Stand clear please

On Tuesday, I was working at home. My workmate Stanley needed to get some CDs off me. So I gave him instructions for getting to my local station, and said I’d meet him there. Good plan? Nothing simpler, right?

Stanley had never been on a train before. Never. Trams yes, but not trains. Oh what a sheltered life he must lead. He seemed worried about it, but I told him which train to catch, and which stop to get off at. He called to say he was on his way, and I went down to meet him.

The train came. The train left. No Stanley.

Where could he be? Had he caught the wrong train? I rang his mobile. Switched off. I rang another colleague, thinking she’d know if he’d really left the office. Stanley answered it. It didn’t quite register with me just then, but he was carrying her phone. Later I’d found out he had left his at home that day. Of course.

He’d missed the stop. Not because he wasn’t paying attention to the station names, you understand. But because the doors didn’t open for him.

For those of you from elsewhere on the planet, it should be made clear that Melbourne train doors do not open by themselves. There’s a sticker telling you to open them by hand when the tone sounds to indicate you can. There’s a handily placed handle to grasp when opening the door. It all works rather well for most people.

This will be the desktop wallpaper on Stanley’s desk tomorrow morning. (Umm.. but a tad bigger.)

Stanley had been gazing at the map intently, not paying much attention to anything else, such as the sticker or the myriad of people getting on and off the train – and presumably happily opening the doors for themselves – at previous stops. When the train got to his stop, he apparently presumed that since the doors didn’t open, he couldn’t get off. He rode to the next stop, and snuck out a door which somebody else opened ahead of him.


And this man is a highly paid computer professional in his mid-30s.

When I found out what happened, rather than risk him getting on another train, I went back home, got my car and drove down to the next station to meet him. I gave him the CDs and steered him onto another train back to the city, and verified later that he had made it back okay.

So, the conclusion? I’ve done the only sensible thing. On my way out tonight to give blood I did some gunzelling with my camera, and grabbed me a shot of one of those door stickers, with the appropriate bit of text highlighted. I will place it on Stanley’s computer desktop wallpaper tomorrow morning. Never let it be said that I won’t work hard for a piss-take.

If I don’t make it home alive tomorrow night, you’ll know he didn’t think it was all that funny.

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.