this (less-travelled) life
DURING the past few years an extension has been made to the Adelaide tram line and the journey can now start at the Entertainment Centre on Port Road and travel through the city and suburbs to Glenelg.
Fergus and I catch the tram from Stop 1 at Greenhill Road and he chooses Glenelg, long a favourite, or more recently the Entertainment Centre. Our routine is pretty fixed. Fergus articulates where he wants to go and goes to the corresponding side to wait excitedly, with reminders to stay behind the white line. He consults his cut-out tram picture and stresses he wants it to be a red one (the new ones).
I counter that with the warning it could just as easily be a yellow one. Fortunately, he will get on whatever the colour. The only time I have seen him baulk was when the Glenelg tram was overflowing with passengers as it was a warm day and everyone was heading to the beach. That time the tram driver stopped the tram, made her way to the door and asked us if we wanted her to find us a seat.
I love the service on the tram. We passed on the seat, but this interaction gave Fergus the courage to board.
Fergus has firm ideas on where to sit, usually at the front behind the driver. He also likes standing but needs to be reminded to hold on to a pole. At either destination we disembark, then watch with enthusiasm as that tram leaves and the next tram arrives. We hop on this next tram ready for the return trip.
I prefer Glenelg as a destination as we can go to the sea (we are up to light pole No 5 along the jetty). Fergus is always wary the tram will go without us watching, so we don’t spend a long time. Also, the conductors ride the trams to Glenelg on weekends. Fergus has a tram pin from one of them. Some of them remember his name. They often stop and chat. We always feel welcome. Soon the conductors will be gone from the trams and I will miss them. The generosity of spirit they have displayed to Fergus and me has encouraged me to persist in this weekend ritual of ours.
Fergus, like many small boys, was always fascinated with buses, trams, trains and trucks. We began with watching buses and trains at the corner near our house. Gradually we progressed to catching a bus, then followed with trains and trams. After years of learning the public transport weekend routine we are comfortable on the journey.
If we have been to the Entertainment Centre we will get off at the train station and catch the Belair train home. This train leaves on the hour on Saturdays so we have to get the timing right. I think this is why Fergus has chosen the Entertainment Centre destination more often recently. A tram and a train on the same day is pretty special. This is capped off with his father collecting us from the train stop. We could walk, but it just doesn’t have the same drama.
During the week Fergus reminds me regularly that on the weekend we will be going on the tram, train or bus. He is more non-verbal than verbal, but can articulate these words readily enough. His bed is an odd assortment of current favourite things but invariably will have the latest tram, train or bus cut-out from the internet.
When confronted with a challenge (most things can be fairly challenging), he asks to be reassured that at least on the weekend we can get a tram, train or bus and then all will be well in his world.