diary: public transport as a metaphor for life?

I had an appointment for an MRI at Prince of Wales will this afternoon. I must admit that I’m not really sure what the MRI is for. Doctors seem to require a battery of tests – last month I had a cat scan. After a while you tend to go along with the flow although I do think it would be wiser of me to have a better grip on what it is all for. My wife suggested the MRI was to make sure there was no tumours around the screws in my neck. She may be right, we shall see.

In any event, I left home at 1:10 PM and returned home at 4:30 PM having gone nowhere. For those of you familiar with the Sydney train system, I caught the train from Ingleburn intending to alight at Central only for the train to stop at East Hills. After waiting for about half an hour we were informed that a train further along the line had broken down. We were told that a bus would be replacing the train but after waiting for another half an hour it became clear I would never make my appointment. So, I asked the stationmaster how to get back to Ingleburn and he informed me to catch the next train south. Taking his advice I was helped on to the Silver rattler ( Sydney still has 50-year-old trains in service) which, it turned out, only travelled to Glenfield (two stops short of Ingleburn). Glenfield, however, is a station without handicap facilities (lifts or ramps) and the platform on which I had landed was not the one for the southbound train. so, what to do Mr stationmaster? Head back to East Hills of course!. Having taken that trip I waited for another train that did, eventually, get me home – catheter near to burst.

all in all about 3 1/2 hours going in circles to travel nowhere – and a rebooked MRI that could not be done until 30 April. in case you were wondering I was mostly polite to the rail staff (it’s not their fault) although I was pointlessly rude to the stationmaster who informed me that I had to return to East Hills for a second time.

Is there a lesson in all this? no. Just another pointless story that I am dumping into cyberspace.

About Author

Shane is an ethicist and theologian, Honorary Associate for the Centre of Disability Research and Policy, the University of Sydney, and Assistant Director, Policy, at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation against People with Disability. Shane is proudly disabled, and an occasional blogger on


  • Sandra Godde
    March 5, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Well Shane, you ask is there a lesson in all of this?

    Hmm…. you could have waited for the bus, proceeded to the Prince of Wales, and rocked up late for your appointment for the MRI. I wonder what would have happened then? Surely, they wouldn’t have turned you away? Maybe they would, I do not know. Curious to know though what would have happened if you made a different choice ….

    • Shane Clifton
      March 7, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      I called the hospital and there was no latitude on the time of the appointment. Such is life, gave me time to read a book

      • Sandra Godde
        March 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm

        Well that was un-graceful on their behalf, but at least you got to read 🙂 Lots of people would like more time to read … you’re a champ, keep pressing onward and upward.

  • Elly Clifton
    March 5, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Was the bus wheelchair enabled?

    I think there’s only one screw in your neck dear – well one plate with two screws.

    Frustrating waste of time, hope you had a good book to read!

    love ya

  • Kirsten Hagan
    March 5, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    It may have been a pointless trip, but it wasn’t a pointless story. I like reading your blogs Shane:)

  • Tanya Riches
    March 6, 2012 at 4:01 am

    wow. How expensive are wheelchair taxis? If the trains break down, does State Rail not have a responsibility to help those in wheelchairs to their destination? Would they pay half or something? I wonder if you should send this to your local MP to ask them to investigate.

    • Shane Clifton
      March 7, 2012 at 4:22 pm

      we actually do get some discount on taxis – up to a maximum of $30. But a one-way trip to the hospital would still cost over $100 – so $200 return. The train trip costs me $2.50! To be honest, the trains are fairly reliable

  • Tanya Riches
    March 6, 2012 at 4:02 am

    (a bit of a pipedream but I’m in research mode… I’m so sorry your day sucked Shane).


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