Excuse me, sir

The bus was pretty full and the aisles were full of people standing. A seated person got off, leaving their seat empty. The guy standing right next to that seat didn’t sit in it. Instead he offered it to the girl standing in front of him. She refused it, saying she was getting off soon. So he next offered it to the next girl standing ahead of her friend. She also refused it. The man insisted, saying “ladies first”. She said, “mate, those rules don’t exist anymore.” He replied, “they do for me.” The seat ended up being taken by a man standing behind the guy.

This reminded me of the lifts in the building where I used to work. They were really small, and there was only really enough room for one person to exit at a time. So when a large number of people were leaving a lift, it was really only comfortable to do it in single file. Most of the time this worked out well. But there was this one man who’d stand to the side of the door, holding it open with his hand (like he thought the doors sensors were perpetually broken) and say “ladies first” meaning that I or any other lady in the lift would have to brush past him as we left. I got sick of it and ended up telling him it was “not safe” and insisting on him going first.

There’s a difference between being courteous to a stranger, like holding a door open that would otherwise slam in their face, and doing extreme things for “the ladies”. I can understand offering a bus seat to an elderly, disabled, or pregnant person, but to have a seat offered to me just because I’m female is like suggesting that I’m weaker or less able to stand up on a bus. I’d rather see the empty seat to go the nearest person.

Bing bong

I checked out the brand new underground train station. Having recently travelled on the Paris Metro and London Underground, I now consider myself to be a 100% expert on underground train stations and have made the following observations.

  • It’s cold. This could possibly be due to the fact that the Britomart centre thing is still under construction, so it’s likely that there are great big holes where cold wind can come gushing in. Either that or it’s just a really chilly building. 
  • Automated announcements. Every couple of minutes a pre-recorded announcement would be made. They were voiced by one of those voiceover guys who does television ads and sounds like the sort of person who’d rarely – if ever – travel by train. One message started with a cheery, but very white sounding “Kia ora!”
  • One of the announcements advised passengers that when a train is pulling into the station, that waiting passengers must step back one metre from the edge of the platform. Why don’t they just do what other train stations do and paint a line along the platform and write “STAND BACK” on the platform. Interestingly, that message was nowhere to be heard when the next train pulled in.
  • There were also live announcements from someone in the station. He was suffering from the same affliction that Air New Zealand pilots have, that is, the tendency to waffle on and on when all that’s required is a short and simple message. While repeating the destinations of a train for maybe the third time, one of the automated announcements came on, so there was a cacophony of polite yet unintelligible information echoing around the station.
  • The station’s decor looks like an old warehouse that’s been converted into a gay nightclub. I don’t mean that as an insult. I think it’s the most accurate way to describe it. There’s lots of bare concrete but also concrete surfaces that have been covered by a stainless steel mesh. There are a bunch of cone-shaped skylights along the middle. At the top of every cone is a silver ball, which resembles a disco mirror ball, just smoother. But the gayest thing of all is the lighting along the side walls. The bare concrete is lit up in the colours of the gay rainbow. It looks fabulous.
  • The station is missing advertising. It looks like there are spaces for ads. I think when the ads come in it’ll stop looking less gay discoesque. There are also no vending machines. These are essential for a good train station. But I suspect that there may be small shops opening that will sell drinks ‘n’ junk food.
  • There’s no “bing bong” noise before the announcements are made. They really need to get their act together and get a “bing bong” noise.

I suppose the next step for me is to attempt to catch a train.

Mew

I saw “The Good Girl” at the movies. Right in the row in front of me was what I think was a grandmother and some of her grandchildren. Ok, so looking after the grandkids during the school holidays is cool, but when you take a bunch of little kids to see a movie (and these were little kids – I reckon the youngest would have been about 4, the oldest 8), pick a kids movie. Pick one with a G rating. Pick a fun cartoon or a sassy kids adventure movie. Don’t take your grandkids to a dark, adult comedy. Maybe the gran was thinking that a movie called “The Good Girl” would be about a well-behaved female child. Ha!

