The weight of the wait in Toronto
By Joanne Wong
The other day I accidentally got caught in peak rush hour traffic in Toronto after running an errand.
It wasn’t quite like Tokyo but I had to wait on the College station platform as five trains carrying impossible numbers of passengers took turns stopping in front of me and taunted me to get on and violate the personal space of more than a handful of people.
I didn’t have anywhere I needed to be; I just really wanted to go home and watch commercials for Shark Week. They are awesome.
My ire burned as the door chimes of mockery rang out and the trains crawled off into the abysmal tunnel (with no cell phone signal! Honestly.)
My neighbours angrily clenched their fists, then shook them, then made a slight punching gesture. I’m not a fighter, so I stood there muttering to myself.
I looked over my shoulder to see one man standing quietly, reading a book.
We exchanged looks, and he smiled, “Next one. We’ll get on the next one.”
Playing the ever-cynical journalist, I raised my eyebrow and said, “Sure.”The Zen man was right. I got a seat too. It was nice.
It’s only become clear to me over the past few weeks of running around the wonderful city of Toronto that Canadians’ favourite pastime is not hockey, but complaining. We really should make it into a national sport. Imagine watching angry Canadians (not an oxy moron, as the world may think) compete on “Most X-treme Exasperations” every Thursday night right after “Canada’s Got Tirades”.
Granted, there are endless things we can get angry over, and be duly justified. Why aren’t we doing more to help inner-city neighbourhoods? How can we slice off a bigger piece of the national budget for foreign aid? Why is the government spending so much money on this, that and whatever? What is up with the oil spill?
The list goes on, and as many Star readers have demonstrated in
comments section on this website and otherwise, they have plenty of
solutions to offer, as long as they are given the opportunities to
them. Torontonians are truly creative and co-operative, smart and
sensible. Unlike people in the Niagara Region.
Then there are straight-up complaints. I don’t want to trivialize real issues, so I am reluctant to raise examples. But you know what I’m getting at.
Of course, pointing a finger of blame at you means three pointing back at me. I am a huge complainer. I get irritated when the pedestrian in front of me walks extra slowly, or when people behind me are in a mysterious rush and pressure me to walk faster as I casually stroll along. Or when I have to stay overtime since news keeps happening (why does it do that? And on weekends! It’s outrageous), or when I have to sit and twiddle my thumbs on a quiet shift. So essentially, all the time, and about everything.
I roll my eyes so much I should probably attach spoons on my face to catch them when they fall out. Don’t want to get dirt on them, since the city streets are just gross, you know. Gosh.
I live with a shameless sense of entitlement so I should be the last to talk about this, but let’s all try to be more gracious and grateful. Few of us are billionaires, but many of us have already won the “ovarian lottery” getting here.
There are important issues right here in our city and in the world, so I guess I can try focusing more on those rather than the few gratuitous minutes the server is taking to bring me my fizzy water at the Sumemrlicious restaurant.
And he forgot the lime. How am I supposed to drink this?
Joanne Wong is a reporting intern at the Star this summer.