I disembark the 17 Birchmount at Warden Station, half-heartedly thanking the driver. I am ten minutes behind schedule but I am apparently never too late to forgo pleasantries. Ugh. I glower as I step out, knowing that my manager is gonna write me up for not arriving to work on time.
So immediately I dash up the stairs, one hand hovering above the bannister but never touching it. Everyone knows that the TTC’s facilities are infested with germs. Especially Warden Station.
An earbud popped out as I ran, so now I have Beach House in one ear and Scarborough teen vernacular in the other.
I dismiss this minor annoyance and proceed to the subway platform, anxious to board the next Westbound train.
I bolt up the escalator this time, praying that the teamwork of human and machinery will compensate for the 17’s tardiness.
A plague upon the TTC! You are disgusting. You will never find love. Useless, irredeemable, piece of—
As I ascend the steps, I hear the screech of wheels and the rough grumble of an omcoming train. It’s headed to Kipling. My train.
I leap onto the subway with a smile, slightly placated by my luck.
Three dulcet bells signal that the doors are about the close. “Next stop, Victoria Park. Victoria Park Station” the disembodied voice announces.
Leaning against the plexi-glass wall, I absentmindedly scroll for my commuting playlist on my phone. With my free hand, I grope through my backpack for my copy of The White Devil.
May as well do something productive for the next 25 minutes.
I drag myself through the play, half reading and half scolding myself for not doing this earlier. Thankfully, I am at Chester Station in no time.
Just as I’m about to start the second act, I notice a middle-aged man gawking at me.
What do you want, Horace?
He looks so mean, too. His countenance is darkened by his caterpillar brows scrunched in a bitter scowl and deflated lips curled downwards. I’m not sure if I’m imagining it, but it seems like the temperature in this car dropped several degrees.
Why do old people always do this?
Whenever a stranger looks at me for a prolonged period on the subway, I interpret it as an invitation to a staring contest. Immature? Yes. But as always, I am unapologetically childish.
He’s unrelenting so I stare back, mimicking his penetrating gaze.
Stop looking at me, you speckled, dehydrated grump.
I avert my eyes because I cannot bear this game with the old fart any longer. An ad for a forthcoming real estate conference captures my attention. Pitbull is featured as the headliner of the affair. He beams at me in his signature toothy grin. How I envy Mr. Worldwide.
I bet you he doesn’t have to take the subway.
As if the subway driver could read my mind, the subway arrives at Bloor-Yonge. I brace myself for the violent stampede to come. An assembly of passengers charge at those of us trying to get off the train. No matter how much you preach subway etiquette people just don’t care.
After crowd-surfing the throng of 9 am commuters, I reach the Southbound platform. Anxious for my phone to connect to the public Wi-Fi, I impatiently tap on the screen.
C’mon. I’ve already endured 20 minutes without the internet. I deserve this.
By the time I am redirected to the Sign-In-to-Network Page, the train pulls into the station.
I step onto the subway, grateful for its both opportune and inopportune arrival. It’s a brisk ride from Bloor to Queen. Thankfully, the Yonge-University Line is far more reliable and streamlined than the Bloor-Danforth.
Ooh, I have one bar of signal! Should I call my boss to apologize?
Nah, he’ll probably get even more mad if I draw attention to how late I am.
I lost signal already. Oh well.
The driver applies the brakes, resulting in an ear-splitting screech of the wheels. The fanfare to announce my arrival. I alight at Queen, and hastily I march to the censure that awaits me.
Still better than riding the TTC.