15 Thoughts Commuters Have on a Daily Basis

In no particular order of frequency…

Do mind readers walk among us? What if there is one on this train with me right now? I shouldn’t feel embarrassed. They’re probably like gynaecologists: they’ve seen it all, so nothing shocks them. But maybe if I think of something really weird in, like, caps lock or word art or something, one of them will flinch and break their cover. Okay. One, two, three…GOAT PORN.

Oh my gosh. Did I just fart? I can’t tell if that was the kind that only makes a noise in your body or in the world. I’ve got to stop listening to my music so loud, or else I’ll never be able to tell.

I’m gonna be so late.

Dammit. That’s the third person I’ve seen with an umbrella. It’s definitely going to rain today. I’ve really got to start checking my weather app before I leave the house.

My reflection always looks so beautiful in the train windows. It’s like an Instagram filter or something. Why can’t I look this way in real life?

These TTC operators love each other so much. Like they stop and chat with each other as they’re switching crews, and even on the buses the drivers wave to each other as they pass by. When do they even get a chance to get to know each other? I wonder if they’ve been to each other’s houses. It’s like a movie. I bet they’ve even shared a loss or something, and they all went to the guy’s funeral and pointed at his coffin as they walked by. Like in that movie Remember the Titans. Minus the football. And the racism.

My metropass is like my car keys.

“Thank you for riding the Rocket”? What rocket?! I’ve met nonagenarians who move faster.

I could conceive a baby, carry it to term, give birth to it, and then name it in the time it takes to get from Eglinton to Lawrence Station.

YES! This driver has a sleeve. Drivers with sleeve tattoos drive with purpose. These guys turn a regular bus into an express bus. I might actually get to work on time.

Delay? Where? What did he say? Can lessons on how to properly talk into a speaker be incorporated into the TTC training manual?

I’ll begin reviewing these notes starting from the next stop.

We should replace racism, sexism – all of the negative “isms” – with pure, unadulterated hatred towards people who chew with their mouths open.

I hope this couple knows I’m just staring at them because I love them. #SwirlNation #SwirlNation #SwirlNation

Is my music too loud?

TTC Tales

Bitching about the TTC is a bonding ritual among Toronto commuters. Nothing joins two strangers at a bus stop quite like a snarky comment about the system. The TTC is the third-largest transit system in North America (after New York City and Mexico City) so clearly enough people are using it. But whether those people are entirely satisfied is another matter altogether.

Amil rapped, “How we gonna get around on your bus pass?” Good question. With over 150 bus and streetcar routes and a subway system comprising of 69 stops that get you from one end of the city to the other for three bucks some would say quite well, thank you very much. Yes, yes, the rest would impatiently reply, breadth is all well and good but how about speed?

According to an investigation undertaken by Global News, there were an average seven hours lost per week due to subway delays in 2013. Of course, the individual delays themselves are only a few minutes or so, but when you have someplace to be, that can feel like ages. If anything, it is plenty of time for your rage to build as it did with a passenger I shared the train with a while back back who shouted “Yeah, I bet you are!” to the speaker after it apologized yet again for the inconvenience.

The top ten reasons for delays included false passenger assistance alarms, an unauthorized person at track level, door problems, and disorderly passengers. The number one reason: illness or injury, leaving commuters with conflicting emotions of both sympathy and frustration. And it isn’t only longer than normal travel times that have commuters asking “to ride or not to ride”. For instance, residents in certain underserviced areas like Scarborough have given up with the TTC altogether and opted to start driving instead. And with all the political back-and-forth when it comes to transit, people are losing patience.

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Nothing like bumper to bumper traffic to make you wish you’d kept hitting snooze. Photo: Neya Abdi/Toronto Discursive

Still, it’s not all rainy days and out of service buses. Third- and fourth-year Glendon students may have noticed that more 124 Sunnybrook buses have been added to busy weekday mornings. Much better than a couple years ago when two buses were expected to service a route containing a university and a hospital during rush hour. It’s a small step, but it’s movement, and it’s a little proof that if you curse loud enough (or write an email, most likely) an administrator somewhere will feel badly for all the nurses and liberal arts students forced to bump and grind at 9AM.

And then there are the glorious moments you could never get in a car. The other day a woman interrupted her conversation with herself to lean in and pick a piece of lint off my pants. And I will never forget the exhausted man with plaster all over his hands who leaned in and told me, “You smell good. You got that classy scent.” He has my heart.

Originally published in Pro Tem, October 2014