The kids spent most of the movie twisting in their seats, bored. The dark adult humour of the film didn’t get anywhere near them. The grandmother spent most of the movie with her neck turned towards the kids, getting them to sit down, handing them popcorn and generally not watching the movie.

But the best bit came during the scene in the movie when Tim Blake Nelson’s character comes out of his house with just a quilt wrapped around him. His dog bites the quilt and pulls it away and there’s a brief glimpse of his donger. As soon as the penis appeared, the grandmother quickly reached over and put her hand over the eyes of the kid in the seat next to her. She loudly whispered to the others “don’t look! Don’t look!”, but by then the next scene had come and the penis was but a funny memory.

John C. Riley was in it. Dylzno has a theory that all movies John C. Riley is in are good. (Ditto for Edward Norton.) I’d go for a lower hit rate, but this was one was good. This, along with “Chicago” and “The Hours” rounds out his lousy-husband trilogy. In this one he was a goofy, pot-smoking husband.

I should also mention Jake Gyllenhaal. I was totally in love with him after seeing “Donny Darko”, but I’m out of love with him after “The Good Girl”. His character is excellent. He’s what a cinematic troubled, rebellious loner teen would be like in real life. i.e. a pretentious dickhead. He’s endlessly cute on the outside, but once Jennifer Aniston’s character (and the audience) get to know him, the crazy, mixed-up ugliness is becomes apparent. And we welcome the real world, where the heroine picks the pot-smoking husband over the cute badboy.

Oh, I just gave away the ending. Or did I?

Because a film isn’t about plot, it’s about how the plot is executed.

Oh yes, on the bus there’s now a magazine for people to read on the bus. It is called “Ticket”. I felt alienated soon after I opened it and read the the magazine was “to read as you get yourself to work”. Not school, not the shops, not uni, not the movies, not a sports even, no, just work. “Ticket” is really boring. It’s filled with boring articles on boring subjects. Boring reviews of things that describe it, but barely express an opinion on it. An unfunny humour column (but isn’t describing something as being funny almost a guarantee that it won’t be?), and that old, old trick of having an article about a subject that is later advertised in the magazine. The editorial urges readers to “stop staring out the window” and read the magazine, but quite frankly, looking out the window is way more interesting than reading boring articles.

Yeah, because if you want something to read on the bus, it’s ok for it to be light and disposable, but make it interesting. I mean, you wouldn’t want to fall asleep and miss your stop.

Pash

I’m vaguely considering doing Round The Bays this year. I did it in ’00 and ’01, but I forgot last year.

It was fun the first time, but the second time I got really sick of seeing all the stupid company t-shirts printed up for the occasion. Fictitious example “J J Bowman Printing (1987) Ltd says “Go for it team!” Round the Bays 2003. Printing excellence”.

I’m thinking that it might be better to just pick a nice afternoon and walk there. I walked to Mission Bay once, but I got the bus back because it was getting late.

Speaking of public transport, here’s another Big Day Out story:

I decided to get the train to BDO because I live within walking distance of the Mt Eden train station. I’d never used Auckland’s passenger train system before. I arrived at Mt Eden train station and was faced with a bleak, urban landscape. No, really.

Half the platform had been covered in asphalt, the rest was in rubblely concrete. There was a sign that I assume had once had “MOUNT EDEN” painted on it, but had since been painted completely black. There was one shelter with a decent amount of seats, but it looked like it had been graffitied and set on fire, painted, and repainted many time. I saw about five different colours of flaked paint on the seat. The bleakness was briefly broken by some interesting graffiti on the walls of the neighbouring buildings.

Me and my fellow passengers waited, and soon a train came along. It was really full, but I managed to find a carriage. I noticed that some stations had signs, others didn’t. Eventually the train arrived at the bleak, desolate Penrose station.

Is it too much to expect a train system like the ones in Sydney and Melbourne? Is it an extravagant luxury to have timetables, a few signs showing the station names, non-vandalised shelters and stations that feel safe and inviting?

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.

Wuv

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.

Worse

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.

Directions

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.