Melbourne Tram

Chronic Conditions and Public Transport

Public transport can be challenging for perfectly healthy people. For those of us with invisible illnesses, it can be a nightmare.

Today, for the second time, I had a spat on a packed tram.

Melbourne is host to the Grand Prix this weekend. I happen to live AND work close enough to the event to experience complete transport disruption! Driving to work is just not an option: I discovered THAT on Wednesday when it took me forty minutes to travel about one kilometre.

I think many other people had the same experience, so they ALL decide to jump on public transport for the two weeks the roads are hell.

This morning I let two trams go because there was just no room. The third tram I managed to squeeze on. Normally I have no hesitation in asking for one of the “special needs” seats, but today the tram was SO packed even that seemed too hard! I decided I’d just cling on for dear life and hope the tram didn’t jolt too much.

About two stops further along, two more people tried to get in the door I was standing directly in front of. One was a particularly assertive male, probably running late for work, who was so insistent I move forward (where I was to move TO I have no idea) that he gave me a decent shove in the back to encourage me to make room for him. While I do not like being shoved, my back likes it even less – and complains bitterly. I told him in no uncertain terms I was not moving. “I have a bad back and there is no room for me to move anyway”, I said. After all, HE was the one trying to fit onto an already obviously overloaded tram. I suggested maybe he wait for the next tram.

His response? If I have a bad back, I shouldn’t be on the tram! I was so very close to simply pushing him off the tram. He causes me pain and then suggests I shouldn’t be on the tram because I have a bad back? He had no idea whether I was going to work or a medical appointment, whether I was able to drive a car or not (maybe public transport was my only option). Yet he was clearly WAY more important, in his mind, than my (or anyone else’s) well-being.

Apart from the fact he was simply a rude, aggressive person, he had no hesitation in shoving a stranger in the back to try to force that person (me) to move. That is actually not safe behaviour. I am fine, but another person may not have been. I’m pretty fit and healthy these days, even so certain things still cause me pain. Being shoved in the back is one of those things. I know some people who would have suffered way more than I did and for much longer.

On the previous occasion this happened to me, the very bossy, aggressive person was a woman who I DID actually push off the tram! I didn’t mean to, but she pushed me so hard and it hurt so much I instinctively pushed back, she lost her balance and fell back out of the tram.

Just because we have invisible illnesses we can’t travel at off-peak times. Is this man suggesting I just give up working, give up being a productive member of society? Oh, I can just see the Department of Human Services granting me a Disability Pension on the basis I can’t travel to work because rude people shove me in the back! Yep, that’s a winner, right there! There is a very good chance he is also the sort of person who claims anyone on a pension of any sort is a malingerer – yet he doesn’t want to make a small adjustment in his day (an adjustment he should have planned for given the state of today’s trams was not a new situation) to accommodate anyone else. Clearly I should just take my damaged spine elsewhere and let him take my place on the tram.

Yes, I am venting. I am venting for all the other people in similar circumstances. As a society it behoves all of us to treat each other with care and respect. We never know what challenges any individual is dealing with and we should NOT assume the person we are about to shove in the back is as healthy as we are.

Rant over.

Published by

Robyn Dunphy

I offer exercise guidance to those with chronic medical conditions where exercise is beneficial.

13 thoughts on “Chronic Conditions and Public Transport

  1. I clicked “like” Robyn, not because I like what you experienced today but because you highlighted the atrocious way people often act when they have no idea of another person’s situation. I’m so sorry you had to endure such an awful experience
    Sam xx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What is wrong with people these days. It has become common behavior to be rude, abusive and void of manners, especially towards more elderly, that’s over 40. Think I would have exploded and read him the riot act. Or accidentally on purpose stand on his foot 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, trust me, most of the tram heard me! I was not happy. Luckily the pain doesn’t last long for me, but for others it could be very bad. However it is intense, so I react on instinct, which is self-protection. That’s how the woman fell off.


  3. Omg!!!! This was me every single day until I was told to stop working! I used my walking stick every day (I have a disc stuck on nerve + 3 other herniated discs, spinal stenosis, arthritis and DDD), and I used to walk onto the train seeking a disability seat but most people refuse to make eye contact with me. They see me and my walking stick for a split second but then decide “maybe someone else will give up their seat if I don’t look”

    Usually it’s the really old men (gentlemen) from a lost era that offer me a seat. One day an elderly man offered me a seat and I said loud enough for the whole train to hear “thank you sir but you deserve that seat, these young women and school kids avoiding my eye contact on purpose when I know they can see my stick are the ones who should be moving” and they still didn’t move!!

    So happy I don’t work anymore, every train ride killed me. I was walking to the station after work one day with my walking stick and these two guys were running 🏃🏽‍♀️ full speed and BAM!! Straight into the back of me! The electric shocks ripping trough my body caused me to react immediately without thinking and I screamed, oh man did I scream in their faces I screamed until I lost my breath and was red in the face.

    I must admit another place I have trouble like this is the supermarket. Being only 27 but looking younger (very short haha) adults and older people expect me to move out of their way in the aisle but moving the trolley side ways kills my spine. I was so enraged the other day at the supermarket I pushed past a mother and daughter who were so unaware and clueless they were taking up the whole aisle and I knocked over an entire display. I was in so much pain I was about to cry and my skin was burning up and I felt like I was about to faint from the pain but I couldn’t even bring myself to care about knocking an entire display over.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I laughed when i read you “accidentally pushed a woman off the tram” Omgoodness I have wanted to do that often. My hospital trip always has a tram included in the trip. Most are old, step steps, the new ones to sit on a seat you have to “climb” into them. Or there are no seats! I mean come on Melbourne Trams, I need to sit. My peeve is people who allow their kids or bags to have a seat and don’t give them up to people who are disabled.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just ask these days. Oh, I know what you mean about the new ones! They are a really weird design, I can’t see how they are space efficient at all.

      I actually rang one of the local schools to suggest they remind their pupils to stand for people with special needs.

      The other issue is headphones – often you nearly have to tap them on the head to get their attention when asking for a seat!

      Liked by 1 person

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