The Wrong Tram + The Girly Surge

‘We got on the WRONG tram’ the woman opposite me whispered to her husband.

I’d plonked myself down opposite them about fifteen minutes beforehand, flushed from a particularly nice lunch (with Etsy), settling in for the trip to the end of the tram line.

This couple were neat, in their 50s. They seemed pretty content. They leaned in and chatted to each other as I made some calls, making the most of the ride home.

This pleasant mood shifted only when the tram stopped near a high school and a bunch of chattering, laughing girls surged into the empty seats and aisle.

‘We got on the WRONG tram’ the woman opposite me whispered, rolling her eyes.

Aw man.

Granted the chattering and laughing was a change of pace from the previously whirring, humming, murmuring vibe. Definitely the bump of school bags, the cracking of gum, the more… condensed feeling was an adjustment. But the wrong tram is a little harsh.

Next to us, two girls were discussing Russia, Syria and gender issues. One of them had a complete mop of curly hair and glasses. She was totally unselfconscious, pulling her laptop out of her bag, unwittingly flashing her undies and reading a debate speech aloud to her friend with passion and delight.

As the tram wound its way through the suburban streets they giggled together and discussed what ‘polysexual’ could possibly mean (‘It can’t mean you are attracted to five genders because there aren’t five genders!’) and supported Caitlin Jenner’s possible transition back to Bruce (but were worried that it would damage the progress of gender equality/awareness).

The ‘wrong tram’ couple had long since pushed their way past the uniforms and alighted into the hot afternoon.

It’s a shame, because they could have found out a LOT of stuff from the girly surge…

. How not to care about flashing you knickers because global politics are more important
. The various umbrellas human sexuality can come under – and some that defy umbrellas
. That you can care about reality TV stars and maintain your ethics/social conscience.
. That sometimes the wrong tram is the right tram to be on.

Cool, right?

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  1. I love your observations Pip, and that they are so positive. Having twin 15 year old girls I’m often engulfed in the Girly Surge too – love the term!

  2. Tram, train, bus….public transport is the best place for overheard conversations and brief but meaningful connections. This post reminded me of overhearing something sort of similar with some high school kids the other day on the train into uni (I wish I could remember more specifically than that, drat). Occasionally you get stuck behind or in front of a convo you want to shut your ears to because they don’t realise what they’re saying…but that so rare really.
    The brief but meaningful connections thing is so powerful. I’ve witnesses several times when a young toddler would get on a bus with the parent – and suddenly, the group of strangers surrounding their seat (including me) become that little more alive. Double that if it’s a crowded peak-hour train where the baby & parents need a seat. Questions are asked, seats offered and connections made. 🙂 I love public transport for this.

  3. Pip
    I live five houses away from the largest (& roughest) high school on the main highway in my town – and at 3:10pm there are hoards of kids on mopeds, skateboards, bikes and their two feet – laughing, yelling, singing and generally being loud.

    It is a daily reminder of what it felt like to be genuinely free of life’s worries and more importantly . . . . how to just enjoy being in the moment.

    Although I finished teaching a decade ago, I am still vividly aware of how much all adults can learn from teenagers. Kids really ARE cool!

  4. This sounds like my tram. I love the chats the girls have. How unsuspecting travellers trip on their enormous bags and how you can’t tear your eyes or ears away from them. Then the boys get on further along the track and the mood changes completely. There are lots of sideway glances and hair flicking from both sides. Takes me back.

  5. Very cool! I love this post and your observations!

  6. It’s always a good reminder of your own youthful self listening to teen conversations. In reality not that much has changed its just some people choose to forget they were once young ??Great Post Pip!

  7. Love this! I’m over 50 and love listening to schoolchildren chatter. It makes me nostalgic because we were always passionate about everything at that age, weren’t we? And I like to look at them and think, these are our future politicians, doctors, tradies and they will all contribute to our future world!

  8. Oh, if they’d been in NSW, they’d have got on the ‘quiet carriage’ and not been bothered by it all. I deliberately avoid the quiet carriage. They’re ‘wrong tram’ kinda people. I like the eavesdropping.

  9. Love it – the ordinary yet extraordinary glimpses into the lives of others!

  10. I love sitting up the back of the bus with the school kids. And listening in on their conversations in my neighborhood, one of the girls has a baby that she drops off to daycare on her way to school and I love watching all of them love this little guy and the conversations they have. Some of them were refugees so I feel really privileged to have an insight into their world. Oh and as something we all should know, my son told me (he went to this school) you never ask a refuge about their parents, you have to wait until they trust ypu enough to share information about their family with you. I hope you always catch the wrong tram Pip.

  11. I am a bloke in my 50’s and your post Pip is a wonderful reminder of the passion and excitement of youth. Its enjoyable and also fills me with hope for a future that might actually be a better one than what we have had as adults.

    Young people care about their world about equality and about having a good and productive life, that is the nature of youth. As I watch my children grow, (they are 20, 17 and 15) I see a generation that through the power of the internet and technology actually really being able to act on their passions and ideals and truly make our world a better place.

    Lets encourage them help them and ensure that we facilitate their journey so that they don’t become burnt out or embittered or worse still succumb to the radicalisation and fanatasism of some of their peers. Let us help them achieve so that they don’t end up committing acts of violence like we saw in Sydney because people stifle them and allow them to turn to radicals falsely offering them hope for a future that is in reality a mirage.

    Your post encourages them to embrace their youth in positive ways.

    Good on your joining in on one small journey and sharing it with us.

    Thank you.

  12. Oh these are my favourite tram rides though i do trains more ,all squished and chatter between peeps , I feel sad for all those individuals plugged in and separated etc, like its a chance to be in something together, secretly learn something …like an insight

  13. This is GREAT. I don’t remember discussing stuff anywhere near that smart/insightful on the tram rides home from school. I feel like if you were on a tram with teenage me listening to my ultimate fan-casting of the Twilight movie you would’ve been hot on the heels of that older couple 😀

  14. Very cool! So interesting to hear what’s hot and talkable in today’s generation. Love it!

  15. I love your observations & positive outlook! I sometimes hear gems from the back seat of our car.

  16. How sad for them, I wrote a piece on our blog about how my Mum stayed young by always being around young people. As you say, they missed a golden opportunity just through being judgemental.

  17. Spot on , people who feel this way about our youth ,forget where they come from.

  18. Ooh I love this! Public transport observations are the best! what smart girls these were – and what a shame Wrong Tram Couple missed seeing them.

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