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Monday, 2 February 2015

The People I Met: Mr Happy Face

When I first arrived in Melbourne, in July 2013, my first place of abode was a shared-house in South Morang, a suburb 39 km away from City. It was the only place I could afford at that time, and whose owner was kind enough to keep the room for me for 6 months without requiring me to pay a deposit prior my arrival. Phoebe is her name. The rent was $400 per month with shared bills. Although I got my own room, and it was spacey enough for me, I shared the house with three other housemates: Phoebe herself, her husband, Johny, and her cousin, Christina, and a couple months later a dog, JJ. They are all just about my age and very nice people. I was lucky enough to have met them.

I liked living in that suburb. Despite the dullness, especially during winter, and the scarcity of stores and restaurants, I loved the quietness of the neighbourhood and its safety. The road will lead you to a scenic drive if you're driving to the suburb. And if you walk on the street you could see rabbits and even kangaroos deep in the park. But as much as I loved living there, the commuting to City and back was such a pain in the arse. The only public transport available from there to City is Metro Train, which takes nigh on one hour ride. My university is in City and everyday I had to ride on the train, but before I had to catch a bus that would take me to the train station. I used to spend nearly two hours just to commute to City and another two hours back. I often received a cringe from people on their faces whenever I told them I lived in South Morang, as if they could imagine how hard it must be for me to commute back and forth. It was, indeed, hard.

And that's where I met Mr Happy Face.

Mr Happy Face. That's what I call him as we were never exchanging names officially. He looks like a middle-aged man with rounded face and wearing a glasses. Well, the reason I call him Mr Happy Face is because his face always looks so happy, as if he was born with a smile permanently plastered to his face. He has this comical expression on his face that seems to cheer people up. He works at the train station and his job is to attend the customers with their enquiries. That's how I met him. Whenever I saw it was him behind the glassed-window I'd always prefer to come to him to top up my Myki card instead of using the self-service booth. As always, he would greet me with his genuine smile and followed by "How are you? Going to work or Uni?". We would converse briefly about weather or passing news on each other before I ran down to the platform to catch my train.

After a couple of months we have become more than strangers but less than friends to each other. Our conversation was now extended to my study, my future plan, our jobs and some more chit-chats. In one occasion we were talking about finding a job and he encouraged me to keep applying and don't give up. "Keep applying and apply and apply and some day you may land a job. It might not be the job that you want but it's a start. That's how I got this job," so he said. In some days I caught him working night shifts as I got back from City. So I would approach him and talk to him a bit while waiting for my bus. He would comment on my tiring-face and suggest a good rest and I would ask him how his day had been. He told me once about some grumpy customers and I drew a sympathetic smile, acknowledging him that I understand. Then I'd bid him goodnight as my bus arrived.

On my last day before moving to Preston, my current place, I saw him one last time. It was late at night as I disembarked the train and climbed the stairs to the station when I saw him working. Knowing that it could be the last time I see him, I went to say hi. We chatted a bit about our dats as usual before I told him that I'd be moving out. When I eventually did he told me that it was such a good idea to move to a suburb that is closer to City. That night he told me about some of the customers, the regulars, they moved out from South Morang a few years ago and then when they can afford it, they bought a house in South Morang and moved back in. Some of them got married and moved in with their spouse. 

"Maybe one day you can come back here. You'll graduate, find a job and buy a house here," he told me, cheerfully. 

I chuckled. "Yeah, if I can find a proper job after graduate."

"I believe you can. I can see it in you. You're a hardworker." He sounded so convincing. And then added, "Like I've told you before, keep applying and apply and apply."

At that moment I couldn't help but thinking how can he be so sure? How can he even said he believed in me, while I didn't--don't--myself? Was it the impression he got from our short talks? "Yeah. Hopefully," was the only thing I managed to say. 

It's been almost one year since our last meeting and I still can remember it clearly. I always think about it whenever I'm feeling down or desperate or feeling like I have hit a dead end. If he believed that I can do it, then I must believe in myself, too, that I can do it. It's some kind of a mojo I always tell myself when I feel like giving up. The magic word is believe in myself. It's one thing that I need to practice on, I know. I hardly believe in myself, in my capabilities. But I'm working on it, really. 

If you have the same problem as me, well... you're pretty much welcome to use the mojo like I do to myself. 

Believe. In. Myself. 
Believe. In. Yourself.

Until next post. 

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