Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

Indoor Voices

Interacting with people from various countries in situations where we’ve all been forced together has shown me some of the universals.

In staying in the hostels, I’ve met a range of people. Some quiet, some loud. Some responsible, some not. Some clean, some messy. Some who are up for a night of sitting in front of the television, some who seem to be ready to drink cheap booze and play cards regardless of the day. And when staying in dorms, some who understand the concept of quiet hours and imposing on others and some who don’t. By the way I’ve written that I feel it fairly clear that I’m in the former camp. In preparing for departure this morning, knowing that I would be leaving the hostel at 6am, I closed up shop last night. Clothes sorted, packages wrapped up, carryon bag packed and everything zipped up before midnight last night. I woke up to a quiet alarm, slipped out of the room and finished sorting out in the deserted hallway. Over the couple weeks in Sydney I have met a handful of individuals who took a much more self-convenient at the detriment of everyone else approach.

Drunk idiots have tackled friends in the lower bunk at 4am to wake them up, much to the annoyance of the sleeping guy in the top bunk. Loud conversations to friends back home have echoed down the hallways at 5am. Lights have been turned on when people returned to the room at 2am so that they can sort themselves out despite the 4 other people already sleeping. Conversations, some kept to quiet talking, still were had in the room at 6am over a breakfast eaten in the room out of crinkly bags dug out from the bottom of grocery bags.

I write this sitting on the train from Sydney to Melbourne. It is a 12-hour affair. The train itself is fairly spacious and the scenery out the windows is nice. As Jen / Bryan had indicated I was able to watch the city turn to suburbs to forest, to less dense forest, to fields with trees, to scrubland with trees. As I think about what I’m about to write I realize that perhaps I am in a somewhat irritable mood. Perhaps I’m just done with people and hostels and crowds for a while, eager to get to the relative quiet of Melbourne and spend time hanging out with a friend at her place in the absence of 100 of my new, closest friends.

While getting my backpack situated in my seat, the seat in front of me was in one swift motion filled by a man reeking of cigarette smoke who reclined the seat back solidly into my skull. I paused at the annoyance. It was the smell more than anything. I debated switching across the aisle but in the process of looking at the seat realized I would be switching smoke for BO. So I sat and listened to music aiming to fall asleep and wake up in a calmer environment.

I woke up to learn that bogans are something I didn’t escape. Bogan is the Aussie term for redneck. At an intermediate stop in the journey we had picked up a group of about 6 people, a family unit of some form. There was a 20-year old woman who was the mother to at least one if not two of the screaming brat boys. She made no attempt to control, quiet, or in any way wrangle the boys. They screamed about farts and butt plugs, partially egged on by their 13-year old male relative who is already a chain smoker. I know this because he got into an argument with the ticket-checker about how smoking underage was his right. The ticket-checker seemed ready to kick the whole lot (woman, guy of about the same age, and kids – 13, 6ish, 5ish and a 3 year old girl) off the train. I wouldn’t have really begrudged him the move. “Your fares aren’t worth the trouble you create.” As I permanently fused my headphones with my ears, I couldn’t agree more.

One comment on “Indoor Voices

  1. Amy
    December 4, 2011

    I mentioned how much I appreciated the headphones you bought me, right?
    There was a South African couple in the Paris hostel who not only didn’t use a silent alarm, but they hit snooze. Repeatedly. The alarm went off every ten minutes for an hour starting at six am and I was about ready to shove their cell phone up their ass after the second time it went off and they hit snooze.

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This entry was posted on December 4, 2011 by in Australia, NSW (Sydney).

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