Sunday, 22 February 2009

Are trains electric?

It was curious but I found myself to be nervous. At first I was unsure as to why I was covered in a light sheen of sweat, had a heightened awareness of sound and a general inability to finish my piece of banana bread but it soon became clear that I was nervous.

I harbor no real desire to become a train driver, my motivation for undertaking this lengthy and trying process is more complex and unreasonable than the jurisprudence of equity, and I think you might find that equity has more to do with reasons for taking train driver tests than you first thought.

I was surprised, though I shouldn't have been, to find myself standing in a crowd of men dressed in their smart casual best. Their hideous hair was tied back, gelled down or spike upwards. They all wore pale button up shirts,ill fitting trousers and awful shoes. Somebody else had ironed their shirts. There were about 170 of us, we were herded, inspected, marked off on lists. I was not uncomfortable, not once the pencils came out and we were sat down at desks.

Train driver exams are tremendously enjoyable. It must be a hangover from law school but sitting silently amongst row upon row of people concentrating furiously felt like home. This disturbs me greatly.

The first exam was a knockout round, anybody failing to meet the required and undisclosed score was asked to leave. At first I was pleased to pass test after test but then I heard some of the men talking amongst themselves near a lift shaft. These men have not taken exams, unless it was part of learning a trade. They do not read for pleasure, do puzzles in newspapers or think in unfurling abstract strands. I thought I could be one of them, trying my best with the provided pencils, but something more than a lack of penis in my underpants separated me from the herd and I felt nothing but shame.

Recently I have begun to think that university was a waste of my time. I feel nothing but a sense of awkward regret when I look over those five difficult years. My new and thankfully temporary boss said that I was wasted in my present position, that I would be much better off somewhere else though she still begged to keep me. I am tired of trying to find interesting, challenging and meaningful work. I am exhausted from towing around all this knowledge, the heavy memories of contorting myself to accommodate everything academic. I knew what I wanted to say when I was the shower but it has now become unclear, this is a product of my exhaustion.

I am shedding people faster than dead skin cells, Superman wasn't the first and he certainly wasn't the last. I am exhausted by the mantle of my learning, I am exhausted by people who do not think and require me to do all the thinking. I am exhausted by people who think they are thinking but they are not, they are not even close to the idea of reason. I am tired of people who live in the suburbs and pour judgement across my way of life. I want to sit here, in this city, and type. I am confused about meanings, motivations and just why I dedicated myself to so much learning with no beneficial outcomes.

I want to cry out the maxims of equity, hold up my clean hands and beg for restitution. I want to unlearn all this learning and find myself suddenly just another face in a crowd. I want to gel down hideous hair and laugh with the others at the idea of thinking. I want to wear uniforms kindly provided and view my roster no more than two weeks in advance. I want to tell people at parties I'm just a train driver, I know nothing of anything but signals and patience and the popular easy to read novel tucked into my ugly bag.

Last night I dreamt I was flesh made into a totem pole. I stood three metres high in the middle of a park, sturdy, cylindrical and ancient. I was not carved but constructed, my sides panelled with cassette decks. Every time I thought of anything at all the cassette doors flew open and the force of my will ejected tapes like rockets all around me. All night I ejected tapes faster than the speed of light, across the park and into the stratosphere. I still feel like this, ejecting and rejecting with frightening speed and precision. I don't know what I'm doing but it feels necessary. I might wake up tomorrow and laugh at my train driving exam adventure or I might wake up, call in sick and spend the day writing lists of things I do not like. The future is unclear.

32 comments:

Lisa said...

Don't you think this is a little belittling to train drivers and the others taking the exams?
I know a train guard who would love to be a driver, he knows more about trains, train lines, time tables, from present time going back to the beginning of trains, than I could ever get my head around.
I'm sorry but this just makes you sound like you are looking down on others just because they don't place value on the same things you do

Dale Slamma said...

No.

nailpolishblues said...

I often wonder why I bothered with university. I am always either too educated or not educated enough. I fall awkwardly in workplace cracks.

The whole post resonated, in fact.

Gempires said...

Dale is not looking down on train drivers, she is contemplating her feeling of oddness in a bizarre situation that does not fit the path she has carved for herself so far. If Dale were a character in a work of fiction, would you condemn her for having a point of view?

