Heading home

A few weeks ago we found ourselves heading home after dinner at a friend’s place, a few hours spent stuffing ourselves with food and wine. Not too many hours though; with a small child called Isaac in tow it’s not quite so easy to paint the town completely red, so we were heading back to the station by about 9:30.

The seven minute train ride home was uneventful except for the three (count them, three) cops riding in our carriage, one of whom tried to make friends with Isaac. He gave back his best "deer caught in headlights" dazed, tired expression. Or perhaps it was his "who is this person, why is he wearing the funny clothes" expression.

For most of the time two of the cops were standing around looking like spare lemons while a third wrote out a ticket directed at some kid who had obviously been involved in a misdemeanour before we got on. Nothing too serious, since they didn’t appear to have shot him first.

What he did, we don’t know, though my assumption was that he was not very bright. I assume this because three uniformed cops getting into your carriage is probably enough warning most people stop whatever illegal activities they were doing and try to look innocent. It’s not like they’re sneaking up on you undercover, like the Met’s Gestap… oops, Revenue Protection Officers. Actually even they’re not hard to spot, they’re the only ones on the train outside peak hour wearing ties.

Perhaps the cops were there as part of The Met’s efforts to stamp out train surfing. Train surfing goes something like this:

  1. Kid or kids get on train
  2. Between stations, kid or kids climb out onto roof because they think they’re in one of those western movie chase scenes
  3. Kid attempts to spray name on roof of moving train, and/or attempts to move to another window or door to climb back in
  4. Kid either (a) over balances and hits the ground at 80Kph, (b) gets kersplatted on overpass (c) gets fried on 750 volt overhead wire or (d) gets knocked off the side by a stanchion or another train
  5. Kid either is (a) seriously injured and appears on the TV news the next day telling others not to do it, but they do anyway, or (b) dies, thus increasing the city’s average IQ.

So, where is the problem, you might ask? Natural selection at work, isn’t it? Absolutely. Just a shame it’s our taxes that end up paying for them to scrape the bodies off the tracks. And it’s probably not much fun for the train driver.

Perhaps an advertising campaign is needed, a bit like the highly successful "If you drink then drive you’re a bloody idiot" slogans we have here in Victoria. How about something like "Train surfing is a bloody stupid thing to do. But go ahead, kill yourself, we don’t care."

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.