The Subway That Hardens People

In recent weeks, I’ve had a few experiences on the subway that have kind of clouded my belief that people are, generally, nice and good.

It also has reminded me to (a) keep surrounding myself with the good moments in life and (b) remember to keep being nice to others.

Sunday, September 6. I was en route to my friend Angela’s place. She was holding a last-minute bridal shower for a mutual friend of ours. Going north on the subway line, I kind of noticed this middle-aged man get into my subway car. Scraggly beard, stringy hair. I didn’t really pay him any mind after he got on.

At St. Clair West station, I exited through one set of subway doors to make my way towards the streetcar platform upstairs. He also exited, but through the doors at the farther end of the car.

On the platform, we were walking in opposite directions. As we got closer, I noticed he seemed to be kind of walking towards me – but he wasn’t looking at me. It wasn’t until it was too late, that I noticed he was going to deliberately walk into me. I actually tried to avoid him, and said “Excuse me”.

But he obviously didn’t care, and smashed into my right shoulder, pushing me into the station wall. The oddest thing about it all was, there wasn’t really anyone on the platform.

I turned and momentarily stopped to look at him. The guy just kept on walking. Who knows? Maybe he was on drugs. Maybe he was angry at the world and thought trying to knock me over would make him feel better. But I didn’t have the time, nor the desire to run after him. I started to jogging over to the escalators,. gift bag in hand, so I could make the St. Clair streetcar.

But the exchange shook me a little, and I’m glad I was pushed against the wall and not off the platform.

Saturday Night. I had just finished work, and was hurrying along to meet my friend Lori for Nuit Blanche.

At St. Andrew Station, I whipped out my Metropass and prepare to enter one of the reversible turnstiles, just as this older woman and her companion were approaching. (While not overdressed, they looked like they were going to attend an evening at the symphony nearby.)

Apparently only one of us was aware of the “reverse” function.

The woman and I stopped in front of the same turnstile. I deferred, and stepped to one side to let her through.

I only expected her to pass through and mumble a perfunctory thank you.

Instead, she decided to say, “It says ‘exit'”, as she clicked through the turnstile.

This made me stop and say nothing for at least a couple seconds. I was thinking, This woman actually thinks I’m an idiot!

Instead I said, “It’s also ‘enter’,” swiped my Metropass and passed through the turnstile. I didn’t even look at her when she left my sightline, and chances are she wasn’t really paying attention after her oh-so-(not-so)-smart comment, either.

Later that evening, while travelling home, I was sitting in a two-seater, iPod cranked and head buried in a NOW Magazine, when someone sat down close beside me. Because it was after midnight and there was already one drunk guy in the subway car, I didn’t want to take any chances encouraging whomever was sitting beside me by looking at them.

Several stops later, the guy – who STILL hasn’t given me so much as a microscopic buffer zone – starts nudging me. I’m thinking, who on earth IS this? I pull my head out of the news paper and turn … only to stare into the face of my work-friend Errol … who, by now, is giggling because he’s found the whole scene hilarious. My subway game face gives way and I just start laughing – at my own ridiculous behaviour, and his response to it. We must’ve been laughing for about 4 or 5 subway stops, until he eventually got off at Main.

It’s just made me realize how cold the subway – and city – must sometimes be to people who come here from other places.

If a homegrown resident can see it, I can’t even imagine what a transplanted citizen must see.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s