ONE of the great calls you never want to hear on the rail service from Sydney to Newcastle is: "Attention customers. Due to the cancellation of whatever service, this train is now all stations to Broadmeadow."
Talk about the difference between light rail and heavy heart.
One moment you're on the express.
Next, the distress.
Right up there with other announcements you never want to hear on the train from Sydney to Newcastle.
Like "Doors closing!!"
Or "Holy crap, there's another train on the line".
Suddenly your trip is more about getting somewhere "some time" as opposed to somewhere "on time".
A scenario you tried to avoid before getting on, via studious Googling of Transport NSW timetables.
A plan now off the rails.
Bring on that jaunty voice announcing "Doors closing" an extra 25 unwanted times.
Can't customers just take it for granted the door are closing?
Do we need to be told?
In the good old days, the doors just opened without fanfare.
Or you wrestled them open by putting your back into it.
And then they closed.
Usually on you.
There was a certain kind of open and shut obviousness to it.
Why now the Sale of the Century happy voice?
Not happy Jan.
And when did Transport NSW start referring to us as "customers"?
What happened to the good old "Attention prisoners", or "Listen up cattle".
Yes, sometimes the great lotteries of life don't go your way.
You don't always get the green lights on the way home from work.
Sometimes you pick a dud line at the supermarket checkout.
As Tony Abbott famously said, shit happens.
And indeed, it happened to him.
To quote another former Liberal PM, life wasn't mean to be easy,
Ex-Liberal PMs are good for a lament
Transport NSW should consider them for inbound voice-overs.
I suppose if all stations to Broadmeadow is as hard as it gets, you're probably going OK. Slow and intermittently. But OK.
There was, however, a part of me that thought we weren't going that great.
Just as we pulled out of Tascott and into Koolewong.
A journey of, I'd say, 12 metres.
If only you had Wi-Fi on this train.
Instead of Googling Transport NSW timetables to find out your new estimated time of arrival, you could Google Map Koolewong and find out if it is actually recognised as a place anywhere.
But you don't have Wi-Fi.
You just have a poster boy for annoying transistor radios up the front of the carriage tuning into the fifth at Menangle, at 500 tinnie decibels.
The train driver doesn't seem too happy about the situation either.
He just berated someone for hanging out the train.
With a distinct contrast in tone to "Doors closing".
More like: "For Christ sake, you little bastard ..."
It can get to you, if you let it.
That's why mature people look for distractions.
The rest of us took the opportunity to whinge.
Bad news brings strangers together.
Fellow passengers emerged from shared isolation to reflect on things like, We've all got places to go.
Before we die.
Like dinner, or band rehearsal, or the TAB.
After a collective pity party we then returned to shared isolation.
To drool, and mutter and tune into the sixth at Menangle.
I stared out the window and tried to think about something other than being late.
Or that guy's tinnie transistor radio.
I settled on airconditioning.
Probably not the best fixation.
Before you got on that train at Hornsby, you were dreaming about airconditioning.
It had been a 38-degree day.
That's why the 4.52 from Central had been 12 minutes late to Hornsby.
The line had melted.
Now the heatwave was a distant memory.
Now you were succumbing to hypothermia, and a desire to smash that trannie.
Better to distract yourself with thoughts of ... no, don't think about hot chips.
Damn, should have had lunch.
Maybe try thinking about all the people on the train ringing loved ones telling them where they are. On a train.
Five minutes down the track from the last phone call. Love ya.
I mean, fair dinkum, who gets off or on a train at Cockle Creek!!! Bunyips?
Wish it was that guy with the transistor radio.
Oh well, as we pulled into Broadmeadow a mere 25 minutes late, I reflected the call could have been worse.
It could have been unscheduled trackwork and we'd had to bus it.