Legal precinct stereotypes

William StreetIn the legal precinct (William Street between Little Bourke and Latrobe Streets, for non-Melburnians), there are three distinct groups of people that strike me as common, but whom you don’t see much of in other areas of the CBD:

1. Young men looking uncomfortable in shirts and ties (and sometimes suits) — eg defendants and witnesses… there are women and older men too of course, but they don’t stick out as much. Most of them seem to smoke (at least, most of those standing on the street), and the tattoo count seems to be above that of the general population.

Sometimes they have an entourage who are similarly dressed-up, and sometimes they have an entourage who are in their usual clothing, which makes the defendant stick out even more. None of this demographic knows where to stand on the Flagstaff station escalators.

2. TV crews hanging about the entrance keeping a lookout for some of those defendants, especially in front of the Magistrate’s Court.

3. People in capes and funny wigs (various legal eagles), who in this neck of the woods, don’t raise an eyebrow.


Some people who wear uniforms (or other specialised clothing for work) are very obvious. The presence of police and other emergency service workers always makes me wonder what’s wrong. Other uniforms are less obvious.

Someone called Elly Lukas apparently runs a beauty school. There seems to be no end of girls with their hair tied up wearing Elly Lukas special beautician tops on the train and around Collins Street, nattering away to each other or sharing their iPod headphones.

Early morning and early afternoon you see tradies on the train, going to/from their early shifts. Painters whose clothes and shoes are thoroughly covered in paint. Some carrying gear with them, some not.

Around the suburbs, at least the well-to-do ones, you’ll see young adults going to and from their split-shift jobs, wearing polo shirts with the names of the outsourced school childcare operations, such as Camp Australia. Few of them seem to last long in those jobs, presumably being a stopgap, not very well paid and crap hours. (At least, early mornings involved, which personally I’d call crap hours.) They seem to have boundless enthusiasm though, which is good, since for many families, the children are entrusted to them for many hours a week.

In the streets of my suburb in the evenings and weekends, young people in black and white can be seen, walking to and from their after-hours jobs at Safeway. They usually don’t put on the tie/scarf until they get to work.

On CBD streets are charity collectors… though most of them seem to be overseas backpackers with a charity de jour du jour t-shirt on, armed with clipboards and collection tins. You can see them from a long way off because the t-shirts are invariably garish and don’t match the clothes they’re wearing.

I’m sure there’s plenty of others that I can’t think of right now.

Common urban tribes: Middle-aged male

Common urban commuter tribes of the 67

NAME: Middle-aged white collar male (Daggus Middleagi)

APPEARANCE: Greying or disappearing hair. Striped tie, Hush Puppies. Pullover under jacket on cold days. Plastic raincoat on wet days.

ACCESSORIES: Old beaten up briefcase. NEVER has a walkman. Always has an umbrella – just in case.

VOCABULARY: Not known to speak, apart from “Zone 1 daily please.”

OTHER ATTRIBUTES: Has difficulty keeping control of faculties when sneezing. Often drops papers all over the floor of the tram. Closely resembles George Dent in “Drop The Dead Donkey”.

Common urban tribes: Groovy women

Common urban commuter tribes of the 67

NAME: Groovy women (Hippus floppyhatti)

APPEARANCE: Never over 40. Generally wearing boots, a beret, beanie or floppy hat. Short hair and an abundance of black clothing.

ACCESSORIES: Gloves during winter. Cloth bag or one of those dicky little backpacks. Probably has a mobile phone, but then, who hasn’t?


OTHER ATTRIBUTES: Usually reading fashionable magazines or lecture notes, or having what sounds like an incredibly pretentious and
meaningless conversation.

Common urban tribes: Young male executive

Common urban commuter tribes of the 67

NAME: Young male executive/consultant (Yuppis Andersenis)

APPEARANCE: Double breasted suit or jacket and trousers. Fancy tie. Button-down collar. 55% chance of cuff-links. Trenchcoat in winter.

ACCESSORIES: Mobile phone generally concealed about person, but nobody ever calls. Copy of The Financial Review. Briefcase or big leather diary.

VOCABULARY: Mostly TLAs and discussions on tax minimisation.

OTHER ATTRIBUTES: Annoying habit of pulling cord and standing by the door a ridiculously long time before the stop.