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The Choice

We know how the trip will pan out even before we get on the tram. The driver is agitated. He uses his bell accordingly. He repeatedly ‘dings’ three times, announcing his tram’s presence on the road. His bell is warning system—reflecting his mood. Everything becomes an emergency. How the driver operates the bell changes his attitude and the way he drives the tram. It also changes the posture of the passengers on board. We collectively become jumpier.

Contrast the ‘treble ring’ warning system with the way most Melbourne tram drivers use the bell. They ‘ding’ in a potentially dangerous situation—to alert a cyclist and distracted pedestrians or to let passengers know the tram is about to start moving. Often their bell signals a friendly greeting to other tram drivers as they pass each other on the road. I can empathise with the ‘treble ring’ tram driver. Perhaps he’d just had one of those days? But he has more power than he realises.

We each get the chance to, as author Neil Gaiman says, ‘make the world better for our having been here.’ How we show up to do that is a choice.

Image by Edward Blake

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