The start is always the hardest part. That is probably why they invented alarm clocks and coffee. The alarm clocks get me out of bed but I maintain a zombie-like posture until I’ve had that first cup. It’s a ritual, sparked by an electronic gadget that automatically conceives a cup of coffee every morning at the same time. Like clockwork.
The second part is finding your way around. This isn’t all that easy but it’s assisted by the TTC. It’s a powerfully liberating concept: the ability to get from any one corner of the city to another on a single ticket. Of course, this may require traversing multiple subway lines, rapid transit trains, street cars and buses, but it’s possible. And it’s a beautiful thing.
Riding through the system doesn’t come without its quirks. I have an entire list of pet peeves. People complain about the “stand left, walk right” rule that some people just can’t seem to follow, but my complaints are based on the unwritten rules that no one seems to know.
What do you do the moment you get off an escalator? The wrong answer is stand around thinking about what your next move should be. The correct answer is you get the hell out of the way. See, the thing is that there are other people behind you, and while an escalator might look like a normal staircase, it moves on its own. So people can’t just stop on an escalator while you take all the time to decide your next steps. The escalator will eventually push the people behind you right into you. This inconveniences them more than it inconveniences you. So get out of the way immediately.
Another thing that bothers me is that lack of dignity with which people manoeuvre around trains. People will complain about letting people out before you try and get inside the subway car. Yes, we should do that. But also, once we’ve gotten inside can we move around with just a little grace? Instead, people race towards seats as if there were nuggets of gold on them. Like a gold rush. Calm down and relax. It’s not the end of the world if you fail to capture a seat. If you’re of the few who’s not rushing to find an empty seat, you’re pin-balled around by all the other moving parts. So, little old ladies who push people out of the way to get to a seat, chill out a little. I wasn’t going to take the seat anyway.
I appreciate that you are in a hurry, I really do. So when the chimes that indicate that the subway car doors are about to close start to sound, I understand why you run towards the doors. You don’t want to miss this train and have to wait for the next one. I get it. But let’s revisit the escalator rule, if you’re running towards the doors it’s likely that there are other people behind you that are also in the same hurry that you’re in. So don’t just pause once you get into the train. Do your celebratory pause after you get out of the way.
Quirks aside, do you know what happens when you fall asleep standing up? Your body relaxes and you start to fall towards the ground. Similar to how an unconscious person would fall. Your knees give out and start to bend as your upper body weight pushes you down. Unless you’re really out of it you don’t actually fall all the way down. Somewhere in the middle you start to wake up and resist gravity’s pull. I wouldn’t happen to know this otherwise, but it’s just another lesson you learn while riding the rocket.
The coffee machine was broken that day and I hadn’t had my morning starter cup. I was in a hurry, so stopping at Timmy’s wasn’t an option. I was past the subway rush and the RT was practically empty. I dozed off for the 15 minute ride to Kennedy. On a seat, no less. Kennedy wasn’t exactly packed but I didn’t feel like sitting down anyway, and there was plenty room to stand. I stood on the side where the doors stay shut, this way you get to lean on something and you’re not blocking anyone’s path. But you have to be careful when you start off at Kennedy, because at Warden you have to switch sides. The doors start opening from the opposite side.
Warden came and I made my switch. A couple of doors away two ladies were standing near the doors as well, they didn’t make the switch. A man stood on the opposite doors of the ladies. All with coffee cups in hand.
At the next stop the doors opened where the ladies were standing and they were getting in the way of incoming and outgoing commuters. The ladies stood their ground and continued standing at the doors. The man on the opposite side suggested that they move elsewhere, but they ignored him and continued chatting. A few more stops and still the same thing, the ladies were still at the doors and people were having to manoeuvre themselves around them.
The man on the other side persisted with advising the ladies to stand in a different location, but the ladies would have none of it. I heard a brief “mind your own business” bit even from a few doors away. I’m not exactly sure what words were exchanged but at the next stop one of the ladies got right up in the man’s face. Everyone else in the subway car was trying to ignore the show and were indeed trying to “mind their own business”.
The lady got progressively louder, as did the man. She was still right up in his face and he kept telling her to back off. Now it was her that was persistent. The man pushed the lady back with both his hands, separating her from the space around his face. In that very moment, in what seemed like an instant gut reaction, the lady threw her coffee on the man’s face.
The man, in what seemed like an instant gut reaction, pushed the lady against the doors and started choking her. It all happened so very fast. From where I was standing I couldn’t see clearly, but it seemed like there was kicking involved as well, from both parties. A few other men around the incident quickly started pull the man off the lady. We had almost approached the next stop and someone pressed the emergency yellow strip.
The doors opened and TTC personnel got involved.
“I’m going to press charges!!!” screamed the lady.
“So am I!” replied the man, “Bitch threw hot coffee in my face!”
The three of them walked away with the people in uniform and the train was on its way.
All of a sudden I wasn’t missing that cup of coffee anymore, not so much.