Sunday, December 31, 2006

So I was at Summer Hill station earlier today, waiting for a train to the City, when a woman in blue jeans & dark glasses came up to me & said: You look like a distinguished sort of fellow, can you tell me how to get to Chelmsford Street, Newtown? I did, & said, & she sat down & we fell to talking. Pulled out a pack of Winfield Blue so we shared a smoke as well. She was going to see a friend in Newtown & tomorrow was off for 40 days in Thailand. Never been out of the country before, though she'd been all over it. Had a ticket to Bangkok & one night's booking in a hotel, would wing it from there. Up north, she said, to try to recover a sense of what life is. Really about. Kind of raw, a straight shooter, wild, funny, sad, not without optimism ... from Wagga. Later we found out we're both cab drivers! That was peculiar. Swapping modus operandi as the train shuffled from Lewisham to Petersham to Stanmore ... in Wagga, you record every fare on the meter & print out the total at the end of the shift. The driver gets 41% of said total, the owner/operator, 59%. You get a lot of redbacks, she said. In two and a half years she thought she'd probably thrown about a dozen people out of her cab. Something I've never done in Sydney. And, if my boss took sixty percent of what I took I'd hardly make anything. We're under the bootheel down in Wagga, she said. It was one of those conversations that could have gone on for a long time, we were that easy with each other ... This is your stop, I said, in the brief night of the overbridge. We'd both taken off our dark glasses by then, we'd introduced ourselves to each other: Kathy Hartweg (sp?), German she said. We shook hands as she left. From the lower level, I saw her give a small, poignant wave as she walked past on the platform, even though our eyes couldn't meet again. She to Chiang Mai, perhaps, I to see the Paddy Bedford show at the MCA: