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On the Road – Coke for Breakfast, Driver of the Year, IQ Tests and More

December 16, 2019

Highlights and pictures from another voyage to the universe’s center:

0. The occasion was the 12th anniversary of the passing of dear friend Carli Ward, who loved trains. Yes, it has been that long.

1. I know it was early on a Sunday morning, but there were only two cars in the drive-thru at the Tim Hortons I passed on the way to the bus. No wonder they’re feeling the pinch and having to stoop to offering a rewards program.

2. While waiting for the bus at Fairview Mall, I watched with amusement as someone was using a Bobcat to fill up a dump truck with salt, only stopping when he couldn’t possibly get another grain into the back before it overflowed. The dump truck proceeded to drive up and down the empty lot, covering every square inch with salt as the Bobcat driver continued to fill up buckets. It was a little slippery out, but it was just over the freezing mark with a small layer of wet slush on the ground.

3. Already on board the Burlington-bound bus I caught was a couple coming from the Falls who were sharing a Coke, passing the bottle across the aisle. I never figured Coke to be a breakfast drink, but to each his or her own.

As the bus was seven or eight minutes late, the couple was particularly relieved when we pulled into the Burlington GO station in more than enough time to catch the Lakeshore West train, calling the driver the “Driver of the Year” for his efforts. Yet they certainly weren’t passengers of the year as they eagerly sprang to their feet as soon as the bus came to a stop to block the rest of us from getting off while they dragged their luggage down from the over-the-wheel compartment right by the door.

4. I understand the concept behind auto-flush toilets in public washrooms, but the toilet flushed five times when I was doing my business at Burlington. Talk about wasteful.

5. They’ve got a fancy new display at the Burlington GO station. It would be even nicer if they also put the bus times up there as well. You know, the way they do at Union.

6. Also new at Burlington was another kiosk where you can rent a charger for an arm and a leg instead of using one of the many free outlets located throughout the station. As I’ve said before, it’s really an IQ test.

7. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw “Merry Christmas” on the displays of both Burlington Transit and GO buses. The province might soon have to declare a public health emergency with all the liberals being triggered.

8. Going through Oakville, I noticed the contents of a Salvation Army donation bin strewn across the parking lot. Someone sure did make himself at home at the “Donor Welcome Center.”

9. Speaking of making yourself at home . . .

Later, this woman took off her boots and was playing with her feet while listening to music so loud it must have been causing her some serious ear damage.

10. In between two tracts of low-cost housing near the Clarkson stop is a new development featuring condos starting at $500,000. I know it’s a convenient location near a GO stop and in Mississauga, but you’re right along a major rail line and that low-cost housing isn’t exactly going to do much for your property value. Not a good real-estate investment if you ask me.

11. On the train was an ad from a vitamin company with the slogan, “1 in 5 people haven’t washed their hands today.” Well, that’s a hell of a lot better ratio than in the Old Country, where, if you’re lucky, one in five will have washed their hands.

12. Seated across from me at Union was a bum with a serious mental impairment carrying all his worldly belongings in a bright green sack. During the little conversation he was having with himself, he bent his head forward, showing off the haircut he got with a weed wacker.

13. Leaving Union, I spotted another bum feeling his way through a garbage bin looking for buried treasure while openly bemoaning how little cash he has. Needless to say, I didn’t take him up on his not-so-subtle hint to enhance his portfolio.

14. You can tell it’s a Sunday when you actually have to wait a few minutes for the #1 line.

15. Some advertising executives in Spain think this is going to help sell wine . . .

16. On the #2 line, an Asian woman seated at the end of the car had her eyes closed while muttering something. It reminded me of the scene in Slap Shot when “Killer” Carlson was at the bench with his eyes closed repeating, “one with the universe.”

17. Another bike repair station, this time provided by TTC at the Castle Frank station. There was also a free umbrella perched on the pump.

18. Also at the Castle Frank station was a free bagel. Sadly, I wasn’t hungry.

19. Well, that’s one way to discourage trespassers . . .

20. Pigeons galore:

21. Free needle on Parliament Street:

22. I think more chickens are actually made at nearby Riverdale Farm than here at this chicken “factory”:

Chickens like these, for instance:

23. As happy as a pig in . . .

24. I feel for the kid . . .

25. Parking fail:

26. At the corner of Parliament and Carlton was a cyclist headed downhill who was anxious to beat an aging green light that had turned yellow while she was in the intersection. Did I mention she wasn’t wearing a helmet and was going across bumpy streetcar tracks? As I’ve said before, take your own safety as seriously as you expect others to.

27. Get on board the “chew-chew” . . .

28. The sky needs cleaning too . . .

29. The Yonge Street Hilton . . .

30. Also spotted on Yonge Street was a woman dressed in a fur-lined parka whose face was as red as Rudolph’s nose. Maybe if she actually put up her hood . . .

31. In a familiar storyline, farther down Yonge was a bum asking passers-by for change in between puffs on his cigarette. If you’ve got money for smokes . . .

32. Scenes at College Park:

 

33. In the washroom at Eaton Center was a bum peeling open and eating an orange while at the sink. Um, there are plenty of tables available out in the food court.

34. Seated across from me in the Eaton Center food court was an 18-year-old girl with a large turquoise ponytail and an artificially cheery permagrin who was, shall we say, a little simple. Easily amused, her favorite word was “like” and thought something her companion said was “so cool.” The seeds of our next generation of leaders.

35. It was awfully trusting of a woman with her young son to leave me, a perfect stranger, with her coat, glasses and other personal belongings, including a table full of food, while she took off to take the kid to the washroom. Then again, this isn’t the Old Country.

36. Scenes inside Eaton Center:

 

37. The tree at Nathan Phillips Square:

38. Also at Nathan Phillips Square was a Christmas market featuring a vendor selling hot chocolate and hot apple cider for the princely sum of $5 and another selling a hangover patch. “Ain’t nobody got time for a hangover,” the sign said. Well, if you don’t overindulge in LCBO products, you won’t have that problem.

39. In addition to the gouging for hot chocolate and apple cider, they wanted $10 for a serving of mac’n’cheese at Pusateri’s in the Saks food hall. $14 if you wanted chicken or pig with it. Call me a cheap ex-Winnipegger, but I’m not paying upwards of $10 for jazzed-up Kraft Dinner, even if I was inclined to want it at any price.

40. I made my way through the underground walkway from Eaton Center to Union without needing a map. I am getting around like a local.

41. The skating rink on Front Street right outside Union Station:

42. I hope the guy who dropped his wallet in the washroom at Union Station got it back.

43. Standing on the opposite side of the tracks while waiting for my Lakeshore West train was a guy wearing a Winnipeg toque. That place does keep following me around.

44. Even though there was plenty of space in the Burlington GO station, one guy decided to stand right in front of the Presto machine next to the stairway leading down to the tunnel to do his texting. It takes all kinds.

45. A noisy kid with a Falls-bound family who got on at Stoney Creek kept wanting to lick his fingers and wipe them on the window, much to the consternation of his mother, who was getting quite fed up with the youngster. Moral of the story: Wash your hands when you get off a bus or train.

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