I enjoyed this post.

Jon said...

Gemma, Dale wasn't being condemned for her point of view, or for contemplating her feelings of oddness in a bizarre situation. It is the tone of elitism over the other applicants that was criticised, as it did come across as that and it detracted heavily from what I assume she was trying to say. I can appreciate that feeling of oddness, but don't express it at the expense of others by making disparaging remarks.
Of course, Dale is "Captain of her Blog" and as such can write whatever she wants, even if others may take offense to it.

Dale Slamma said...

Let me get this straight. You are offended by your perception of my elitism towards train drivers?

Anonymous said...

Roger might be reading this

Anonymous said...

Roger is laughing. He'll document that in his blog.

Anonymous said...

Be a train driver. The trilogy will then be complete.

Jon said...

No, you are not getting anything straight. I did not say that.

Gempires said...

"It is the tone of elitism over the other applicants that was criticised, as it did come across as that and it detracted heavily from what I assume she was trying to say."

It didn't to me. Maybe you're just reading something into it that's not there. Are you a failed train driver?

Gempires said...

Perhaps Roger is Mister Upmost. Oh no, perhaps I have now offended Roger.

Jon. said...

Maybe Gemma is oblivious to something that is there. Ignorance is bliss though...

Dale Slamma said...

Hey! If you're angry at me and you do seem to be, that is fine, pick fights, whatever, be offended on behalf of train drivers but I can assure that Gemma has no problems with her comprehension and I am surprised that you would suggest such a thing.

Jon said...

So it's okay for Gemma to sarcastically ask if I am a failed train driver, but it is not okay for me to suggest that she may have not noticed something that Lisa and I had?

Dale Slamma said...

In my experience Gemma often asks questions because she wants to know what the answer is.

Jon said...

Good for her.

Anonymous said...

Roger is laughing again.

Gempires said...

Uh oh, looks like an opinion was expressed somewhere here. Call the censorship police!

I agree - I did not notice the thing that Lisa and you noticed. That is my point exactly - that it therefore may not be there. You know Dale as well as I do, at least I thought you did, so I would have thought you'd be able to see that her observational style is from her own perspective, and not intended as elitism or snobbery. Dale is the opposite of snob.

And now let's see what you pick on next! Dale, perhaps you should contemplate how garbage men might smell by the end of the day and how you are glad that you do not smell like garbage. Controversy! Elitism! Maybe you could ponder how long it might take for the Unibra to be invented for women who've had mastectomies - just be sure to sandbag yourself against the impending outcry from breast cancer patients, feminists, lovers of breasts and Mary Magdalene. Oh, but never mention thongs at all - that may offend people who are missing one big toe, and that is just out of line, full stop.

Anonymous said...

Vale Superman. Vale Lisa. Vale Art Boy

Jon said...

By the way, I can assure that I have no problems with my comprehension either. It's a differing comprehension, and supposedly the beauty of written text (and what I assume is part of why you love reading) is that it is open to interpretation.

Anonymous said...

Roger says Jon will be the next to go.

The elite said...

How is 'I want to gel down hideous hair and laugh with the others at the idea of thinking.' not elitist?

ADMIT IT! YOU ARE ONE OF ME! BWAHAHAHA!

Anonymous said...

Roger loves the exchange.

Jon will be sentenced by the single bodied, larger than life justice system. A system I'm which you will not speak nor appeal.

Roger that.

Roger will now cross to his blog.

Anonymous said...

Roger has crossed back to Dale's blog.

There is a wealth of joy in reading archives entries.

Anonymous said...

Roger has been busy on his blog.

Anonymous said...

When is Roger getting an inclusion Dale? You're in his blog

Anonymous said...

Who is Roger anyway?

Anonymous said...

Roger

The elite said...

Roger should link to Roger's blog. Then Roger too can be a Z-grade celebrity. We may deign to observe.

Oh hang on! Would Roger's link even make it through the censorship panel?

And so we wait.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations everyone, we've made it to comment 30

Anonymous said...

My blog is still a work in progress. There is a launch date althought it won't be soon. There's a lot of work to be done.

Roger