Today I arrived at work soaking wet. Well okay, not soaking, but certainly, undeniably wet. "Was it raining?", I can hear the Sydneysiders snidely asking, "’cos it always rains in Melbourne". No, actually it’s hardly rained a drop all week.
It’s the sprinklers in Fawkner Park. I walk across the park to work, and once again, whichever brilliant set of contractors Melbourne City Council is using this week have managed to achieve the amazing engineering feat of positioning the sprinklers so they, in the most thorough way possible, soak the footpath completely.
And it’s not any old footpath. It’s the one along the western side of the park, which means the only detour is to go many metres east around the range of the sprinkler. So naturally people try calculate when the sprinkler cycle will give them a dry path through. It’s like playing Mario Brothers!
Actually, maybe my whole commute could be turned into a video game. It would be a dash of realism amongst all the Street Fighter/Mortal Kombat/Kill The Baddies And Rescue The Girl With Big Boobs video games.
Stage 1: Try to leave the house on time. If you run into the neighbours, don’t talk for too long, but long enough to stay on good terms. Minus 100 points for each second too long that you speak. Minus 1000 points for each neighbour you offend.
Stage 2: Walk to the station, avoiding that unintentionally homicidal Volvo driver who never indicates when you cross the street. If you’re hit, Game Over.
Stage 3: If the railway crossing bells are going and your train is imminent, decide whether or not to save yourself a ten minute wait for the next one or risk crossing, knowing full well you might get hit by a train (definitely Game Over) or booked by that sneaky cop who is sometimes waiting up on the station ramp selfishly trying to discourage people from killing themselves (Minus 5000 points).
Stage 4: Brainwork required… is it cheapest to buy a daily, weekly or monthly ticket, if you use it five days a week and maybe on the weekend but you’re going away next week but then if you buy monthly you have to queue less often but what’s the risk of losing it? Bonus 20 points per dollar per month you save.
Stage 5: Plan ahead and get into the train carriage that will be adjacent to the exit at your destination. (My stations’ entrance and exits are at opposite ends meaning an extra 150ish metres’ walk each trip; someone once suggested to me that this was good grounds to move house!)
Stage 6: Find the optimum seat on the train.
- Six to four seats to yourself = 10000 points (fat chance during peak hour)
- Three or two seats = 5000 points (ditto)
- One seat but sitting next to only one person = 1000 points
- Seat but surrounded = 200 points
- Seat but next to one or more smelly people = minus 100 points
- Standing in the doorway = 100 points
- Standing elsewhere but something to hang onto = 50 points
- Standing but nothing to hang onto = 20 points. (Tip: if you’re tall enough you can always grip the ceiling. And if you manage to balance without holding onto anything, an extra 3000 points.)
Stage 7: 2000 bonus points if it’s an express. Minus 2000 points if it’s an express that doesn’t stop at your station.
Stage 8: Walk past the shops from the station, trying to resist the temptation to buy anything. Minus 20 points per dollar you spend.
Stage 9: Dodge the sprinklers in the park. Minus 100 points per time you get wet. If you get brave and take a shortcut away from the paths, minus 50 points each time you step in a wet patch of grass.
Stage 10: Walk into the office, ensuring you greet everybody you like (1000 points per person), but not anybody you find intimidating and aloof (minus 200 points).