I exit onto the inevitably crowded platform, like a horse jolting from its holding pen. I walk with purpose up the stairs, playing dodgem cars with every other dreary-eyed student. My sight is blinkered, my hearing thoroughly censored by the angsty, MySpace-circa-2004 tune playing through my earphones.
Today is a smooth run. My Opal card is recognised by the machine despite the proximity of an RFID-chipped student card, and the lack of traffic means I can cross the street almost immediately.
I manage a quick time-check at the beginning of the boardwalk: seven minutes. I’m making good pace.
When I check my stopwatch again at Eastern Avenue Auditorium, it reads 12 minutes and 43 seconds exactly. Good time, better than the 16 minutes the day before (which I blamed on the rain).
I repeat this process three more times to obtain a Totally Objective And Scientific Average for the trip commonly known as the “Redfern Run”, the walk from Redfern Station to Eastern Avenue, of 14 minutes and 29 seconds (including weather anomalies).
Ask any regular Redfern Runner and they will tell you the trip takes a different amount of time; walkers’ estimates range from five minutes to half an hour. My theory? It all has to do with your outlook on life.
And thus begins my quest to determine, with complete accuracy, the psychological state of any individual based on one single question: “How long do you estimate the walk from Redfern to Eastern Avenue Auditorium to be?”
EXHIBIT A: Philomena*
Time estimated: “Umm…five minutes?”
Analysis: Overenthusiastic, overly optimis- tic, overachiever Philomena. After I explain to her that five minutes is the time needed to walk from Redfern station to Oz Turk Jr., her eyes widen in shock as she realises, too late, the reason for her consistent tardiness to her 10am English tutorial.
EXHIBIT B: Aurelien
Time estimated: “25 minutes, it’s my daily cardio.”
Analysis: Unclear whether Aurelien is pessimistic or simply the victim of time dilation due to his faster-than-light-speed walking pace. Upon careful considera- tion, I decide that it’s a combination of the former, and the fact that Aurelien has never walked from Redfern to University.
EXHIBIT C: Maurice
Time estimated: “13 minutes.”
Analysis: Bingo. A seasoned Redfern walker. His response, only 17 seconds off the Objectively and Scientifically Accurate Average leaves me curious as to whether he, too, has undertaken the same traumatising yet enlightening research that I have.
*All names changed to protect these individuals and/or their embarrassing gaffes.