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”.

Clear out

We’re attempting a major clear out of the spare room. Okay, so I’m willing to admit that it’s quite possible that the natural state of the spare room is to be messy. But this messy? What would my mother say? (Yes mum, that’s why it’s always locked and bolted shut.)

That ten year old Melways is going. Same with the old computer magazines that contain (would you believe) not a single occurance of the word "Internet" between them. Wow. They must be six, seven years old! Genuine Ancient history, folks.

And as for those old library books… Ah. Hmm. Uh oh.

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?

VOCABULARY: Ciao!

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

School buses and Coke

US School BusSchool buses. There is nothing quite like an American school bus. I don’t know why they have to be that colour, but it’s cool. Maybe they found people just didn’t spot them unless they were big, yellow and with lots of stop signs attached.

After a few days on holiday in America, the school buses became a bit of an obsession with me. I just had to get a good photo of one. Australian school buses are just plain buses, so it would be just as much a postcard as a piccy of the Grand Canyon.

At first I couldn’t snap one. They’d be past before I got the camera out. They taunted me. Until we stopped in the little town of Jerome, Arizona (proud to announce the arrival of the town’s first bank machine), and I snapped one coming down the main street. Of course, once I got my photo, I’d see fleets of them everywhere – typical, eh? But it didn’t matter – I had my picture of the big yellow school bus.

The USA is one of the last countries still to hold out to metric. Imperial measurements rule. There is nothing more confusing than to attempt to buy a drink that’s 12 fl oz, when you not only don’t know how much a fl oz is, you don’t even know what it stands for. I got by though – I’d just look at the sizes on offer and choose the middle one. That way I knew I wouldn’t be getting anything pathetically small or ridiculously big.

But I get the feeling that metric is sneaking in… it’s taking over by stealth. It’s on the stuff that nobody reads – the nutrition information. Well, almost, the energy/fat (it’s energy if you use it, it’s fat if you don’t) is in calories instead of kilojoules.

There was one other thing measured in metric, something that I didn’t expect. Coke bottles. Yep, the ol’ two litre bottle of Coke is alive and well in the USA. But the cans are [some amount of fl oz] that brings them out at only 355ml! Ripped off! No wonder I still felt thirsty after drinking a can of Coke; I was 20ml short of quenching my thirst! Americans! Rise up! March on the streets! Demand your 20ml of Coke!

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.