I was on Swanston St earlier today and saw a rather troubling scene.
If you know Melbourne at all, you know that Swanston St is off limit to cars. Today, though, someone in a regular car was in the lane beside a tram. When I came onto the scene, the tram driver was yelling into his microphone at the person in the car. “Get off the road! You’re blocking the trams!! Get off the road!!”
Like, totes freaking out. His tone was angry but also condescending. I imagine that what he wanted to be saying was, “You idiot! Get the hell out of my way! What’s wrong with you?! Can’t you read a sign! Where did you get your license?!”
Pedestrians all around were gawking at this altercation. As the driver of the car eventually found a way to get out the situation (turning right – in front of the tram – into Little Lonsdale St), some of those pedestrians howled and clapped long and slow, a “good onya idiot, about bloody time”.
I think it’s pretty awful to speak to people the way the tram driver did today (and the way the pedestrians howled). It’s as if there is no room for error. You can’t make a mistake or it brands you as deeply incompetent, not worthy of respect.
But what’s more, it’s Swanston St! What if that was an interstate driver, under the pump in peak hour traffic? Caught out by a hook turn? Surely that tram driver or those people on the street wouldn’t need a lot of empathetic imagination to put themselves in the driver’s shoes.
I just reckon it’s really rough when we find ourselves unable to tolerate mistakes, and ready to belittle someone when they do. I think it’s doubly disturbing when it’s a guy with a microphone and 100s of people standing around on a street corner, behaving terribly to a lone person.
Poor form tram driver.