I hadn’t been on the Toronto subway system for a few months.
I really wanted to let out a “moo” as I squished into the car at Union Station, having just made it before the doors closed thanks to an irritating woman who was unaware of the “stand right, walk left” rule that guides all transit escalators. She “stood middle” and left no room to get around her short of clubbing her with my bag, which I refrained from doing. Obviously. Or I’d be writing this from jail.
My top challenge was to keep all three bags – purse, overnight bag and big tote – to myself. I believe I may have lightly whacked a man standing behind me with my Miche bag, but when I turned to apologize his eyes were closed as he rocked to a beat from his Ipod.
It’s an interesting exercise to see this microcosm of big city life anew, with an outsider’s eyes. As soon as seats became available at various stops, young able-bodied men scrambled to fill them, ignoring the plights of older women. But I was most fascinated by the 20-something woman who was eating a juicy wrap as we rolled.
Did she really not have a more sanitary or private place in which to unveil her stinky sandwich? She was a tiny thing, well dressed, reading a book, squished into the corner of a seat by two bigger riders. But crushed as she was, she was still able to raise a bony arm to lift that food to her mouth with regularity. It fascinated me! I cannot think of a situation that would cause me to eat – anything – on a subway train. And yet there she was, nonplussed, enjoying her tuna-salad with extra mayo on whole wheat. Perhaps enjoying isn’t the right word. She just looked like she was carrying out a task, like crafting a memo or clipping her nails. (Another activity I have witnessed on the TTC.) She was fuelling up, with strangers in her space with farts and sneezes and coughing and jostling all within certain germ-spreading proximity. Gross.
It was a lot like watching an unfamiliar species in a petri dish. Because this isn’t a person I could relate to. This one simple activity, eating on the subway, proved it. However, there is so much that goes on underground that I don’t understand. And I certainly don’t miss it.