I listened to George Benson.
I wore a long-sleeved shirt, and immediately began to regret it as soon as I left the house. I didn't want to be a sweaty slick on the tram, so I walked to Brunswick Street with the intention of catching a tram. One just left as I got there, one of those long new, ones with numbers of articulations. I'd just missed it. But there was another coming, so I crossed over to catch it. But Brunswick Street was bumper to bumper. The first tram had simply crossed the intersection and stopped. The second one would take an age to get to me. The first one was going nowhere. I might as well walk to the interchange at Victoria Parade, so I did.
I got to the interchange just as the first tram did. I crossed the road and jumped aboard. Three stops from the free zone, it crossed my mind to risk it. But no. What is my mantra? $4 is a poor risk for humiliation. I can afford $4 to avoid the tramways boot squad from hauling me off the convey belt of worker ants heading to the daily grind in the hive. I swiped my PT card. I remained by the door. Before-mentioned sweating in mind, at least at the door there was the promise of the occasional gusts of fresh air at each stop.
There I was huddled by the door – okay, okay, so one person finds it very difficult to make a huddle, I was huddled none the less – so I can breathe in great lung bucketful’s of fresh air every time the doors slide open. The doors slid open at Albert Street, I swung out into the breeze. The morning was fresh, the sky overcast. The air was lovely. I swung back in. More people get off at Albert Street than I would have given credit. I swung out at Spring Street. Oh yes, some woman with a sphincter as tight as nun’s nasty gave a tutt, or a sideways glance, however, this being the first tram, the front tram a head of the one behind one would have thought it would be full, but it was not. The tram was unusually empty. At 101, I was against the wall, right next to the door, and there was nobody behind me. The woman sitting down, against the wall admittedly, stood up and said, "Excuse me."
Really, I thought? I had on my bat-fink shield of steel headphones so I ignored her.
"Excuse me," she said again. I couldn't hear her, but I knew what she was saying.
I looked sideways at her.
She stood there cats-bum as you like glaring at me.
She doubled down on the serious look.
I didn't move.
She was determined.
It was a standoff.
Stupid bitch, I thought.
I spun around on the sole of my shoe, with an over-exaggerated sweep of my arm and mouthed, After you.
She shook her head like an irate grandma, half-stepped and half-pushed into me, as she manoeuvred around me, none too pleased.
George sang, Turn Your Love Around.