Three scenarios from the past hour:
- At 10pm on a city street, I am caught up briefly in a gang of young men, screaming like young girls as they fly past me. One pushes another deliberately on top of another young man sitting on a street bench. He flinches but doesn’t react. He is of oriental appearance – Japanese to my untrained eye. Less than five seconds later, the same young men collide with a delivery man manoeuvring a trolley of soft drinks into a 7Eleven. They apologise immediately. The delivery man is of European appearance.
- On the bus home, it is routine for the bus driver to switch over when he gets to Footscray. So it is tonight. The new bus driver settles into the driver’s seat as our original driver packs up and gets off the bus. Before he alights, he stops momentarily, turns to the people in the bus, bows slightly and calls goodnight. Most of the people on the bus respond in kind. The bus driver is oriental in appearance – Vietnamese to my untrained eye.
- It is normal for people on our bus route to salute the driver when they are getting off. Some just wave (I am one of these). Some call “thank you”. Some, in a throwback to a different decade or indeed century, call “thank you driver”. All of this happens on my journey home tonight, regardless of the ethnicity of the passenger.