Action words #3

Butter Melts in All Our Mouths

A loud grey-haired lady perches on the front seat of the bus. It’s a perfect position for talking-to-the-driver-access. It’s the afternoon ride home and passengers have glazed-over eyes and weekday weariness.

On walks a teen girl, with soft hair, flowing down her back, her features emboldened by makeup; she’s got the knack for beauty, well beyond her years.

Sudden prickly tensions rise—the girl hasn’t paid her fare. My hairs stand on their ends, awkward silence fills the air, all the way down to the back seat. The girl defiantly walks on and then we hear the driver shout, “Get back here, come back!” Blatantly refusing, she fails to move on out. “You need to know what you’ve done,” the driver says at last, phrases like “…federal offence…” can be heard. The girl concedes, and power-walks off the bus, without a word. The watcher-lady pouts: “Looking at her, you’d think butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth!”

Shut up old hag, don’t you know that just snippets of insight can’t be considered true judgements in their own right? I’ve seen this girl before, sitting at my stop in the morning. Her mum, a cacophony of ice-induced rage, yelling and incomprehensibly scorning her daughter. The girl, when not hiding her face beneath her hair, picked up her mother’s wallet, paid for both tickets after her mum had recklessly stomped on. That righteous old lady doesn’t get it, and hasn’t even tried. No money, no family support—the girl gets few free rides in this life.

But who I am to judge? Just snippets of insight cannot really be considered true judgements in their own right.

Hey, scoffer-lady, can we grab coffee? I want to get to know you, so with reliability and conviction, I can say: “You entitled bag of shit, let’s give people a break, hey?”

Action Words is a series inspired by the people and things Olivia encounters in an unremarkable part of her everyday. She takes Action buses to work most days of the week — this time spent on public transport is often quite meditative and contemplative for her. Olivia’s intention was to find something of consequence in the ordinary.
Olivia is 23 and grew up in country NSW, then moved to Tasmania for university. There she completed a Ba Arts and Ba Science combined degree, majoring in Journalism, Media and Communications as well as Zoology. Olivia predominately writes creative non-fiction, but her published experience is mainly in news and culture writing. She’s written for a variety of publications including a university magazine, Togatus, Southern Riverina NewsThe Riot Act, Out in Canberra, Love and List, Conservation Careers, the ACT Writers Centre blog and magazine and her own blog, A Traveller at Home. She currently works in Canberra in book sales and distribution.
Image from here.

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