It’s Thursday–Thursday’s commute to school is always the worst. Time to get cozy with strangers. It’s not just a little bit cozy either, it’s a lot a bit. Every Thursday, I’m pressed up against strangers; head to head, back to back, butt to butt, and leg to to leg. I swear the TTC is going to make Cuddle Buddies go out of business. Why would you pay for a stranger to cuddle with you when you can hop on the TTC for $3.25, get where you need to go, and get cuddled by more strangers then you can count?
The TTC goes above and beyond public transit. It really does. Did you know that it’s educational too? Everyday on the TTC, especially on Thursdays, I learn about our societal flaws. And the way I see it, a lot of them stem from bad child rearing.
From a young age children are taught that they are special. These same children turn into adults who think that they are special, who turn into passengers on the TTC who think that they are special. So special, that they don’t think that they have to follow the rules.
On Thursdays, they stand on the back steps of the streetcar. There’s nowhere else to go–its full.
“Get off the back steps,” the driver yells, “We are not moving until everyone gets off the back steps!”
But no one moves. They think that somehow they’re too special to wait for the next streetcar. So special that the sensor on the step won’t detect their weight.
Sometimes we’re at one stop for five minutes. We don’t move an inch for five whole minutes. The driver yells, “Get off the back steps” over and over again. His voice turns into a broken record, looping round and round.
I want to tell those passengers on the steps that they’re not that special–no one is.
We also teach our children that life is fair. That if we dream hard enough we’ll get whatever we want. It makes for bratty children and even brattier adults who think that they can walk all over their fellow TTC passengers. They can’t though; there’s not enough room. So, instead they throw adult tantrums.
A middle aged man steps on up through the back doors. He manages to squish himself off the steps. “People just need to make some fucking room,” he states aggressively, “There’s plenty of room they just need to make some fucking space.”
“Get off the back steps,” the driver reminds everyone. The five or so people standing on the steps don’t budge. There’s only one direction to go and that’s off. The guy who squished himself off the steps decides that this just isn’t fair. Those five people deserve to ride too. “They’d be able to get off if people would just make some fucking room. Come on people make some fucking space,” He shouts.
At the next stop lots of people get off and a then a whole lot more get on. Everyone shifts around like puzzle pieces trying to fit. The guy who keeps saying “fucking space” somehow manages to squish himself right next to me. He watches as people struggle to fit inside our human puzzle.
“If people removed their napsacks it’d make more space.” He says softly. He doesn’t seem angry anymore, just dejected. Some people preach religion and others preach space.
On TTC Thursday, I also learn that people really do crack under stress.
An old man and a British lady stand by the doors. The streetcar lurches to a halt. People, eager to become passengers, flood in through the now open back doors.
“Did you need to get off?” The woman asks the old man in a thick English accent. He doesn’t answer, so she decides for him: he needs to get off.
“Excuse me” She says to the people climbing aboard, “Can you please let this gentleman get off?”
She is completely and utterly ignored, “Excuse me this gentleman needs to get off,” She tries again, louder this time but with the same result.
“What? No one cares, really?This is freaking unbelievable!” She rants.
Finally no more people need to get on. The woman turns back towards the old man, “You can get off now” she says gently.
He smiles and shakes his head no. He doesn’t need to get off. “Oh my god” She gasps horrified, “I need to move away from these doors.”
And that’s TTC Thursday.