The Commute

I love going to work.  Arriving at work is another thing entirely, but the morning journey from home to office leaves me refreshed, inspired and ready to skip merrily through my day.

I get the 870 bus at 7am. This is the same bus the National Moron Convention gets, so I’m quite familiar now with their commuting habits. For example, there are the 24 people who squash into the tiny area between the front door and the driver while the rest of the aisle is empty.  Why?   Is it nostalgia for the mosh pit at the last Metallica gig?  Do they know something I don’t about the weird guy in the middle of the bus?  If so, should I join them?  And which weird guy?

Someone else will get on and try 17 times to swipe her bus card before realizing she doesn’t have one, and is swiping her Medicare card.  She then searches through the vast hidden dimensions of her handbag for change to buy a ticket. During this search she comes across stuff last seen in the Bermuda Triangle in 1947. She finally buys a ticket, and as soon as the bus starts moving she rings the bell to get off. Do you know why?  Can’t think of a reason? Ok, let’s have a quiz: Rearrange the following phrase to find out why someone would take 10 minutes to buy a ticket only to get off at the next stop:  ‘IS VERY SHE STUPID’

Then of course we have the man who stands with his nose pressed into the back of my neck even when we’re the only two people standing.   Even when I’m sitting down.  Even when we’re the only two people on the bus.  I hate and fear that man.

The journey to the bus station takes 45 years, and by the time we arrive I am a man transformed. I head for the exit, screaming Out of my way you slug-like vermin at the crowd around me.  I emerge thankfully into the excitement and hustle bustle of Perth City.  God it’s good to be back here again!  Good morning fellow workers!  Good morning semi-conscious sherry aficionado!  Good morning homeless traditional owner!  Good morning tourist asking directions to the famous Hay Street Mall!   You are already in the famous Hay Street Mall!   No, really.  At midday that clock over there chimes and little men on horses come out.   It’s fantastic.  You’d like to know where the nearest cool nightlife area is?   Melbourne.  I enter Perth Train Station and board my train.

Attention passengers: The next train to Armadale leaves in 8 minutes.  If you are travelling to Armadale, you should ask yourself why and reconsider.

Luckily I’m only going as far as Cannington.  The train crowd is subtly different from the bus crowd.  It’s more like a combined meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Suicidal Maniacs League.  Everyone looks either badly hung-over or as though they’re about to force the door and jump under an oncoming train.

People who look like members of both groups usually work at the Office of Shared Services, otherwise known as the OSS.   Someone had the brilliant idea of taking all the most tedious bureaucratic jobs in the state government and putting them together in one place.  The result is public service hell, and to work there is to know torment.  This torment is usually passed on to customers.

The OSS is large, square and unwelcoming, and set away from other buildings.  It has all the comforting atmosphere of Alcatraz, or an Institution for the Criminally Inane.  I once emailed them to find out why an account hadn’t been paid yet.  Was my paperwork wrong or somehow incomplete?  Apparently, the answer is contained in clues embedded in certain paintings at the Louvre.  I would have known this had I read the instructions printed in invisible ink on page 26 of my purchase order form.  I emailed them back using the ‘Standard OSS Response Template’ issued by my department, which simply says “A pox be on you and your entire family for seven generations”   Staff there can actually claim workers compensation for a condition known as “Thrice Cursed

The next station stop is Cannington.  Change at Cannington for the sake of your children.

The journey to Cannington Station takes 73 years. When we arrive I file off the train with the poor souls heading for the OSS, feeling uncomfortably like Dante.  I run past their building with my hands over my ears, trying to block out the shrieking and diabolical laughter.   Only one more obstacle now stands between me and my workplace, and that obstacle is the Albany Highway.  The traffic never stops on the Albany Highway.  Who is running the City while the entire population drives up and down this road all day?  Where in hell are they all going? I wait for the lights to change and cross the Styx.

My office at last!  Dance of joy!  (Yes, it is possible to dance sarcastically)  Today is Tuesday, which means I will spend the morning plotting revenge against the whole of Mankind.  That will free up the afternoon for plotting revenge against specific individuals.  But first, I need to get the right ambience in my workspace.  Being a bit excited still from my journey, as you can imagine, I need a little distance for a while.  A little breathing space if you will.  Some Me time.  A carefully phrased email is called for: 

Dear colleagues, I will be in a terrible mood forever, so approach me with extreme caution.  If you really must speak to me, smile and be civil.   If you really must speak ill of me to others, let’s just say I don’t care if I live or die… 

There, that should do it.