I couldn’t work out whether it was just me so I ran it by a couple close friends and family. The responses were surprising so let’s put it out there for comment. Are Perth people spoilt?
There are a couple of reasons why I have been forming this opinion lately and I must admit that my experiences while involved in both the personal and public transport sectors is perhaps skewing my own particular view towards the positive.
Firstly I am going to talk about the trains.
The trains are a real issue for me and there is one particular vein into the city that completely infuriates me. I used to get the train into Perth one of two ways.
Option one. Go down to Bullcreek station located on the Mitchell Freeway line which is about a ten minute drive from my house and catch the four stop transit into Leederville.
Or there is option 2, the main route that I take now. It’s a five minute drive to Thornlie station and then 14 stops and one changeover to Leederville.
In simple terms, although the drive to Bullcreek is five minutes longer, the train ride is considerably shorter, enough to at least be considered, right? No way, over my dead body. I simply refuse to put myself through what I consider to be a writhing mass of frustration and angst. It changes me.
That’s because the people who planned Perth’s infrastructure came from an advanced college of MORONS! They create a railway to reduce congestion on the freeway and then give 500 people 3 carriages to fit into during peak travel times, yes I know the issue. But we are not working together people!
I wish I had a dollar for all the times I’ve contorted my body to squelch into the last space between the train door and oblivion. Unceremoniously grasping for any purchase, be it shirt, pole or roof, fearing for my life and all the time thinking I’m one technical hitch away from painting the train tracks red. Meanwhile “Irene I-pad” and “Captain Coolface” bask around up in the aisle with club lengths of room on either side of them. I mean come on, this is not a rare occurrence, it’s a guaranteed one. I’m walking a tightrope here space cadets move up and create some room!
So why do “Irene I-pad” and “Captain Coolface” seem oblivious to the carnage near the door area? Well you can see it on their innocent faces, they simply aren’t paying attention. They are not aware that if they shuffle up and get a bit closer to the next person that it will create that little bit of extra space for everyone else. They’ve never really had to deal with the situation before and simply don’t know what to do.
After too many mornings of this I took to acts totally out of character. I’d either be shouting out on the train a patronising “hey can everyone move please move down?!”
Or I would simply just make a point (and a scene while I was at it), squeezing, shifting, shoving and bumping with an exaggerated “excuse mate, sorry sir, sorry, thanks, ‘scuse me, sorry pal, sorry can I please get through mam? Cheers, oops sorry ‘bout that, ‘scuse me, thanks”, as I took myself to the furthest gap away from the entrance that could be filled. Needless to say just about everyone was disgruntled, but I wonder if they got the message?
I couldn’t control myself. Each day I was getting worse. Now that I was aware of it. I was on the lookout for it. I realised that my temper was getting the better of me. A good beating by a fellow traveler was surely only around the corner. So I decided I would no longer catch the freeway train line.
I now take the Thornlie train. It never gets too packed and I hardly ever want for a seat. It seems that the poorer area is getting a better public transport service at the moment, who would have thought?
But I still have to get off the train in the city underground. Anyone else notice the following?
Firstly. When people are moving from the train to the escalators, we have some people who go to the back of the line. Is this not the decent thing to do? Yes but then there are the others. The lack wits and I-specialists that jam into the line from the sides! Try doing that at a festival in the beer line and see what happens!
We are like sheep without the sheepdog, people moving in all different directions. Why don’t we all just walk to the back of the line and wait our turn?
I admit it, I do it myself. When I shamefully realise I’m doing the very thing that makes my ears fume when done by others, I ask myself the reason why.
Firstly I notice that I have gotten off the train and I’m close to the beginning of the escalator, so why would I walk all the way to the back of the line? Secondly I get defensive realising my selfishness and think, well everyone else is doing it so why can’t I?
What about the people waiting to get on while others are getting off? Most people wait patiently but almost always at least one or two break rank every time and try to get on against the flow of traffic. The other day I saw it happening and I held an aggressive line on exit, taking out 2 of the intruders. Then a day later I lectured a middle aged man saying “just wait one more second mate”, using a tone more commonly used on my two year old daughter Nikita.
At this point you’re probably thinking, the issue isn’t that Perth people are spoilt, it’s you. You’re just an angry man losing it and struggling to cope with life in a growing city.
But that’s the point. I’m not an angry man. It’s not my personality to be mean or always spoiling for a fight. But something happens to me out there when I notice these things going on.
Ok let’s forget the trains and talk about the roads.
There are a few easily discernible personalities that you will encounter on the roads and all of them are in full force every day.
There are the rev head clowns in the fast cars. You know the generic 6-8 cylinder Fords and Holdens driven by the people who forgot that the maximum speed limit in Australia is 110 km per hour? They are the main ones who are always up your rear when you are overtaking in the right lane. The regulation 100km per hour you’re doing is still not quick enough for them, even though you have every intention to shift over once there is room on the left again. Newsflash!, just because you have a fast car doesn’t give you the right to speed or bully others on the road.
But it’s not just the fast car drivers that do this, there seems to be an unspoken rule in Perth that says, the right lane is the speeding lane. If you’re not speeding you shouldn’t be overtaking.
There are the day dreamers, the ones who are thinking about everything except the fact that they are not the only one on the road. They casually cruise off a green light at one kilometer per hour while everyone is behind them wondering if they are going to get through.
There are the “P” platers, unpredictable, unbearable and apparently, unbreakable. (We’ve all been there as a youth).
The slow walking, road crossing pedestrian, who is almost daring you to run them over with their smugness.
The speeding up driver, who wants to teach the slow walker a lesson and give them a good scare.
The 70 percent of pedestrians who don’t so much as acknowledge you as you let them through the cross walk.
The traffic weaver. Obviously far too superior to be sharing the road with the rest of us, so zipping in and out of lanes like they are Mark Webber on crack.
And then there’s me, the biggest type of fool going around.
If I’m on time and you’re up my rear in the right lane, then I’m slowing right down gesturing in the mirror with a horizontal hand moving up and down telling you to take it easy. Then when I finally let you through I’m taunting you with sarcastic applause. If I’m late, feel the heat on your back bumper ‘cos I’m on it. If you take half a second too long at a set of lights, my horn blares for the next eight seconds drowning out my copious expletives. Next minute I’m mucking around with my iPod and look up to realise, abashed, that I’ve made everyone behind me miss a turning arrow. I nearly run you over at the cross walk because I’m day dreaming but as I screech to a halt last minute and you don’t say thanks, then watch for my middle finger. And god forbid if I get caught in a speed camera…then the next 30 minutes I’m thinking only of a baseball bat, the dude in the white Ute watching the camera, and the revenge exacted on his face because it’s all his fault.
So yes, I’ve realised I’m spoilt. I’ve had it too easy. My precious life in Perth’s little bubble has been too good for too long. But now Perth is becoming a much bigger city. Western Australia is booming and the population is ballooning. The empty trains, quick day time trips, and non congested carriageways are a thing off the past. The price of living is going through the roof and the poor are on their knees, every penny being sucked into the vacuum of the false average annual income figures from the mining boom and supporting sectors.
But am I an individual case, an angry man with a large chip on the shoulder? Or am I common bi-product of a life less challenged?
How will our small city mindset adapt to the big city Perth is now becoming? Will our tolerance become weaker or stronger? It will be interesting to watch and see.