Posts Tagged ‘ trams ’

THE RESPONSE: My email to Yarra Trams

You may have noticed by now that I believe sarcasm is the second highest form of wit (lavatory humour being the first). Today, however, I write without even the slightest hint of it.

You may remember a few weeks ago I posted an email I had sent to this mob:

If you didn’t catch it, you can read it here.

I write the emails I send to well-known people and organisations, imagining very different reception scenarios. In the case of the Jim Beam email, for instance, I imagined a chimpanzee being slightly surprised by the noise of the email chime, making a little noise of distress, then (inexpertly) pressing the delete button with his long index finger, just like he’d been taught to.

In the case of the email I once sent to Kyle Sandilands, I imagined Jackie O phonetically reading the email on a tablet computer out loud from the side of a pool in which Kyle was lolling, and giving up after the second paragraph (and the fifteenth time Kyle called her a “dumb, illiterate moll”).

In the case of the email I once sent to Margaret Court, I imagined Margaret herself hissing at the screen and then escaping into the night through the window in the form of a bat.

When I sent my email to Yarra Trams, I imagined an overworked 21 year-old on their ninety-eighth email of the day (at ten past nine in the morning) scanning my email, seeing the word ‘poo’ and bringing up the “excrement-fouled tram’ template.

I imagined wrong.

What I got was nothing short of genius. Not a template at all – a real letter written by a real person.  A talented person. A person I now want to meet and drink beer with and possibly give a little kiss to at the end of the evening (and I fully realise Sam may well be a man).

Why am I still speaking about it? It speaks for itself:

Dear Mr Rivett,

Thank you for what is, by far, the most entertainingly written feedback I have ever received. Your recount of events that occurred on the evening of 13 April 2012 was at once concerning and humorous.

While I have attempted to respond in a manner befitting the feedback we received, I do not wish to give you the impression that your observations and concerns have been disregarded or taken lightly.

When I read the first of the drunkard’s ramblings, I took his question to mean ‘Is it to be that we are engaged to be married?’ As I continued reading, I attempted to jam his square peg outbursts into my round hole understanding of his first question. I soon realised I couldn’t make any sense of it, but I feel better knowing that you were equally confused. Also, I agree that “screamed he” is perfectly acceptable under the circumstances.

Notwithstanding my concern for Mr Pelican’s disruptive behaviour, I would like to think Biff was bowling his baked goods from somewhere near the centre of a B-class tram towards either end – there is a hatch in the floor at each end just behind each of the driver’s cabins. While hitting the sides of the hatch would send the unsliced wholemeal delivery off towards point or square leg (or in real terms, and annoyingly for all parties concerned, getting lost between seats and the legs of other passengers), pitching the loaf on the front or rear edges of the hatch could certainly be regarded as landing it in a ‘good area’.

I also hope Biff Pelican’s name is not indicative of what he does in his spare time. But I digress.

Getting back to the crux of the matter, a call was indeed made by our driver to our Fleet Operations Centre (FOC), logged at approximately 6:35pm, alerting them to the behaviour being exhibited by Biff’s arch-nemesis. (Not “control room” or “HQ”, I’m afraid, but I hope this name still appeals to your Dick-Tracy-esque ideals). After attempting and failing to deter the drunkard with an announcement via the public address system, FOC contacted the police. Four times. After the fourth request to have police meet the tram, a Yarra Trams Response Unit (is that ‘Dick Tracy’ enough?) became available and was instructed to intercept the tram (ok, so Response Unit might not have hit the mark, but surely ‘intercept’ is a winner, no?). After our Response Unit arrived, our Fleet Operator received a call at 7:16pm from a Senior Sergeant of Fitzroy Police who advised that no other police were available to attend, and that as such, he was on his way himself. He arrived four minutes later at 7:20pm.

Please accept our apologies for what you and your wife experienced on our Route 86 tram. Just as your questions are based on the predication that the police could not have possibly taken so long to respond to our call for assistance (and the cause for delay must have been within Yarra Trams), our Fleet Operator also believed that police would be available to meet with the tram in a timely manner. Regrettably in this instance, there were no police officers available to attend to the tram until 7:20pm, which contributed to the negative experience of those customers onboard the first Route 86 tram.

I appreciate your good-natured approach to this incident, and I thank you again for taking the time to provide us with your wonderfully written feedback.

Spare a thought for the Yarra Trams Response Unit staff who drove the drunken man home.

Should you have any further queries or comments regarding this matter, please feel free to contact me directly via reply email, or by calling me on 9619 3311.

Kind regards,

Sam Marshall
Customer Relations Officer

I am tempted to call Sam as offered, but know I would get shy and giggly and have to hang up quickly.

