Saturday, February 21, 2009

Long ramble, only worth reading by me


It snowed here in the last few days. The ground, in many places, was covered with hard, dimpled ice. I walked slowly, taking short steps, with great fear of slipping. It was very cold, especially in the early morning.
I have only taken the train twice this month. I get an invigorating, brisk walk down Jarvis to Queen. I often get my favourite seat on the streetcar and, although it is long, I don't have to change. I frequently fall asleep out of sheer boredom. I must find or buy an USB cable and load some new music on the MP3 player. It is astonishing how many of my fellow travellers have them. But the cars get full quite quickly, people step on my feet or bump me with their bags. As with much poverty there is, as the song says, a persuasive undercurrent of violence. Given my status, these are my people. I'm rather below the right status on the train.
The streetcar short turned at Kipling the other night. Short turning, decided after the trip has begun is the single most annoying thing the TTC can do and I often think I should write them about it. On family day, Monday last, I had to work. I took the train to Islington, but two buses were cancelled, so I had to walk from Islington and Lakeshore. This was not so bad, as I phoned home and Matthew agreed to come and get me. As I waited I saw a most magnificently clear sun setting and lighting up the whole Lakeshore west of me in a wonderful pink/orange light. A hands down fabulous picture. As I looked at it, I heard a frightful bang and turned to see a pedestrian, who had just been hit by a car running the red light, its driver possibly blinded by the sun. The pedestrian was standing and screaming with pain. The driver was lucky not to have killed him.
Poor people, as on the streetcar, (and they are already richer than the ones who can't afford to ride), are competitive with each other. We race for premium seats, old people are frequently not offered seats, the line up to get on is as scattered as it might be in Curacao or Hong Kong, nevertheles, I smile at people and they often smile back, babies and dogs get plenty of attention and there is a sort of camaraderie that comes out of sharing the experience. By contrast, the train is much more comfortable, very fast, but socially snooty. They make me feel like a Caliban for blowing my nose or eating a sandwich. I once smiled at a woman, whom I had seen every morning and evening for a few weeks and she looked at me then and at other times as if I were a well known railway rapist. I know that is, as they say, her problem, but it now makes me awkward as we travel in the same section, both being keen to be near our exits.
I used to take the College car a relatively short distance, but the occupants may have worked at the University or in the hospitals on University Avenue and many got off for the train at Yonge to go to downtown offices, so it was only when I moved to the suburb that I noticed a whole caste difference between train riders and the streetcar crowd.
Now, at work, they would say that I only notice these things because I am English. They take great pleasure in ragging me about that and about my privileged education. Work is going supremely well. I enjoy what I do. I have carved out a kind of niche employment and we have very lively discussions both at lunch, which we have in the office together and a bit less so at the daily group meeing first thing. I work with two teams and love the variety as well as my shorter days.
Every morning I sleep walk my way to College and Yonge, wake up in Starbucks, and take the long way across the park from Sherbourne and College, just as I used to when I lived on Clinton. I lose an extra hour travelling every day. How long is this piece? Too long, and I probably should not discuss my class observations in public, but I think I will. Generally, "je m'en fiche", is working better for me than, "Perhaps I shouln't".


lakeviewer said...

Yes, indeed,long and full of possible siderides, all the people you meet, all the assumptions and the misunderstandings. If the weather wasn't keeping you off balance, you may not have been observant at all.

French Fancy said...

Daily commuting is a funny old thing. One does tend to see the same people and you almost look on them as quasi-friends. I guess if there was a problem whilst travelling everyone would begin talking and swapping experiences.

I don't see anything wrong with observing class structure on public transport - but then I'm English and you know what we're like about matters of class.

Liza said...

i have similar observations during my meetings at parent volunteer meetings. it interesting to see the different groups of moms try to get along for their children's sake.

thanks for sharing a glimpse of your day.

greetings from florida.