We authors are forced to be self-motivated, Because I had just completed the Young Adult fantasy novel ‘Ferdie & Miranda’, this loosely based on Shakepeare’s ‘The Tempest’, I have set myself the task of writing more blogs. When I starting blogging, I had promised myself to produce at least one a fortnight, but have not kept to my word.
Three and some years ago I had an accident that prevented me from driving. In some ways I sorely missed the independence driving a car gives, though several people kept insisting that battling heavy traffic and negotiating difficult parking didn’t fit my primary skills.
This acknowledged, and even though I have returned to using a car, I find that I am quite happy with other forms of transport and in this way I can feel virtuous about reducing my carbon footprint.
Of course I am fortunate. Close to where I live are four separate tram lines plus several bus routes. They can take me to city and out the other side. It’s less easy from here to cross the suburbs in another direction. For any interested reader, I live in Melbourne Australia, a city that sprawls into endless suburbia.
Given my recent non-driving experiences, I am rapidly finding that a city which depends on public transport is a far nicer, friendlier place. Sure, it’s annoying to have to wait in bad weather for trams and buses running late, usually due to some reason that’s not their fault. Or those vehicles that are so crowded, I am in intimate proximity to total strangers…. not that this matters as they are usually too busy to notice me as they text, email or play games.
Yet every so often, there are surprising rewards. I have made several new friends by talking to strangers. Conversely I watched a man abuse another over his mobile and by the violence of his language, terrify all the passengers. I have felt sorry for the elderly when they are not given a seat, and watched kids behave badly, sometimes very badly.
Also, I am aware that tram and bus drivers have become a different breed. When I was a kid tramming to school, our tram conductor was known by every child as ‘Tonguey’. This poor fellow had the unfortunate habit of rolling his tongue with an open mouth so we saw the purple muscles and tendons that supported it. Perhaps we wouldn’t have laughed quite so much, if he didn’t so openly hate kids.
But all is different now. We have lost our conductors and are now left to the merciless Myki card, which often doesn’t work and which no visitor understands… or is even meant to. Once trammies and conductors were seen as ‘working class’. It’s different now. Because all transport is computerised, drivers need tertiary qualifications to successfully navigate traffic. Yesterday my tram was driven by a young sweetly spoken woman who, in a previous age would surely have held a ‘very important job’.
Then the odd taxi I indulge myself in. In this city they are mostly driven by Indians. Thus I have been able to learn a lot about their lives. Many tell me this is the only job they can find. I have been driven by lawyers, doctors and I.T. specialists. It all makes for interesting conversations. Apart from their misery at not finding work in their chosen professions, they mourn the lack of extended family and perceive the rest of us as raising utterly spoilt children, pointing out that one day we will rue this.
So what I am suggesting is that more of us discard our cars and take to a more convivial form of getting to a required destination, particularly if one lives in an area where public transport is available, which unfortunately is not always the case.