Tram Tales

One of the things I like about Melbourne is the trams. Given that my experience with public transport has been limited to buses (and yay for the Auckland bus driver who said to the guy who pointed out that the light had changed to green, “sit down and shut up”), trams are a wonderful thing.

Melbourne trams are quite fun to ride on. They are quieter than buses, so there are many opportunities to overhear interesting conversations. All the ticket sales are automated, so it’s possible to go for a ride and not buy a ticket, which is why trams seem to be the transport of choice for crazy people.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been stealthfully taking notes of all the interesting stuff that’s happened on trams. So, if you please, here are some tram tales:

The Apartment Building

The tram passed by a building site where a multi-storied apartment building was being constructed. A woman in her forties sitting near me said to her friend, “I’d like to live in one of those for three months – just to see what it would be like. You see, I always say that I’d never live in one of those units, but I don’t know what it would be like, so it would be interesting to live in one, just for three months, to see what it would be like.”

Elvis and Tongue Piercing

Three people sat in the seats next to me. There was a guy who had big sideburns, big hair and a jacket with “Elvis is King” on it. He and his girlfriend sat across from me, and their other friend sat next to me. The girl started talking about how she and Elvis were going to get their tongues pierced. The other guy said, “do you know what it feels like? Here, I’ll show you.” He pulled a pair of pliars out of his bag and gave them to the girl and told her to clamp them on her tongue and pull it out as far as it could go. After a few attempts she managed to do that, and the guy said, “now imagine a needle going through your tongue.” She decided that there was no way she was getting her tongue pierced if it was going to feel like that, but Elvis didn’t seem too bothered by it.

Fellow Kiwi

A crazy Maori lady got on a tram late one night. She saw some other fellow crazy ladies down the other end of the tram and was yelling at them, trying to start a conversation. The other crazy ladies got off at the next stop and the Maori lady yelled at them for leaving. A New Zealand guy sitting near her had picked her as a fellow countryman and said to her, “there are a lot of us here, aren’t there.” She didn’t understand what he meant, so he said, “us Kiwis, there are a lot of us here.” If he was hoping for a conversation about hokey pokey ice cream or the All Blacks he wasn’t going to get it from her. She muttered something about the government, then got off at the next stop.

Da Bomb

Two guys sitting across from me were talking about stuff. One was Australian, the other from Northern Ireland. The tram passed a cheap car hire place called “Rent-a-bomb”. The Irish guy said that until he came to Australia he’d never heard an old car described as a bomb. But then, he said, it probably wouldn’t be too wise to be talking about bombs in Northern Ireland.

Bewigged Booze Hag

A drunk woman in her twenties got on a tram. She was with some crazy old guy who appeared to be her boyfriend. She kept asking for money or cigarettes but no one would give her any. She yelled out, “never wear a wig! It makes your head itch like Hell!” No one paid any attention to her and she got really angry and got off.


There was a scruffy-looking girl with a smelly creepy guy who had his arms wrapper around her. He appeared to think that he was her boyfriend, but she wasn’t so sure. He asked her if she wanted to come with him to a pub, but she said she couldn’t go to that suburb because her ex-boyfriend lived there and had said if he ever saw here there he’d kill her. The creepy guy got off, then the girl kept asking people if they could smell something strange.

Ladies Man

A young man got on the tram and saw a group of girls he knew. They said hello to him. Instead of taking one of the many nearby empty seats, he instead stood next to them. They pretty much ignored him while he was standing there and got off a few stops later. He then sat down in the empty seat they’d been in.

Happy Bon Bon

Two trams were stopped near each other. An old lady was on one and her friend was on the other. She spend the next five minutes maniacally waving at her friend. She’d wave, then look around to see if other people on the tram were looking at her, then she’d go back to waving at her friend. She only stopped when her friend’s tram left.


The restaurant tram passes the tram I’m on in the opposite direction. The woman sitting across from me says to her husband, “I can’t think of anything worse than eating on a tram.” It took all the willpower I had to not ask her if, say, getting smacked in the face would be worse than eating on a tram, because I think for a lot of people it would.


This old guy tells the tram driver that he wants to go to a suburb that is basically in completely the opposite direction that the tram is going in, and not even on that route. The driver goes to pains to explain this to the old guy, telling him where he needs to get off and what trams he needs to take to get there. The old guy looks thoroughly confused and says, “I’m getting the train there. Do you go to a train station?”

Attempted Racism

There’s a crazy old drunk guy and a few seats away is a group of Asian teenagers who are joking and laughing. The drunk guy starts saying “chinks… chinks… go back to where you came from…” but he’s not actually talking loud enough for the Asians to hear him. He keeps uttering “chinks” until a guy in a suit says to him, “look mate, if you haven’t got anything intelligent to say, then I suggest you keep quiet.” The crazy guy shuts up, then gets off at the next stop.