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TrancePerth: travel not so easy

December 1, 2006 by Valentin Fyrst

I am enjoying a beautiful morning as I walk to the bus stop with a big smile on my face. The bus shelter is mine. No sign of the usual "patrons" and their intriguing early morning observation rounds. The bus is early.

This day feels like a routine breaker already. I decide to create a bit of chaos by not sitting in my habitual seat. Instead of the usual tired faces and commuters on the brink of suicidal boredom, I was pleased to observe panic. All it took was forcing them to explore uncharted seats. Aside initially perturbed faces, the first few stops happened like a déjà-vu, weighing down on the smile I started my journey with.

The erratic driving, a succession of grey faces, and the smell of cold cigarette smoke coming from the commuter behind me are slowly reminding me that I am on my way to work. Who are these people? What happened to always looking at the bright side of life? I usually believe that life is good no matter what, but these people are positively challenging the strength of my faith.

The best is yet to come. As we approach the last stop before the freeway, I start playing with the odds involved in filling the seat next to me. Instead of hopefully staring at numbered balls, solitary commuters are scanning the new arrivals wishing for a friendly face to select the seat next to them. This game goes on every morning accompanied by its priceless array of body language.

Today, I have hit the jackpot. A smiling lady picks the seat next to me and starts reading her magazine. A hint of her perfume fills the air, suggesting for an instant that this journey may actually be enjoyable. Isn't wishful thinking a beautiful thing? The next instant another, not so smiling, lady sits down across the aisle from my peaceful new neighbour with a sigh the length of a lifetime.

Lady luck has decided to deal me a rotten card. The two ladies are acquainted. I watch in disproval as the magazine gets rolled up, while a loud conversation invades the tranquillity of my three-dollar space. By the end of the trip I will know everything there is to know about the dislikes of the second lady.

After five minutes, my neighbour is unrolling the magazine again. Her eyes are gazing at the headlines, wishing for an interruption. I can sense her need for a dose of daily gossip. I am impressed. The verbal aggression of her interlocutor could have induced a gossip overdose by now.

The freeway is stuck and so am I. The only way out of this place is the Esplanade Busport and God knows how long it will take us to reach it. I bring my attention back to the other passengers who have, by now, entered their commuter trance. Lifeless and empty-eyed faces gazing deeply into the middle of nowhere. The top of the food chain at an absolute spiritual low is ingested by the city on weekday mornings, only to be regurgitated at the end of the day in a state of utter depletion.

We reach the Esplanade Busport and my neighbour has abandoned her plans of having a good day. The monologue next to her has yet to stop its annoying and constant stream of vocal bullets. Finally, the bus stops and opens its doors to a perceived freedom. Immediately confronted by a growing crowd, of identically programmed robots during their quotidian invasion of the city, I follow a flow deprived of a pulse.

By the time I reach the Terrace, I have forgotten about the beautiful morning I was enjoying less than an hour ago. Another day has drifted from its colourful beginnings into a sepia toned monotonous grind of heavyhearted individuals who have once more lost their identity.

The distant echo of a homeless man standing on the sidewalk and promoting the Big Issue with humour is the only reminder that life is good come what may.