I’m getting better at surviving visits to Melbourne. I’m learning to accept the crowds, the weird tasting water, and the smell. During my last visit, my confidence was so high that I even decided to brave public transport unaided.
Usually upon arriving in Melbourne, I catch the bus into town where my sister meets me to take me home. This time, armed with explicit instructions, I caught the bus into town and hopped on a tram. All by myself.
Because I’m a big girl and these things shouldn’t be that hard.
My heart was beating with only the slightest bloodcurdling terror as I stumbled aboard and searched for a seat with the least sticky residue.
I sat down and, feeling smug, texted my sister: On tram now. Be home soon.
She replied: Are you on the right tram? Did you follow my instructions?
Ye of little faith, I thought, and texted: Yes.
I knew the journey would take at least 30 minutes, so I settled into one slightly odorous seat, leaned away from the woman next to me, who was chewing pieces of gum before carefully replacing them in their packets, and plugged in my iPod.
30 minutes later and there was still no sign of my sister’s street. The gum lady had since left and I was alone in tram-stickiness.
40 minutes later, the tram stopped and the conductor called out, “Last stop!”
Last stop? What the what? Something had gone terribly awry.
I rang my sister. “I am lost.”
She wasn’t in the least bit surprised.
It turned out I had caught the tram travelling in the opposite direction to my sister’s house. This is easy to do if you have absolutely no observational skills, an inability to follow instructions and a general lack of worldly competence.
Luckily, hopping on a tram heading back the other way was relatively simple, so I started the whole process over again.
I clambered on the correct tram and sat morosely, staring out the window.
And then a man sat on me.
“Excuse me, I’m sitting here.” I said.
“Oh, I didn’t see you,” was his completely inadequate reply.
I cried quietly to myself and texted my sister: I hope you have wine.