Prichard is the last guy who should be pedaling $50 billion transit plan to us plebes
Somebody tweeted out today that Metrolinx chairman Rob Prichard arrived at a Monday meeting of the transit coordinating agency on a bicycle.
If it is true (and I keep thinking the tweet must have been a joke), there must have been a lot of snickering at such absurd theatre.
I guess it had something to do with Bike To Work Day, but Prichard tootling up on a bike, pretending to be a regular guy, well, what a cheesy farce.
I didn’t know they taught cycling to the Little Lord Fauntleroys at Yale.
What are they thinking at Metrolinx, producing a swell like Prichard to tell us working stiffs we’ll have to shell out at least $477 per household, per year, to get the $50 billion for its Big Move transit plan?
Surely he is better suited to speak for the discerning owners of Mercedes and Bentleys, who want the rest of us to get off their roads, so the drive to Lake Rousseau isn’t quite so tedious.
Allow me to tell you a story about John Robert Stobo Prichard, Officer, Order of Canada, former president of U of T, former president and chief operating officer of Torstar Corp., and to the manor born.
As Torstar boss, Prichard occasionally had business in The Star building at One Yonge St., where he was eventually undone by overplaying his hand, as is often the case with chaps who are too clever by half.
For those not familiar with the Star building, a short laneway leads from Yonge to a small parking lot for photographers on the left, and to a steep ramp on the right that runs down to a more exclusive underground parking area.
About seven years ago, I pulled into the laneway and was waiting for the staff parking gate to open when a car came firing up the ramp from the underground parking, turned sharply and came within a few inches of smashing into mine.
It was startling, to say the least. My first reaction was, what’s the hurry, buddy? You couldn’t see what was at the top of the ramp. You’re lucky you didn’t run someone down.
I locked eyes with the driver and felt like mouthing the word “asshole,” so he could lip-read it, until I realized it was Prichard. By then, the gate had lifted to allow me into the parking lot, but his car, a gorgeous Mercedes convertible with the top down, was in the way.
I looked at him, pointed at the gate, shrugged and opened my hands, as if to say, “if you back up, I can pull in, and you’ll be on your way.”
He looked at me, raised his hand and pointed toward the street behind me, as if to say, “back out.”
I couldn’t believe it. He only had to back up two feet to let me into the parking lot. I pointed to the entrance and shrugged again, as if to say, “c’mon man, do the right thing.”
Prichard once more pointed a long patrician finger at the street, followed by a dismissive wave in the same direction.
It was decision time. I wanted to walk over to his luxurious auto, lean in so close that I could smell the leather seats and say, “move this f…in’ car or I’ll drag you out and move it myself.”
There was a time when it would absolutely have played out that way, which is why I’m fixing potholes and burned out street lights, instead of frying bigger fish.
I decided to do it his way, thinking I’d be out of a job if I didn’t. I put my car in reverse and backed out across the busy sidewalk, giving pedestrians an “excuse me” look over my shoulder, while backing all the way into the street.
Prichard eased his car out of the laneway and onto Yonge, but not before offering me a
rather pleased smirk as we passed.
Along the way, he messed with another guy at the Star. The wrong guy.
I’m still here. Prichard is long gone.
Perhaps you will understand why I think his bicycle is only a prop, and why he is the last guy who should be pedaling a $50 billion transit plan to the public.