It was a Friday night in Melbourne; 5:10 pm and the masses were leaving the city ready for a pleasant summer weekend away from the office and the inexorable pressures of the downsized overworked cauldron that occupied their lives from Monday till Friday.
But, first there was the last indignity to be confronted - the Friday peak catastrophe officially known as The Metropolitan Transit System. So, dear reader, cast your inner eye to Parliament Station and a platform seven deep in commuters waiting for the 5:15 to Lilydale. Alas, the loudspeaker is clearing it's throat and sure enough the dreaded message is heard "Due to defective trains, the 5:15 to Lilydale has been cancelled. We apologize for any inconvenience,"
When the 5:36 finally approaches the platform, the crowd has grown to 9 deep, there are potential passengers standing on the stairs unable to fit on the platform and there is this awful thought prevailing that any space on the train may already have been filled by people getting on at Flagstaff & Melbourne Central. You might well say that at Parliament there is this over-riding sense of inevitable disappointment.
Except for one man! As the train stops and the doors open, he single mindedly lowers his head and powers through the masses like they were just not there – alighting passengers, pregnant women, war veterans with missing limbs – all are ignored and indeed trampled underfoot as he thrusts through the doors like a five year celibate bridegroom and secures the only vacant seat in the carriage. Mission accomplished, he produces a book from his briefcase and buries himself in it, completely indifferent to the resentment his uncouthness has aroused.
Well, for the rest of the strap hangers who inhabit his carriage, the journey appears interminable. Richmond, East Richmond, Burnley, Hawthorn, Glenferrie, Auburn, the stations seem endless and the crush for standing room never eases off. But, by Box Hill, there is some breathing space and after Mitcham, there is actually one vacant seat. Which is where our inconsiderate buffoon finally lifts his eyes from his book and looks around the carriage.
There, immediately opposite him, is a NUN!!
His eyes catch hers and immediately move on but yet irresistibly return. She is to him Dante's Beatrice, Samson's Delilah and Da Vinci's Mona Lisa compressed into a single package and dangled before his eyes. He is no longer a happy man. He is totally, euphorically obsessed. All he can think of is this incredibly beautiful woman sitting directly opposite him.
The train travels on. Ringwood has passed, East Ringwood, Croydon and finally Mooroolbark recede into the distance. And he is left alone with her in the carriage, He knows that this is the climactic moment of his life. He must now speak or for ever be left ruing his gutlessness & his failure to seize "THE MOMENT".
So, at last, he lifts his head and looks her in the eyes and stammers out:
"I know by your habit & wimple that you are a Nun but I have to tell you that you are the most beautiful women I have ever seen and I want to spend the rest of my life with you and please, come home with me tonight."
She was gentle with him, She gave this strange sweet sort of a hint of a smile and said "I'm glad you recognized me as a Nun but you obviously don't realize what that means. I am a Bride of Christ and I could never give myself to anyone else but Him. So, thank you for your compliment but I really must decline.
The euphoria has gone. His dreams lie in shattered shards around his feet. Inexorably, the train winds its way around the last bend and comes to a final stop at Lilydale. And the Nun gets up without another look at him and disembarks. Much like a puppy following its mother, he too gets up and gets out of the carriage but then he just stands there on the platform watching as she heads for the exit.