The distressed Travellers’ Club


I turned up at my local train station on my birthday to find that they had removed the ticket machine.

In it’s place there was one of those confusing new Myki (Mouse?) machines.

Unlike most travelers I only travel occasionally so I don’t carry tickets with me.I only had a few minutes until my train arrived so my ancient brain had to work this out in a hurry.

The machine had slots for coins, paper money, credit cards and eftpos.

That’s a lot of pressure!

I decided on eftpos. I put the card in and it said EFTPOS, which seemed like a good start. I stood there and I waited, but EFTPOS was all it said. I went back to the main screen and selected “Buy a MYKI card”. The machine said “Do you want to top up your MYKI card?” Well no, actually, I want to buy one.

At this point the computer generated voice came over the PA telling us that my train would be along anytime now.

More pressure.

I decided to do what all ancient people do, I asked the nearest young person how this thing was supposed to work. He looked at it and said he didn’t think it was going to give me a card.

Wise words.

I pointed out that there was a “Buy a Myki card” option. I pressed it again just to show him, and again it asked me if I wanted to top up my MYKI card.

“You’re stuffed mate”.

Yes, I was.

Visions of a $120 train ride spun through my head but I needed to be on that train, and it was my birthday, no one would give me a fine on my birthday………… would they??

When I got to my destination I knocked on the ticket box door because I could not get off the platform without a ticket. Naturally it was “change of shift time” but surprisingly a young man opened the gates for me and a young girl blocked them with her body and a trapped gentleman (of Indian extraction) used the opportunity to escape (he had been standing in front of the gates for several minutes waving his MYKI card in the air but amazingly the gates would not open for him!)

I was momentarily distracted by the flash of the escaping Indian but I did notice that the girl who blocked the gates from closing did not even look up from her iPhone, she simple moved her body slightly so as to stop the gates from closing.

It seems that there is no age discrimination when it comes to the fraternity that is ‘the distressed travellers’ club’.

I thanked the thoughtful member of the younger generation but I don’t think she heard me. Her job was done and she was back to waiting for…… the next train, her boyfriend? I guess I’ll never know.

I wandered over to the ticket window as I figured that I was probably going to need one of these mythical MYKI cards. It was indeed a ‘change of shift’ so the young fella who let me out was now heading for the door and a brand new person was going to serve me in “just a minute”. I didn’t mind waiting it had been entertaining so far and I was looking forward to what happened next.

The lady behind the counter eventually spoke in that voice that quickly tells you that she has said this several times before……….. the card was going to cost me $6 (this seemed a bit rich as I was not going to be allowed on a train without one so now I’m paying for the privilege of paying to get on a train! But, this was no time to rock the boat.)

The lady cautioned me against putting too much money on the card in case I lost it. I guess she thought that I looked like the kind of bloke who lost stuff which is not true. It is true that I forget stuff which I guess is the same as I sometimes forget where I put stuff. Anyway, the lecture on the wonders of the MYKI card continued until we got to the part where I felt I should ask a few questions. As I opened my mouth she pointed to the gentleman standing behind me and said, “George will answer all your questions”.

This was the first time I had noticed George.

Wow, this whole process has a ‘division on labour’. That’s so cool!

George did indeed ‘answer all my questions’ but nearly had a heart attack when I tried to take my card out of the machine before the green arrow appeared. “DON”T!!!!! If you take your card out too soon the next person will get all the money on their card!”

Very good advice, thank you George.

I got the distinct feeling that the staff thought that the whole system was insane and was designed to take money away from poor gullible people like me. “Remember to touch off otherwise the next time you touch on it will charge you for a whole day” I wonder how often that is going to happen, sounds like a real money spinner.

So what did I learn?

I learned that people will still go out of their way to help you and some of those people get paid and some just do it even though they have no idea who you are; they just know that you need help.

I wasn’t feeling all that well when the journey started but by the end of it I was reminded that every day is an adventure, whether we like it or not.


She can smile……….. she knows how to use the damn thing.


When all else fails, ask a young person……….. “You’re stuffed mate”.

One thought on “The distressed Travellers’ Club

  1. Yes, it’s a scary thing. I’m a software engineer so I can almost picture a design in my head of how the thing would work. But does it work that way? No. They’ve made some absolutley baffling decisions while puttng this ting together. I can see how people can find it very daunting, especially “ancient” people!
    I think one major flaw is that the machine only tells you how much money is on your card. It can’t tell you how many trips you can make. I think that would be very useful information. It can be day- and zone-aware. Eg. $5 on a Sunday will get you a trip to the city. $5 on a wekkday will not.
    Apparently (they have since changed this) if you didn’t use your card for 4 months (maybe) the card would become dormant and unusable. You wouldn’t know until you tried to use and then of course you would miss a week’s worth of trains waiting for it to be enabled again.
    I better stop ranting now or Gippsland will run out of coal for my power… 😉


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