I can’t believe Yarra Trams received an email that ended with “…if you could respond as entertainingly as I have complained, I would be most grateful” and didn’t put it in the “arrogant fuckwit” outbox AND had a crack at responding entertainingly AND consummately nailed it AND found a balance between humour and facts AND satisfied pretty much every one of my concerns.


If Jim Beam want to know how to make something go viral they can put aside their  incomprehensible, cacophonous clusterfuck of an ad and take a leaf out of Yarra Trams’ book. Confound expectations, ignore corporate cliches, respond to cricket references with cricket references.

If you don’t recommend, refer, repost or retweet another of my posts ever in your life, do it to this one and give Yarra Trams the widespread adulation they deserve.

Haught fact of the day:

I once sent an email to Gasp Jeans’ Prahran store and within a few months it had closed down. Coincidence?


Grape Men quote of the day:

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”

“It’s fuckin’ April, you stupid fuck!”

“…tooooys in every store…”

“Eh, you hear this fuck?

“…but the prettiest sight to see…”

“I think he has pretty good voice, actually.”

“… is the hobby that will be…”

“Hobby? You silly fuck. It’s holly. Holly.”

“…on your oooown front door.”

“Leave the man alone. He got voice of angel.”

“But he doesn’t even know the fuckin’ words. Why would there be a hobby on your front door? It’s not even… a thing. It’s a fuckin’ abstract fuckin’ noun. And it’s fuckin’ April. AND HE’S FUCKIN’ WEARING SLIPPERS!”

“You are grump. You are grump man.”


Who are the Grape Men?

Find out here.


My email to Yarra Trams

Earlier today I gave Yarra Trams the benefit of my feedback:

Here’s a transcript of what I wrote:

Dear Yarra Trams,

Last Friday my wife and I decided to take the 86 tram (citybound) to a party in Gertude Street.

My wife calls the 86 a “colourful” tram and, insofar as this is a euphemism for any or all of “a little bit weird”, “often wet of floor”, “generally carrying at least one commuter who surreptitiously masturbates in transit”, etc, etc, she is right. We know what to expect when we hop on the 86 and, compared to taking a Metro train, the 86 is usually a pleasure – the occasional progress from one stop to the next alone is a hugely appealing differentiator.

On Friday night, though, we experienced something that even we (tolerant of the usual poo smells, early morning alcohol consumption of other passengers, and barnyard animals) found confronting.

We got on in Preston and immediately got our first “bit of 86”. A man of about 50, apparently drunk, confronted a person and asked theatrically “IS IT TO BE THAT WE ARE ENGAGED!?”

Do you know what this means? I don’t, but when it’s delivered like a line from quite a good production of King Lear, as it was in this instance, it’s strangely compelling. (By the way, I hope I’m not boring you with apparently minor details, but I know you probably get quite a few of these kind of complaint letters and most will be boring and some will lack the requisite level of explanation, and I wanted to make sure this one is neither mundane nor insubstantial.)

Anyway, the man’s target didn’t respond and he went on to the next person: “DO YOU ENGAGE!?”

Again, no response. This time he followed with “AN ANSWER IS REQUIRED!”

He was being quite aggressive in his manner, even if his language and delivery remained quasi-Shakespearean.

Still no response. Now the tram stopped, the doors opened and a man came on with his partner. “DO YOU ENGAGE?! WITH THE WORLD!? DO YOU?!” he screamed in the man’s face.

“Yes. Constantly,” replied the man, finding a seat and sitting down beside his partner.

This is what the inebriate seemed to be seeking and he sat down opposite the man. “AN ANSWER IS REQUIRED!” screamed he (“screamed he” seems more appropriate than “he screamed” in this case).

“Well, I’m afraid I have answered,” replied the gentleman with scrupulous courtesy.  It wasn’t matched by a young fellow a few seats down who yelled “Leave the bloke alone, you idiot!”

This did it. The drunk swung around in his seat and hollered “SHUT UP! SHUT THE FUCK UP!” Still – and you have to give the man credit for this – he managed to sound like Christopher Lee playing a particularly unhinged villain.

He returned his attention to the polite gentleman and said, “You MUST engage!”

The gentleman said he didn’t appreciate being yelled at. There was a brief pause before the drunk leaned forward and began screaming abuse into the gentleman’s partner’s face. She seemed disgusted and the gentleman demanded the drunk stop.

He yelled a few more baritone expletives then found another victim: “ENGAGEMENT IS A MANDATED REQUIREMENT! THERE MUST BE ENGAGEMENT!”

This, plus louder and louder “FUCK OFF!”s went on and on down High Street.

