Friday, November 20, 2009

In MX today - My Daily Commute Safari

But if you're not reading MX on delayed public transport in the 35 degree heat (Summer has arrived in Sydney, and it's taking no prisoners) here it is. Watching the wildlife on public transport - are you a Koala, a Pole-Dancer or an EcoLeech?

Based off a CityRail customer courtesy campaign to name and shame the Beasts who make catching public transport a pain (the Hogger, the Rubbisher, the Yeller et al), I had to re-work to make it understandable to the other cities.


Summer is here and the temperature is high. That would be great if I was at the beach, but stuck in a crowded carriage with no air-conditioning and all the seats taken, I’m wishing I was somewhere – anywhere! – else.

To keep my mind off the heat, I’ve turned my daily commute into a safari trip. It’s the cheapskate version of going wildlife spotting by jeep; it’s hot, you're stuck in a vehicle and you don’t know what you might encounter but you hope it will be cute and not try to bite you.

Watching the wildlife is hard to do subtly. It’s embarrassing when you get caught looking, especially if you are trying to take a happy snap. But with just a little practise you can become quite an expert. Here’s a spotters’ guide to some of the exotic creatures you can find on your daily commute.

The Puller –You’ll find him checking Here's Looking At You, sitting on the bottom of double-decker carriages so he can look up the skirts of women getting on. He’s smiling and winking and ready to chat, even though it’s 6am and you have your headphones in. This isn’t a commute, it’s a pick-up joint. Wanna share a seat?

The Koala – “Can’t … keep… eyes … open…” Sleepy and out of it, particularly plentiful in the early morning, this creature nods off as soon as it sits down, but always wakes up just in time to stumble off at its stop. Its cousin, the Drunk Koala, can’t even do that, and travels in an endless loop, snorting and sleeping the whole trip away. If it could just keep it’s eyes open… Swaying and nodding, drooling and blinking, this koala doesn’t do mornings. Or afternoons. Or anything.

The Pole Dancer – Like soccer moms at their first stripping class, all they know is they have to hang on to that pole. They gyrate and swing round it, blocking the doors with their moves. And if someone manages to peel them off, they go straight to the next best place to practice a dance routine on a packed train - the stairs. You’ll need to do a bump and grind to get past them, but don’t worry; you don’t need to tip.

The Poser – It might be dull and cloudy, but he’s wearing huge Paris style sunnies. Indoors. On a train. In a tunnel. He can’t see you, but he knows you can see him. Most likely to be seen cruising the city centre loop in souped-up shades and waxed-up hair, he’s not reading, he’s not speaking, he’s just here to be seen. This beast can even be a hybrid; his immobile pose and huge shades can mean he’s posing on the outside, but behind those shades he's all sleepy eyed Koala.

The Invisible Boyfriend – Wonder why that lady glares so much when you ask “is this seat taken”? That’s not an empty seat, or even a bag rest. That’s their Invisible boyfriend. It might look empty but there’s a whole heap of nothing sitting there, with just her grimacing and glaring to warn people off. And if you take that spot, where will he sit?

The EcoLeech – The bus is near empty, but they want the seat next to you and when they take it, they squish right in and on you. Rude? No, they’re being green and sharing your body heat, it uses less energy to stay warm if everyone just snuggles up. Cutting into carbon emissions, and your personal space, it’s not impolite, it’s environmentally friendly.

So next time you’re travelling in the morning, take a good look at the locals. You might spot a whole new Beast. Provided you can just keep your eyes open and turn not into a Koala…


Sadhbh Warren is an MX reader who deliberately sits on peoples’ invisible friends.

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