Almanac Life: Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind

Melburnians awoke to a foul Thursday.  Wet, cold, bloody miserable.


The weather aborted my usual walk to work, forcing me to tram it which I hate.


Walking to the tram stop the footpath was slippery, the air was muggy and people were grey and moody.


My husband and I have been meditating daily this year, mainly as a tonic for life’s curve balls.


A recent positive affirmation meditation I found on-line threw out the phrase:


“Something great is about to happen!”


In a putrid mood with work clothes and shoes already wet I repeated the phrase unconvincingly to myself.


I missed five trams in a row – three because of traffic lights and two because they were too packed to let me on.


I texted my husband letting loose my frustrations with the weather and Melbourne’s transport system.


He replied back: “Breathe in deeply”.


I was not in the mood.  I decided to jump on the next tram regardless of its destination, knowing it would at least get me closer to work.


As I boarded I noticed a potential seat but it was occupied by a passenger’s backpack.  I perched on the edge of the seat anyway.  The passenger moved the bag making way for my bum.


I turned to offer my thanks and found myself looking straight into the beautiful beaming face of a young man with Down Syndrome.


“Thanks for moving your bag for me”, I said.


“It’s cold isn’t it” he replied.


Yes but it’s nice now in the tram.


Do you like my haircut? (rubbing his crew cut) My dad did it for me!


Yes, I love it you look very handsome.


My dad took off my hair from my face too, it’s called shaving.


You look very clean and smart!


Are you going to work?


Yes, where are you going?


I’m going to work too – I work in the Docklands.


That’s great what do you do there?


A cleaner.


You’re a cleaner? Do you like it?


Yes, I love it. I work from nine to twelve. What time do you work?


I work until nearly five o’clock.


Tomorrow is Friday!! That’s good isn’t it? What are you doing on the weekend?


Not sure but I will definitely be watching some football.


Me too I’ve got the Foxtel.


Me too. Who do you barrack for?


I go for the Bombers Yay!


I barrack for the Tiges.


Booooo I only like the Bombers.


Who is your favourite player?


Ummmmm (few seconds of pondering)


Is it Jobe Watson?


Yes! I like Jobe Watson!


Yes I like him too.


But he is on drugs and that’s not good is it?


No, no….you should barrack for the Tiges then, they aren’t on drugs!


No! Boo! I only go for the Bombers!!


Do you know that the Tiges and the Bombers are playing each other this weekend?


The Tiges and the Bombers?


Yes, on Saturday night. It’s the Dreamtime at the G game. Do you know that one? It’s my favourite.


Yes I like it too!!


Between the Vic Market and Collins Street I found out my new mate was called Enzo, he got a bus and then a tram to work, and then a tram and a bus back home and had a dog “instead of a cat”.


As we got up to disembark at Collins St I asked him if he had an umbrella as it was still raining.


No, but I’ve got a beanie in my bag. It’s a Bombers one, I will put that on.


I wanted to give him a hug goodbye but we were involuntarily separated by a surge of fast-moving hostile umbrellas.


Immersing myself in a drab John Brack Collins St, I realised the weather hadn’t improved but my outlook certainly had thanks to the joy that was Enzo.


Later that night I reflected on the randomness of connecting with Enzo.  Of how highly emotionally intelligent he was, how much fun our conversation had been,  how affectionately he spoke of his dad, how proud he was of having a job and on how he confidently negotiated trams and buses.


I also thought how precious he must be to his family.


I then remembered a beautiful story posted early this year on this site by Dips O’Donnell.


Dips described the sheer parental terror of knowing his beloved daughter Kate was at the age and stage where she needed to develop the skills to enable her to independently traverse the public transport system and by implication the wider world.  And all the anxieties that flowed from knowing she would at times be alone in these travels.


(Read here: )


Sometimes living in Melbourne and working in the CBD really gets me down.  The packed trams and streets.  The rushing, the pushing, the shoving, the invisibility of the scared, the vulnerable, the lonely and the broken.


But, out of the blue, in the middle of all this, if you are lucky, you find yourself sitting next to Enzo or Kate.


And then, something great happens.




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  1. Keiran Croker says

    Beautiful! Great things are happening all around us.

  2. Lovely story Tess.

  3. Great way to start the day. For you on Thursday. For me on Saturday reading your piece. Thanks for sharing.

  4. E.regnans says

    Love it Tess.
    Love it Enzo.

  5. Neil Anderson says

    If my autistic son is trying to use public transport like Dip’s daughter and a stranger sits besides him, I hope it is you Tess.

  6. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Ah yes, meditation Tess. I struggle to stay in the space between thoughts but I keep going back – Serenity Now !! Ultimately I have to trust that the day will reveal to me where I need to be and with whom. The why’s come later.
    Bless you Tess and Enzo. Couldn’t find a more life-affirming story to start my Sunday. Thank you both.

  7. What a wonderful way to start a wet day.

  8. G’day Tess. Wonderful story, wonderfully told. Great effort by Enzo to master the trams and to master his job. It seems he is finding his place in the world.

    I often tell Kate that if she tries really hard, good things will happen. I have to believe that it is so.

  9. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Tess for sharing I find helping out with various people and being involved with the disability sector helps me far more than I help them and go Enzo ( I love Dips stories about Kate’s adventures they are a almanac highlight.)

  10. Made me smile (and a lump in the throat too)

    Sweet read Tess, love it


  11. Rob Moodie says

    A lovely, very touching and beautifully written story Tess. Keep them coming. They make Melbourne a better place to be.

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