At one point an 86 regular who we know as Biff Pelican (because that’s what he once introduced himself as), boarded the train carrying a half-finished bottle of fruity lexia and wearing the expression of a man not entirely sure where he was, what he was doing there or why his trousers were sodden. (He was also wearing what looked like carbonara sauce, and a few pieces of penne pasta in his beard, if that helps.) Within seconds of sitting down, he was face to face with the angry tram bully. Usually it is Biff Pelican making preposterous announcements to commuters and asking questions with no sensible answer (once I saw him bowl a loaf of bread down the aisle like a cricket ball and yell “Good area, Biff!” after it hit a woman hard in the leg), but he was out of his league here. It was like that horror movie sequel which starts with the giant sea monster from the first film being devoured whole by a sea monster twice its size. Biff was off at the very next stop.

After more appalling behaviour from the drunk, there was an intervention. A message over the tram’s PA, coming from Yarra Trams’ control room (or whatever you call it – I hope it’s “control room” or “HQ”) directed at the man, told him that he needed to settle down or risk arrest. He ignored it and a second announcement made it clear that the tram would be stopping at Clifton Hill where police would be waiting.

This was a relief to us, and I imagine to all of the suffering passengers. But only for a moment. Clifton Hill seemed suddenly to be several thousand kilometres away. Every pause at traffic lights or a stop seemed to go on endlessly and, all the while, the drunk man’s cacophonous nonsensical pronouncements and insults continued.

Several people couldn’t put up with it and clearly got off well before they were supposed to. At one stage the drunk followed a man around the tram for ten minutes demanding he “engage” with him. He was frequently threatening and there was a sense that at any moment he might become violent.

Finally we arrived at Clifton Hill. The tram stopped, the doors opened and… nothing happened. There were no police. We waited. The man continued his dramatic performance, always seemingly on the precipice of blowing a vital internal valve.

We waited for what must have been half an hour for the promised police. When we eventually saw them, it was far too late. In fact we weren’t even in the tram – or at Clifton Hill for that matter. The driver had asked everyone to disembark and board the tram behind us. Most (the ones who hadn’t got a taxi or a bus) had followed these instructions, but the drunk and a group of teenage boys remained (the boys put the man at the centre of a juvenile game, in which they played the macho heroes – “You wanna say that to our face, man?” – until the bloke got close to them and threatened them at which point they squealed like Justin Bieber fans and ran, arms flapping, to the other end of the tram. They then resumed the macho show, then squealed, went macho, squealed, went macho and so on). With the little smart alecs riling the nutcase, the tram continued on, the driver having said he hoped the police would “catch up”.

The police arrived AFTER we’d been informed over the PA (of the second tram) that the drunk had finally got off the tram in front and was no longer a danger.


Why did you say the police had been called when clearly they hadn’t? Why did the driver tell us the Yarra Trams HQ were “having trouble getting through”? (Having trouble getting through to the police? What – for 45 minutes?) Why did we see a car with Yarra Trams livery before we saw a police car? Why did we wait around like a stale bottle of piss hoping something might happen at Clifton Hill if the police hadn’t been contacted? Why was a man capable of intimidating the magisterial Biff Pelican allowed to roam around on a tram roaring threats and abuse at passengers for an hour or more?

By bringing up these questions with your inaction, you’ve demonstrated ineptitude of the Metro Trains variety. Sorry, I know that’s the worst insult a public transport organisation can have thrown at them, but it’s true.

I look forward to hearing your explanation – and if you could respond as entertainingly as I have complained, I would be most grateful.


Jonathan Rivett

I’ll let you know when I get a response.


Read Yarra Trams’ scintillating reply.

Haught fact of the day:

The myki ticketing system was recently voted The Biggest Piece of Shit in the History of Civilisation by every single newspaper of record and ratings agency in the world. And the United Nations. And the International Monetary Fund and the World Health Organization. And the Country Women’s Association. And every single university in the world.


And the Red Cross.

Grape Men quote of the day:

“You… you hard all you life, you know.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean, mate.”

“You work hard. Many hard. Many hard. But… you… don’t… you know… necessary… get what… what… ”

“You don’t get the respect.”

“That’s it. That’s it, mate. You don’t get the fuck respect you fuck deserve.”

“It’s bullshit, mate. I know. I know that all too well, mate.”

“It’s fuck horsehit.”

“It is. It is. You’re right. You’re right, mate. Aaaanyway. Let’s try to start this bloody lawnmower.”

“OK. But first I do fart and I do piss on Enzo’s car.”


Who are the Grape Men?

Find out here.

Other emails I’ve sent: