central station .
Central Station is a mysterious piece of work. It’s almost as if it’s multi-dimensional, finding a way to be the thoroughfare between two worlds as well as an ordinary, everyday life experience. People walk through and end up in another part of their own life, completely unrelated to the first, whether it is to go home, to work, to school, or to the underground gang they have recently been establishing. Yet it is not a special occurrence; for many, this trip through a station will have happened tens of millions of times in their lives, taking up a part of every day they live. And here it loses its significance.
If you just take time to notice, you’ll realise that everyone is the same. The people that walk past share the mix of determination and thoughtlessness, combined with the impatient checking of a watch and the scurry to avoid those coming past in the opposite direction. They are brought together only to be separated again by destination, and it is not the journey they focus on.
They weave in and out, uninterested in the strangers that walk past, unlike the people you would meet at your local bus stop. But they are conscious of themselves, hoping the image they have spent so long perfecting will stay the same when they reach the other end.
I look at them all. And turn away when they look back.
As I walk through the station I am greeted by a homeless woman asking me for change. Like everyone else around me I hurry past her, just in case I catch her homelessness, and for a moment the fact that she’s human escapes me.
I make this journey every morning, like most of the other people that pass through. They all have a story, but on particular days when my mind is clouded with thoughts, I can only think of my own. When I don’t notice them as separate people they become a bunch of obstacles in my path, slowing down my daily journey to school, a goal that has to be achieved for reasons that are no longer thought of as they have eased into my life. And like always, I follow the current of people as they board the train.
Next station, Redfern…
When I notice the individuals, I categorise them in my head, putting everyone that walks past my in a stereotypical box which surrounds the image I see. The predominant ones are the business men who strut hurriedly in their smart suits and Christmas ties, holding the morning paper like it’s the only thing that will get them out alive. Then there are the average workers, the women who hold their romance novels and the men who hold their sci-fi thrillers. They head to their different jobs with the same deflation, only interested in making it through the day.
… Sydenham, Wolli Creek… and all stations to Cronulla…
The mothers and fathers come with their babies and toddlers at hand, casually glancing around their environment in case their overly loved children start screaming and yelling, and hoping to hush the kids before they cause any further embarrassment. They glance furtively at the school kids, sometimes loud ones in a big crowd and sometimes quiet ones by themselves, hoping their little bundle of joy will never turn into the rebellious teenagers from American TV.
School children are reminded to vacate their seats for fare paying passengers…
I could be both, yet neither. Those people could see me as a neatly dressed school girl who is on her way to big things like my teachers hope, or the stupid one who only cares about her appearance like my parents believe. Or they could not see me at all and focus on their own thoughts with no curiosity about the world around them.
Next stop Kogarah, stand clear, doors closing…
But after I’ve thought about all this I realise that I can’t stay in my little box and watch everything go by without a care in the world. This ignorance turns people selfish and uncaring, quickly and easily labelling others like I have done. They are the only thing that matters in their journey, and the people they come across are mere entities which fill up the world. But everyone has a story.
Tomorrow I will give that homeless woman my change, because she’s not necessarily going to use it on drugs.
Tomorrow I will realise something else about this world, because I’m not the only person that matters.
Tomorrow I will do my English homework.