At the Clifton Hill train station, I put $20 in the Myki machine, the slot drive slurping up the note. I wait and wait, my tension rising as I can hear the train arriving. Finally, the screen says, ‘Sorry, this machine is unable to process.’
Then…then…then….nothing happens! I can’t believe it. The machine has eaten my money! I dash over to the ticket booth that actually has a human in there.
‘You’re ticket machine is not working!’ I say as I hand over my Myki card and another $20.
‘That machine has got nothing to do with me,’ says the stern-faced blue-uniformed station master, and then credits my card with the thing that has nothing to do with him.
‘So if that’s got nothing to do with you,’ I say, feeling belligerent now. ‘Then why are you using it?’
He sighs heavily at me, handing the card back. ‘Look. I just work here.’
And gives me a look everything has nothing to do with him as if somehow he lives in some kind of universe where cause and consequence do not exist. I almost say to him ‘Then what do you do all day? Mime?’
I take the card and get on the train but in my imagination keep going, inventing conversations with ticket inspectors demanding to see my card.
‘No, no. You can’t have that,’ I say.
‘Sir, we have the authority to request to see your card.’
‘Well, excuse me! I was told by your man that this ticket system has nothing to do him and as he works for the train company that would mean, by logical deduction, that this travel card has nothing to do with public transport, ergo, this very train that I am in sitting in.’
‘Dear gentle people who seemed to be employed because of their generous body girth and clipped consonants. Let me explain. The Myki ticket system is an anathema. It swings in its own orbit, a money pit for something not connected to anything, a black hole if you will. For all I know your ticket man could’ve sold me a coupon for Gloria Jeans Coffee. We will not be taken for fools. Good day, sir!’
And that’s when the other passengers stand up and applaud and we all throw our Myki cards up in the air with joy, dancers sashay down the aisle, pouring us shots of vodka and the inspectors agree with us and swing their jackets off and yell, ‘YOU ARE SO RIGHT! TO HELL WITH THAT SHIT!’
But then it’s time to get off at Flinders and with everyone else I trudge up the escalators, marching to the same beat of resignation, as we ping our cards through the ticket scanners.
(p.s. I also thought what the ticket master would be like as a pilot. A passenger would come screaming up and say ‘Captain! The propeller just flew off!’ ‘Sorry, that’s got nothing to do with me. I’m just flying the plane.’