Sunday, July 18, 2021

How to wear a mask and eat lunch on a Melbourne tram


It’s probably just as well we can’t read each others’ minds but I confess to curiosity at times. Recent experience on a Melbourne tram occasioned a time, leaving me curious about the vagaries of my fellow mask-wearers.


Copied from the internet


I heaved myself up the steps onto the tram and was bracing to lower my behind onto a vacant seat just inside the door reserved for the elderly infirm blind and pregnant when we hurtled off down the tracks. Whump went my bum onto the seat. Whew! A graceless sit but I was too relieved not to have landed flat on my back had we taken off a nano-second or two earlier to fuss. Oh what bliss to get the weight off the lumpen old feet after tottering down the hill to the tram stop.

“I haven’t got enough room,” announces the woman on the window seat next to me. She sounds aggrieved.

“I’m not that fat,” I venture, checking. Was I taking up more than my share? I felt my buttock in relation to the edge of the seat. If I were to accommodatingly wriggle over, my right buttock would end up suspended in mid-air over the aisle. I look to my left and discover I am sharing my seat with a shopping bag.

From the corner of my eye I take a quick reccy. My fellow passenger is removing her mask with one hand and selecting a slice of pizza from the box balanced on her bagless lap with the other.

I should have mentioned at the outset it remains mandatory to wear a mask on public transport in Melbourne.

Muttering savagely now, the woman returns the slice, closes the box and seizes it with her mask-holding hand, retrieves her shopping bag wedged between our respective right and left buttocks, stands up, whips past my knees and takes off down the aisle, leaving me in awe of her ability to maintain her balance in a tram going so fast it’s oscillating.

It’s embarrassing being lumberingly old in front of the spritely middle-aged.

“Old age sure ain’t for sissies.”

Bette Davis had the above stitched on a cushion.

I assume Pizza Woman found two vacant seats side by side, one for herself and one for her bag, further down the careening vehicle. Arthritic neck precludes me from looking over my shoulder but, curiosity aroused, I’ve been noticing how we wear our masks ever since.

Are we sheepishly doing as we’re told without considering it our business to wonder why? Donning a mask to board a tram or train only to find a seat and take it off again to eat lunch is commonplace. Correctly-fitted masks are almost the exception. Countless pedestrians wander around obsessively hitching up loose masks perpetually slipping off the tips of their noses. Young and old from all walks of life save themselves the bother by covering their mouths with surgical masks and breathing through naked nostrils. Masks adorn wrists and elbows, dangle from single ears and escape from trouser pockets—


Copied from internet.

Masks litter the streets, reminding me of the olden days when stay-at-home mums sent their little girls to school with flowers for teacher, sandwiches, an apple and a homemade biscuit for play lunch in their schoolbag, and a freshly ironed hanky in their pocket, remarkable numbers of which ended up on the footpaths to be scooped up by less affluent little girls and taken home for their mums to boil up in the washhouse copper and recycle. Mums still knew how to work their magic with wartime rationing in those days.

Consumerism is our religion now and no one would dream of recycling discarded masks, not even the escapee designer jobs, any more than they would the snowfalls of mercifully biodegradable tissues tossed aside like cigarette butts.

Now the last time I looked travelling unmasked on public transport was not actually written into the Australian criminal code although it can theoretically elicit a fine under our current Victorian state of emergency.

As time goes by I watch the unashamedly maskless board public transport and take a seat. They don’t look like the rest of us halfmasked sheeples. They don’t pretend to comply. And they are multiplying.

I’m afraid of COVID. I don’t step outside my door without a fitted N95 mask. And I’m a compliant sort of person at the best of times. Even if I wasn’t afraid of COVID I would still wear a mask on the tram because the Victorian government told me to.

Curiously reading my own mind now, I notice I have a growing respect for the barefaced maskless. 

And what might I think of those who wear their masks on their mouths when stepping aboard but take them off to eat their lunch while travelling round the Melbourne public transport network?

It is only a step from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Napoleon Bonaparte


🙈 🙉 🙊


  1. Great essay! I hate when people toss their masks on the ground where someone else has to pick it up or it can get caught on wildlife or plug up or sewers.

    Curious minds want to know why you have a growing respect of maskless people. Do you see them as brave?

  2. Indeed it is only a step from the sublime to the ridiculous! The Mouse Hammock Meme I had seen before so now every time The Man and I see a discarded Mask we call them Mouse Hammocks. As for the Maskless, now this new Delta variant is rampant and no Children under 12 even Qualify for a Vaccine yet, I don't have any respect for them whatsoever, it's foolishness and selfishness, not bravery. I can't know the condition of those around me and who might still have high risk factors should they become infected... I also don't want to experience even a Mild Case, tho' fully Vaxxed, because they're already talking about the need for Booster shots... so I think perhaps these Super Variants that the Anti-Vaxxers are a willing Breeding Ground for, could be more dangerous than they want to Panic us by revealing?