Communicating With the Past

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Yesterday I went on a tour of the Telstra Museum with some old work colleagues of mine. Located in Hawthorn, the museum houses a fascinating array of telecommunications equipment from highly technical back-end equipment to phones of both the novelty … Continue reading

A Tourist In My Own Town

I’m not working at the moment. Sorry, I should clarify: I’m not in paid employment at the moment. I’ve been back from Europe three weeks and I still have no set routine from day to day, unless you count waking up at one end of the day and going to sleep at the other.

I have to confess that I haven’t been looking for work. The truth is, I don’t want to work just yet, and even looking for paid employment is a kind of work. I have had a very difficult couple of years and I keep telling myself that I deserve a little break. So instead, I’ve spent the last three weeks living like a sort of tourist in my own town.

By that I mean that I’ve been experiencing life in my own city at a tourist’s pace. A few weeks ago I went into the city to have lunch with a friend at the Spencer Street end of town. I then took a tram along Bourke Street to the Spring Street end where I had some errands to run. I looked around me on the tram and realised that nearly everyone else was going back to work after their lunch break; I could tell not only because they were mostly all in office gear but because it also showed on their faces. I was very conscious of the fact that for the first time in a long time I wasn’t rushing back to work after lunch, trying to think up an excuse for being late. In fact, I wasn’t rushing back to anywhere. It felt fantastic.

And this has happened a few times now. For example, last week I caught up with another friend, also not working, for a nice, long lunch at The Bohemian, a lovely tapas restaurant/bar at South Wharf. We sat outside and ate paella and drank beer and talked and talked. Unlike the times we’d had lunch together when we were both working, this time neither of us checked on the time every 20 minutes to make sure we weren’t going to be late back because neither of us had anywhere to get back to. Eventually we took a very leisurely stroll back along the river to Flinders Street Station to catch a train home, stopping along the way to grab some very refreshing and delicious gelato at Baci (the blood orange is to die for, in case you’re wondering).

When you’re not working, you see the city and its routines in a completely different way. When I worked in the city Monday to Friday, which is to say, for the last 14 years or so, I would see groups of travellers get on morning peak trains with their bikes, or people with suitcases or backpacks. They’d struggle to get on a peak train, squishing up against the hundreds of commuters already sardined into the train. I’d think, Really? You have to be on the train now? How could these people not see that they were taking up precious commuter space and making an already difficult part of the day even more difficult for us?

But when you’re not commuting you don’t even think about peak and non-peak times of the day. All hours of the day are created equal. And a train is just the means to get somewhere. It’s not part of your daily routine because you have no daily routine!

So yes, it’s true. After I’d been out all afternoon in South Wharf I’d got on a peak hour train at Flinders Street, curled up on a seat by a window and fell asleep, totally oblivious to the fact that I was depriving some poor, tired commuter of a seat.

Sorry about that.