Toronto Driving, Experienced By An Outsider

I chose to look at my morning commute into Toronto yesterday as an experiment.  My Xtrail was in a petri dish and I was a scientist, observing the effect on it after mixing thousands of vehicles, impatient drivers and driving rain. Any other perspective would have made me blow a personal gasket. 

The drive to Toronto is usually a solid 2 hours.  I allowed 3.  It took 4!  The wonderful and patient crew of Whatever Happened To was waiting for me in our shooting location as I sent frequent updates via blackberry.  Driving was all good from London to Hamilton, but trouble began where the 403 snakes down the escarpment after passing The Linc.

From that point until Yonge Street off the Gardiner, we crawled like uncertain babies. Oh there was a stretch in the east end of Etobicoke when speeds reached the neck-snapping heights of 80 km/hr but that lasted just a couple of minutes before we were stop-and-go again. Four full hours after I left the driveway, I skittered onto the set and plopped down in the make-up chair.  Ridiculous!

There were no accidents.  There was only rain.  All it takes is one nervous Nelly or Ned to panic and slam on their brakes for the whole chain reaction to begin and then continue for the rest of the morning. I truly blame bad drivers for this unnecessary delay. 

The usual parking spots were taken and lots were full so I ventured several blocks south of my destination to a parking tower where only the very top floor had openings.  On my way out – when I was also late to my second shoot with Star TV – my credit card wasn’t accepted in the machine.  Turns out that in my haste, I had fed the gizmo a debit card on the way in.  So the attendant had to hold up me and all of the poor folks behind me, while she checked with mission control to make sure I wasn’t some sort of scammer trying to get away with 8 bucks of free parking. She was just doing her job.  But I felt like a jerk for holding up the line.  This is what happens when you’re in a hurry! Finally I was set free and my reward for staying cool was a parking spot directly across from the front doors at CITY-TV. 

The Star-TV shoot was a lot of fun.  It’s for a program that will debut in December.  (Further details will appear soon in this space!)  After that I crawled up the DVP to the 407 and grabbed my item at Ikea before heading home which took exactly two hours.

I’ve said this many times before.  I don’t know how people do this type of driving every day.  At the Real Women Live conference last week, a doctor who splits her time between Toronto and London told me she knows of several people who do that commute EVERY DAY.  I’m sorry but that’s simply nuts!  If a few drops of rain fall, everything in your routine is thrown into chaos.  I could not and would not do it.  I believe that Toronto traffic is the reason why Canadians are not allowed to carry guns.  The Dalai Lama would lose his cool in a rush hour commute like that. 

The next shoot I schedule will be for later in the day.  I will leave London at the tail end of Toronto’s morning rush and ease into the city in a more acceptable time frame.  At least, that’s the plan.