Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The dangers of unfavourable work (or The trains are crap in warm weather.)

To live in such a wonderful city as Melbourne you have to be able to understand a little about the climate. Or more to the point it’s unpredictable nature. In this city I call the centre its rainfall seems to be about as predictable as the roll of the dice at a craps table, invariably it won’t be to your liking. And the more you live in Melbourne the more you love the fact that it can be 4 seasons in one day, or at least get to be used to carrying a jacket and umbrella in 42° Celsius heat just in case it’s going to change to be a thunderstorm.

To weather the storm we try to rely on our local weathercasters who have the respectability of a car salesman, the insurance premiums of Evil Knievel and the public respect of a parking inspector. Needless to say they have short careers before moving on to things like Teleprompter readers (possibly known as News reporters.) after they make too many bad predictions. Said predictions are actually based more on the feelings they have, the abusive letters they receive from yesterday and rolling dice in the office. And at one point or another they are often names as being most hated public professional in Melbourne.

To put it mildly, I don’t envy their job at all.

But, they are being overtaken by at least one group who want to be vilified as the most hated in Melbourne and that is ticket inspectors.

On days such as this scorching hot 37° Celsius day the current Melbourne train company is spitting out spin doctors words like it’s having a fit, declaring that should anything happen today to cancel a few trains that they have no responsibility and it has no bearing on the fact that the system is barely capable for the crush of people at the best of times.

And then, to make their presence even better they have a public outing of the grey trench coated inspectors at each station ensuring that you pay your dollars to them so they can pack you into a sardine tin to bake in the body odour of others while the platitudes of a computer voiced speaker tells you that you still have an hour on this lunchbox ride of hell. If only the inspectors seemed a little more helpful.

I know that we, as a community tend to deride our infrastructure systems for its failings and look for the devil in the system but do they have to treat every person as though they were about to commit acts of terrorism by buying a two hourly ticket instead of a daily ticket, they might have a little better public image. Regardless of whether the punk in the jeans that are sitting on his ankles has his concession card on him or not, if you slam him up against a wall, he’ll still get his Toorak based parents to sue you the very next day. So maybe we should look at a better alternative, maybe teaching the inspectors some courtesy, and occasionally letting people off with a warning.

There is a way for them to get a little better public image and I’ll elaborate, so read on to the end to understand. If a commuter happens to miss out on buying a zone 1 and 2 ticket they then recieve a $100 dollar fine for a difference of about $1.50. If that is truly the penalty for that much error in expenditure, the brand new ticketing system (because that will, of course, help the trains mechanically work better, less packed and on time) that was meant to cost $500 million dollars but is now at $1.5 billion dollars(a difference of a scant billion dollars) I expect a ticket inspector at the door with a good sized $60 billion dollar transit fine soon enough, maybe even in novelty sized for the photo opportunity. We all love to see a useless company get a bit of a fine for stupidity occasionally.

Now I have to run so please excuse me while I get the deodorant.

I’m going to do my bit to alleviate the other passengers inside my sardine can.

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