9-5 Morning Train

Thursday, 16 July 2009

The man gets on the train and sits down. The girls behind the man are talking about Facebook. I keep hearing people talking on trains about Facebook. I wonder why people don't talk to each other about things out here instead of talking to each other about Facebook. The man starts talking to himself. I keep seeing people talking on trains to themselves. Last week a man said very loudly to someone who came to sit down next to him, "Don't sit here!" He then proceeded to talk to the empty seat for the rest of the ride. I wonder if the man today talks to the woman next to him if she will talk back. My guess is a reasonably large no. She has her eyes closed to escape the social inappropriateness of a man who is talking to himself.

I can't hear the man over the babble of talk in the late morning carriage. I catch fragments, words above it all. "Secondhand ... fuckin' ..." He talks all the way from Footscray to Flagstaff. The man sits with his leg crossed and his leg moving backwards and forwards. "Fuck," he says. He is wearing a beige coloured suit jacket over a pair of jeans. His brown shoes are shiny. His shiny brown foot moves backwards and forwards.

The Indian man opposite me has his arms crossed and questions coming out of his eyes. Occasionally he glares at the talking man for daring to be mentally ill. The old Asian man looks at me with this funny pushed-out fish lip look. He has questions coming out of his eyes too. Something in his expression reminds me of the way my dog looks at me when he has questions in his eyes about playing with the ball. Nobody knows what to do in the carriage. You can see it. What do we do here, we all ask silently to the carriage. I distance myself with a pen and my notepad. I try to will myself to make eye contact with the talking man but he does not look at me.

I get out at Flagstaff and the man gets out behind me. Waiting for the lift, the man in the navy Ecko United soccer shirt with the number 2 on his back looks behind himself, looks for the nutter. Turns back very quickly to face the front and wait for the lift.

In the lift the talking man is silent.

"Concourse. Doors opening," the lift voiceover man says as we arrive up at the top. "Concourse," the man says, walking out the lifts, out up to William Street.


  1. I love your writing. I felt like I was in the train experiencing this!

  2. I agree with the other Barbara that it is a well-drawn piece of writing. We all encounter people like this and it is puzzling. On the one hand, we wonder what is going on in his head. On the other hand, we pray he won't pop up and include us in his madness. I suppose we all engage in these mental conversations with self, it is just that he lacks the ability to keep it to himself. In reality, we all lack something.

  3. Sue, this is a REALLY NICE piece of prose. Really nice!

  4. Layla - thank you! It just fell off my pen and wrote itself. Very fun when that happens :)

    Barbara - thanks. I felt sorry for this man, I'm pretty sure it was schizophrenia but who knows? I really hate that feeling of not wanting him to come near me. Mainly because it makes me uncomfortable. Why does it always have to be about me? :)

  5. Beautiful Susie! I have to interject here that you've written so much over the last few days that I'm scrambling to keep up...so if you don't see my comments...I'm working on it!

    I wish I could learn to be the person who is brave enough to talk to the obviously mentally ill person...but instead I'm the person who rolls their eyes without compassion. I hate that about myself.


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