WHAT is one of the worst passengers you can encounter on a Perth metropolitan train on your way to work…apart from a racist?
The Australian cockroach.
Which is misleading because it’s actually an introduced species from Asia according to my research (thanks Google) – and it was certainly an introduced species on this early morning train where it was met with amusement, terror and worse, by some of its formerly mild-mannered fellow passengers.
Generally, the commonly annoying commuters are those who force you to listen as the fine hairs (known as stereocilia) inside their cochlea are bashed down, never to send electrical impulses to the brain or stand tall again, in time with the unrelenting decibels from their natty ear phones.
But I met a new kind this morning.
She welcomed me onto the empty seat beside her, a refuge from the gently swaying herd; I felt safe beside this pretty 50-something wearing a dusty pink twinset.
Despite sitting very close to one another, as you always do on public transport, we didn’t touch, despite the lurching passage of a learner driver as they arrived and departed the six or seven stops.
I drifted into my usual absent-minded reverie, studying people’s shoes, tattoos, piercings, hairstyles, dandruff…contemplating why people cared less about taking personal phone calls knowing they were being overhead by all and sundry, well, those of us without earphones…Oh. Just me then. Marvelling at those stoically reading actual books in such cramped confines, randomly dotted between others mutely interfacing with their smartphones as if their happiness depended on it.
Until! The demure lady alongside shoved her elbow fair into my side-boob rib cage!! Thinking she had simply been thrown off balance by an unsteady neighbouring passenger, I was soon staring into her popping, terror-filled blue eyes as she loudly declared, in a thick Scottish brogue, “thayre’s a cookroooch on the trreyne”!!!
As she jerkily lifted her knees to keep her feet safe from the wretched beast, another passenger sarcastically mused it must have gotten on at bogan-ville further down the line.
Of course it did! It jumped the gap, minding it all along, desperate to get off at a more affluent suburb.
Feet shuffled, eyes peered floor-ward, shoes lifted and toes twitched and before I knew it, the dark brown insect was a sickening mush.
“It’s awkheee! I’ve murrrdurrrudd ut!” the Scottish train cockroach spotter proclaimed victoriously, her face turning nearly as blue as her homeland’s prood flag.
The carriage drew to a standstill, the doors opened and the commuters grimaced at the rank smear on the heavy-duty carpet as they filed out…that roach was less scarier alive.
I moved seats, knowing I’d be compelled to look at the insectuous remains over and over again, otherwise.
RIP Australasian traveller.