We weren’t in a hurry, but we ran for it anyway.
My friend took off first. My hesitation meant that I didn’t get there in time to board the green and gold monster. I kept running the way that young people do — all optimism and strength. Couldn’t manage it these days.
My continued momentum paid off because the lights changed, and the tram had to stop. Of course, these days, the tram would have triggered a green light and sailed right through, but back then, such things were unheard of.
These days the driver would not let you on just because the tram was stopped at the lights. Back then, there were no doors, so you could hop on whenever you liked (the conductor might get a bit annoyed, but mostly they didn’t care).
This particular tram was packed to the door line. Tram etiquette was such that people would squash up to let you get off the step, but sometimes you had to ride there until the next stop. Then someone would get off, and you could clammer on.
On this day, I was feeling cheeky.
“Freedom!” I cried as I held my bag high above my head. A couple of the people standing in the doorway smiled.
“You still have to get on, William Wallace,” one bloke said.
The sea didn’t part, and I was left to cling to the running board. I didn’t mind. I’d made it. Now to find my friend. I know he’s on this tram, but he’s too cool to call out.
When the lights changed, the tram took off, and so did the rest of the traffic. A large Ford came perilously close to scrapping me off the side of the tram.
Drivers have a built-in desire to pass trams. Of course, they get stuck at the next set of lights, but ‘getting past’ is a badge of honour.
It was a warm afternoon and my shirt flapped in the breeze, which was nice. I was strong back then, so I never considered that I might fall off. My hands could propel me anywhere.
As I said, I don’t remember where we were going, but I do remember the feeling of joy and abandon that comes with the company of friends and the exhilaration of hanging off a tram flying down Collins Street on a warm afternoon.