Sara is the last of the trainees to arrive this morning.
She comes in looking hot and flustered and pretty annoyed.
'Sorry I'm late,' she says, fussing with her coat and bag as she settles rapidly into a seat. 'There was a bit of drama on the train.
The trainer assures her that this is fine and that he hasn't actually started. In fact, he excuses himself almost immediately for a few moments as he says he's left some resource materials he wants in his office. Left to our own devices, the rest of the group latch onto Sara's comment.
'Drama? Watcha mean?'
Sara takes a pull on her water bottle and smooths her burnt orange slacks.
'Oh my God,' she says. 'There was this... horrible old bat on my train this morning, making trouble. I know, that sounds awful, but this woman was unbelievable.'
'No, wait, where were you coming from? Which line?'
'Well I'm coming from Altona. The Werribee line?'
'Anyway, the train is totally crowded. People are pushed right up against the doors, sort of thing. It's like that every morning. And at my stop, more people just try and squish in. Except in the carriage I'm getting into, there's this older woman getting on through the same doors as me. She's probably in her sixties, and she's a bit overweight and she's got this really mean look on her face. You know, like she's already pissed off about something.'
'So the doors open and I start to squeeze in and this lady is right beside me. And straight away she goes, in this really loud voice,
'Aw fuckin' hell! There's no fuckin' room on this thing!'
'Which is probably fair enough, I think that myself pretty much every day, but still, it raises a few eyebrows.'
Chuckles from the training group.
'So the doors close and the train starts off and this woman tries to grab onto a hand hold, but it's hard for her to get one as the train is so crowded. So then she goes,
'Fuckin' hell. Fuckin' train. Rah Rah! You know why it's so crowded? You know why? Coz of all the fuckin' immigrants on it. The whole train is full of immigrants!'
Sara pauses for a moment.
'I'm sorry about that, I mean, I don't want to offend anyone, even second hand, but that's what she said. And then she just kept on yelling about the fucking immigrants and how they've ruined this country and we were all better off before any of them came here and how if it was up to her she'd make sure they were all thrown out of the country or locked up.'
You can hear someone in the group mutter 'Fuck me' and someone else mutter 'Tony Abbott.'
'So everyone was backing away from her while she's shouting. I mean, it wasn't just what she was saying but also she was just really aggro and she had this awful, thick, 'Strayn accent which just seemed to make it worse. And she just went on and on. And then the train got stuck between platforms for a few minutes so we were all trapped there with her. By this time she was going up to anyone who wasn't white and going,
'You, ya fuckin' cunt. You should get the fuck out of this country. My grandparents built this country and they didn't build it for the likes of you to come in and steal everything from it. You fucking thieves!'
'And she just went on like that. Yelling about her grandparents and stealing and telling everyone to fuck off. And everyone was backing away form her. Except me. I was standing pretty close to her and I was just glaring at her the whole time. Like, I was just waiting for her to say something to me. You might not think it to look at me, but I can be pretty fierce if need to be.'
Which I guess is probably true. That I wouldn't have thought it. Based, at least, on the previous week of training. Sara has so far presented as pretty mild, and about the friendliest person in the group.
'Anyway, finally this old hag comes around to me and she sees me staring at her. And I was giving her a real hard look. Like, 'just try something bitch.' I mean, I really wanted her to say something to me, or do something. I felt like I could kill her! So she glared at me for a minute and then she just stood still again. And we just stood there then, glaring furiously at each other. Total stand off.'
'Wow, so what happened?'
'Well the train pulled into the next stop and she got off.'
A sort of sigh from the gorup, and a bit of nervous laughter.
'But on the way out she snorted at me and went,
'Fucking two bob snob.'
To which everyone laughs properly.
At this moment the trainer re-enters and clocks everyone laughing at something.
'What's funny?' he asks.