocks or bus stops, or having to hop from one street to another to change bus lines. Train stations are so wonderfully predictable, and even I can read the train network map. I mean, the lines are COLOURED! C’mon! To get to Windsor I have to get on the yellow one, and to get to Kings Cross I have to get on the blue one.

Buses are a whooooole other thing. Once, when I first moved to Sydney, I got on a bus to Cronulla when I was meant to be heading to Coogee. Anyone familiar with Sydney right now has just snorted heartily. That was my first Sydney bus experience and sufficiently traumatic that I didn’t try it solo again for a very long time. And then there’s the whole having to tell someone where you want to get off. How are you supposed to do that if you don’t even know where you’re going? I guess I could try ‘umm, I don’t really know where I’m getting off. I’ll know it when I get there. Do you think $2.80 will cover that?’ And now there’s the scary ticket only buses. I really, really understand the why of these things. Really. But as a public transport part-timer (in the magical, suburban, infrastructure free land I live in we have little choice but to drive) these things are scary. I’m scared of rejection, just like every other fragile human being. I don’t want to be ejected from the bus because I’m not the holder of a magical ticket.

And don’t even get me started on the freakiness of the ferries.

I’m getting better though. I have my public transport buffer on the weekends now, and I really think I’m at the stage where I’d take a punt on a bus if I was on my own. That is, if I wasn’t in a hurry, or needing to actually GET to where I wanted to go.

Trams are a whole new challenge, but I’m game. I will take on the trams, and I will win. And I will see YOU, Melbourne, in December.

I can’t hardly wait.


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