To a large part of Canada, Toronto is seen as a place filled with rude, cold-hearted, selfish people. It's a place where no pleasantries are exchanged. It's a place to live only if loneliness and rat races make you happy. Its sprawling cityscape and adjacent suburban wasteland are viewed as desecrations to the environment. It's a canker desperately trying to play catch up to New York City but failing miserably. It's a boil on the otherwise upstanding reputation of Canada.
I agree with every fiery postulation about the city. And that's why I love it and call Toronto my home.
I feel like apologizing to all the citizens of all the other provinces every time I hear a visiting person make a crack about how people in Toronto will actually scowl at you when you pass them in the streets. That was probably me out on one of my daily strolls. Sorry, but it's probably because you were in my way.
Now I realize the population density of Toronto doesn't come close to places like New Delhi, Tokyo or New York, but considering Canada is the second largest country in the world with almost 10-million square kilometres and only 34-million people to nest in it, the Greater Toronto Area's 5.5-million populace can seem to other Canadians like an overflowing animal cage. Born and raised in Toronto, I have watched the population rise and it certainly feels that way.
But we all have to live with one another and all are welcome. I'm proud of the fact that Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world per capita with no caustic racial divides past the usual civilized tension. So if people scowl and aren't the most outgoing and friendly, instead of taking it as an insult and waylaying the entire city, maybe it can be viewed as nothing more than a defensive tactic.
With Toronto's growing population, I've naturally acquired a set of new pet peeves. One of them being that I can't stand it when people stand in doorways. Doorways are meant to be passed through. When you pass through a doorway, chances are there's another person right behind ready to do the same thing. The same can be said of standing at the bottom of escalators. If you just stand there, you block everybody's path and are suddenly barring all from going forth and living the rest of their lives.
Over the years I have quietly contained my anger every time one of these self-absorbed morons obstructs my path. I usually just squeak out an "excuse me" in my politest Canadianese and the person always moves aside, sometimes apologetic, which is nice, but usually still oblivious and operating on a robotic need to avoid further confrontation.
We've all seen these dunces, absorbed in their thoughts and unable to see the people inhabiting the world around them. They are the centre of their own universe except their universe is the size of a Frisbee filled with question marks and deer in headlights.
There needs to be drastic steps taken to stop this foolish behaviour.
When someone is caught standing in any publicly used doorway, the person behind them should be allowed to legally push them in order to make them move. The push should be firm but light. Think of it as the urban version of a herding dog driving the dumb cattle over rugged topography. A push is all you need in order to allow people to keep living their vibrant lives. Holding folks back by foolishly, albeit unwittingly, blocking a doorway keeps others at a standstill and that should be punishable.
Sure, if actually implemented there will be the tendency for people to push harder than permitted. Some will take advantage of the "push allowance" and turn it into more of a "shove" or a "wallop" than the light tap that I'm suggesting, but so be it. As the overused adage goes -- "you snooze, you lose." Fights will break out, but those would be understandable transitionary repercussions and most likely temporary until we settle back into our polite Canadian dispositions.
Additionally, the push rule couldn't be applied to the elderly or small children. That could get ugly. But for everyone else... get out of people's way and make yourself scarce. In other words, "Beat It, Kid," which would become the city's new slogan.
I don't mean this to be sanctioned and enforced in any other Canadian city besides Toronto. Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Halifax and Saskatoon can keep being the friendly and perfectly populated metropolitan areas they've always been. But in order to match the rude reputation that our fair streets of Toronto has acquired there needs to be some follow through, so I say push.
Don't push hard, just push. Poke, too.
An example of Danko's forthcoming "Sidewalk" policy: