Words by Ruby Ellam Art by Chloe Papas
How many times have you ran for the train at the last possible moment in order to make it to your class on time before you see it’s delayed, or better yet, suspended? It may as well be flipping you off because it sure feels like it. You think for 30 seconds about the possible bus and tram alternatives before deciding that this was the only excuse you needed to skip class and go back to sleep. You hope you don’t get sick later in the semester because you are now wasting one of your ‘get out of class free’ cards.
Don’t get me wrong, ever since moving to Melbourne, I’ve been enamoured with the concept of public transport–concept being the key word here. The convenience of getting almost anywhere on a large, communal land spaceship where I get to brood and pretend I’m in an indie music video, is electric. I can’t drive and I refuse to walk so trains, trams and buses is about as good as it gets. But I have a few qualms.
Including, though not limited to, those fucking Myki cards that I lose more frequently than matches on Tinder. The ever-present smell of shit, piss or vomit (or all three) on a Sunday morning. Or the poorly lit stations that feel more like the set of a badly produced high school play about bullying. Also, why is there always one guy that won’t stop staring directly at your face? Public transport is to sexual harassment, what podcasts are to white men—preferred vehicles of communication.
Melbourne’s public transport has disappointed me more than any man could and has drained me of precious time and money in a way that I imagine is only comparable to raising a child. Other than Ben Affleck and bigots, the sadistic PTV inspectors are my nemesis. They wander up and down the aisles and plunge my clinical anxiety into new depths while I desperately search my memory for confirmation that I tapped on. It really should be illegal for such low-level officials to cause so much fear.
I don’t want to sound dramatic but if one more PTV inspector interrogates me I’m going to have a breakdown on the Sandringham line! If I have to get one more goddamn replacement shuttle then I’m going to sue the City of Melbourne for emotional battery! No, I will not take any suggestions of appropriate stress reducing meditations! I just want revenge.
Okay, I might be overreacting. But I’ve also sexted someone, waiting for them to get to my house and received a dick pic with the caption, “the train is delayed, I’ll be an extra 20 minutes.” I’ve never been so disheartened. There’s nothing sexy about railway construction.
Not to mention my household’s fascination with true crime podcasts. Despite being small, physically weak women that scare far too easily we now live in absolute terror that one of us will be murdered walking to, travelling on or leaving a train. And there’s the dreaded, “did you know the trains aren’t running?” “How are you getting home tonight?” “Text me when you leave… and when you get on and off the tram!”. Then the obligatory “Are you dead?” message when they are late.
As such, I can only conclude that PTV hates women and the Zodiac Killer is alive and coming for all of us.
However, I will give PTV the credit it deserves for one of my favourite memories. A particularly obnoxious girl in my first-year philosophy class snubbed the smile I offered when I noticed we were getting onto the same carriage home. Almost immediately, the angels of death descended and demanded she present a valid ticket–which she didn’t have. I won’t say that I actively enjoyed her very public grovelling and subsequent shaming, though I will remind everyone: Karma’s a bitch and so are PTV inspectors.