So, it's sort of almost summer-ish in Toronto and if you didn't know that then you clearly haven't tried to ride the Queen car in the last three days. We've all heard it before (and it's not as funny as people think it is but, like, whatevs) Toronto has two seasons: Winter and construction. Post-polar vortex has left us with a bevy of TTC detours and buses pretending to be streetcars and people being generally confused. In fact two nights ago I got on a 501 Queen substitute bus and the driver actually said to me "I'm sorry Miss, but I really have no idea where I'm going!"
Also, if we can look past the whole "crack smoking fake rehab" parts of the upcoming mayoral election, transit is one of the biggest issues these candidates are tackling. If the TTC is the circulatory system of this city it looks like Toronto needs some medical attention! So it seems like now is the perfect time to write about how I have a serious crush on the TTC. Before we all get our transit passes in a twist I want to remind all of my fellow Torontonians of just a few of the amazing things about the TTC!
1. It's the perfect scapegoat: If, like myself, you have a passion for winged eyeliner (that shit is hard to perfect!) and/or mostly forget where and when you are supposed to be at any given time you will inevitably be late to things.
In the last year I have rolled in to work, meetings, social engagements at least five to 10 minutes late countless times and no one has ever gotten mad at me. Pourquoi? If you roll in a little late and simply shrug and say "TTC!" every single other resident of Toronto will say "I know!" no questions asked, no stern talking to, no slap of the wrist and no wag of the finger!
When I was a teenager and I really didn't want to do something my mom would always tell me to blame her and tell my friends that my mom was being a bitch and wouldn't let me go out and no one would ever question it. The TTC is my new mom-scuse! No one will question your lateness if you are a proud TTC passenger. Everyone assumes traffic was bad, or you were short turned or your bus just never came. The fact that you changed your pants six times 'cause you weren't really feeling your outfit suddenly doesn't matter and you are free to be.
DISCLAIMER: This only works if you are five to 15 minutes late! If you are like two hours late to something you are on your own, buddy. (Also, sorry to all those people I've been late meeting! I'm really trying to work on it!)
2. Sometimes you are forced to Zen out: As much as I jest that you can blame the TTC for lateness, oftentimes it does legitimately make you late. Learning to surrender your timeline to the streetcar can be a very freeing and zen experience.
When you have spent all day rushing around the city and stressing out about stupid things and you get to Broadview and your streetcar driver literally just walks off the car at first you are like "WHAT THE ACTUAL F--K DUDE! YOU CAN'T JUST BAIL ON ME NOW!" but once that pure unadulterated anger subsides you are forced to take a minute and chill out. Read a book, call your mom, start a chat with a weird new friend, or just have an eyes open nap (we've all done it). But most of all just enjoy the moment. The TTC is literally forcing you to stop and smell the roses (or more likely the armpit of the guy next to you) so grab that chance. Eckhart Tolle would be proud of you.
3. The 1:30 a.m. Queen car is more entertaining than anything you did that night: Have you taken the streetcar post 1:30 a.m. recently? It's spectacular! The camaraderie of a bunch of tired, drunk and high people trying whole-heartedly to make it home alive is absolutely stunning.
Next time you are riding home in the wee hours of the morning look out for some of these great characters: The guy who is asleep up against one of the poles, the crying girl, the couple fight, the dude with the wrong end of an unlit cigarette dangling from his mouth, the 50-year-old who has seen some shit in his/her life, the completely lost gang of teens, the girls scarfing down poutine and screaming (if you see these girls it's probably me and my friend Emily so say hey to us!). Emily once said someone should film the 1:30 501 and run it as a TTC commercial with the caption "aren't you glad these people didn't drive home" that shit saves lives, makes new friendships and leads to some great war stories.
4. You can meet some sweet new friends: My roommate has this job where she has to get up at the butt crack of dawn every single day. Now, I don't mean the freelance blog writer crack of dawn, which is like 8:15, I mean the seriously butt crack of dawn like 4:45 a.m. Gross. I know. She's an animal. She has so many adorable stories of all of her similarly hard-working and presumably miserable transit buddies. Like the woman who grabs her a metro and gives it to her every morning, or the guy who gets confused when her schedule changes ("what are you doing here, it's a Friday!") and the driver who keeps his bike on the car with him and takes up five seats with it.
By virtue of being Canadian we are a friendly sociable crowd so if you've had a shit day there's always some toddler to eavesdrop on, or cute dude to glance at, or old lady to help lift their grocery cart. You can't get that in a car by yourself unless you are having some sort of psychotic break. We've all seen enough Internet beat poetry to know that making real life connections -- not just Facebook, Twitter and Tinder connections -- is important. So put away your phone and look around at the captive audience you have around you. Make a commitment-free one time friendship with someone. You won't regret it!
5. It's always coming: One of my best friends is the least patient guy I've ever met. Like if he exits his house and there isn't a streetcar waiting immediately outside of his doorway he's pretty mad. If anyone were going to have an ulcer at the age of 22 it would be this guy. Recently he told me he was waiting at a streetcar stop with a new immigrant family and he was (as per usually) visibly pissed off at the length of time he was waiting for his ride. A minute later the father of this new Canadian family tapped him on the shoulder and said "It's OK, it's coming! Where I'm from it doesn't always come. Here it is always coming!" How great is that? It may be late, it may be REALLY late, but it's always coming. Take solace in that. No matter where you are in this city someone in a burgundy coat will eventually come and pick you up. That's pretty boss, you guys!
Next time you check the RocketMan app and it says you have to wait 26 minutes for the next streetcar remember all of these wonderful things! It may not be perfect (far from it) but none of us is! PLUS: Have you seen those new streetcars? They look like they are from the future! Sometimes when they pass I'm like "Doc, did we just hop out of our Delorean? 'cause that shit is dope!" I know we all love to hate the TTC but I think it's a more interesting choice to love the TTC.
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