A Short Trip

In the vestibule area, where the two long bench seats oppose each other, a schoolboy sat down as I sat down, and I wondered why he didn’t want to go and be noisy with mates in some other carriage, and I wondered whether he had mates, and I hoped he had, but maybe he had just chosen to sit quietly and travel home in a quietly civilised manner like a little gentleman. This reasoning seemed fine to me at the time, but then my cranial organ wasn’t functioning so well by this time. The week had been long and hard in a strange sort of way which meant that if more work and longer hours had been required I could have put in the extra effort, however the load and the toll were such that when I stopped it was like a TV going into sleep mode: instant functionlesness. I looked at the schoolboy’s tie, which was still done up to the top, and his top button, which was still fastened, and I contented myself with the thought that he was indeed a very well behaved sort of little gentleman, and it was a pleasure to travel with him. I thought myself lucky that the boisterous group from the platform had not bustled onto my carriage, and then I thought no more about it. The boy’s journey may have lasted one stop or several.

Next time I paid attention was on the other side of the Harbour Bridge, on the other side of a tunnel, having passed through the busiest of the city stations. Passengers got in. It wasn’t crowded but there weren’t as many spaces as when my journey began. The boy had gone. Three people entered the vestibule, a pair of women and a man, wearing T-shirts and shorts, denim shorts he might have had on, and the women sat on my side of the area and the man sat on the other, and they proceeded to talk to each other across the intervening space, in German, quite loudly, as you need to be loud to make yourself heard when the train is screeching and rattling and making those clang sounds which never have been explained by anyone at CityRail, and one of the women was sitting so close to me that her arm kept brushing mine. She was young, both the women were, and she had that glowing, tanned skin which only some Europeans seem capable of having, when they should really be getting sunburnt in Australian conditions, and she was young, both the women were, but the man wasn’t so young, and he had the shaggy grey beard of an eccentric uncle who lives on a boat, and the women were possibly young and healthy and good looking, but it is hard to tell something like that when they are sitting next to you and you can’t keep your eyes open.

I attempted to read my Pickwick Papers, which meant reading the same sentence fourteen times, and thinking, “I do wish those people would stop talking so loudly; it isn’t charming at all that they are talking in another language, and it’s almost impossible to read with that going on”. But of course it wasn’t the loud German which made reading such a tough assignment: it was an addled brain in need of rest.

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Published in: on April 5, 2012 at 8:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

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