the kindness of strangers

Today I travelled by old fashioned tram with narrow high steps to an appointment across the other side of time with Grace in the buggy & no Mum or Gerard to help me. Normally if Grace & I are PTing  we use the buggy friendly modes of transport; ie the train, the low floor bus and/or the low floor tram. And we walk alot.

This is also the first time I have had to take Grace with me to see the shrink because a) I don't have to go very often anymore as I am not mad at the moment, b) Gerard is now working fulltime so I don't have a co-parent constantly available & c) I wanted to use my Mums' weekly visit as an opputunity to have a fitness re-assessment at the gym without having to compete for a creche place. I'm also getting used to taking Grace with me most places, this is what most mums have to do & strangely I feel better about myself as a mother for doing it too. Besides, Grace does love an outing!

I decided to take the old fashioned tram because it is a long but convenient trip. Almost door to door in fact. And it was pissing me off that I have a tram that stops almost outside our front door that I don't use very often. When I was pregnant, my Dad generously offered to buy us any pram we wanted, with all the bells & whistles.  So I spent hours test driving, researching, even to the point of asking people I saw with prams what they liked about theirs & how tram friendly they were. I even spent an afternoon(at about 38 weeks) hopping on & off trams, measuring doorways. But the clincher was when I saw a woman alight from an old tram unassisted with the Mountain Buggy that I thought the most stylish. I was impressed. So a Mountain Buggy is what we got. However, although it is great for walking about our suburb which has really, really crap paving, negotiating the tram was never as easy as it looked (particularly with the pram set up when Grace was a little baby).  And the buggy needs to be wiggled through the front door of our house!

Any way, we walk a few stops up so that I can by a ticket from the newsagent & sit to wait for the tram. I look at the others waiting for the tram, an elderly lady and a rough looking guy who'd come out of the TAB. The tram that I just missed was a semi modern one with wider doors, the one that pulls up is the most old fashioned there is. I lock the front wheel of the buggy, take a deep breath & prepare to struggle. "Wanna hand, luv?" the guy says almost as he is lifting the front of the buggy up the steps. He disappears almost before I can say thank you. Grace loves the tram, checking out the three year boy sitting opposite with his mum, burbling to anyone who will meet her eye. When we get to the end of the line, everyone gets of very quickly but I'm not worried, I know I can get down the stairs without time pressure. The driver walks past & grudgingly offers to help. "These aren't built for trams, are they," he says. Everywhere else we go that afternoon, there always seems to be someone to help us up or down steps, even when I could manage easily enough on my own. selves.

When Grace was a month or two old I became quite obsessed with not being able to get on the tram with her by myself & searched the Yarra trams for information about travelling with a baby in a pram. I thought there might be times when we couldn't travel, for instance. There's something in my memory about a rule like this, back in the olden days. (Ah the olden days, when we had conductors!)  However the only mentions of parents with prams were in the press announcements for the low floor trams. I called the customer line & made a complaint. Someone rang back to inform me that it was the job of the driver to help me, if they didn't have an injury such as a bad back preventing them from doing so. "But how would I know, I asked?" The customer service officer suggested that if the driver was unavailable then maybe another traveler might help.

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