The Garden City Refugee

Musings from around the Niagara Region and elsewhere

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On the Road – Whistling in the Can, Fishing for Burgers, Retinal-Searing Moments and More

March 8, 2020

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

1. I fail to understand why the Starbucks not far from my home feels the need to blast loud music on their outdoor speakers at 6 am. Even if they were open. I also fail to understand why the residents of the high-end condo block only a few feet away aren’t complaining vociferously about it. They didn’t buy next to a bar, they bought next to a coffee shop that keeps regular hours.

2. Free clothing behind the transformer at Fairview Mall:

3. The guy in a motorized wheelchair sifting through the treasures in the donation bin at Fairview Mall may have a mobility impairment, but there’s sure nothing wrong with his lungs. As he unearthed items which struck his fancy, his screams could be heard well across the expansive parking lot.

4. The young woman with fake eyelashes seated across the aisle from me on the #12 GO bus seemed artificially cheery despite the early hour. Perhaps she was on her way home after a long night on the town in the Falls.

5. She, like the guy seated across the aisle from me on the train, was listening to music so loud I could hear it through her earbuds, showing no concern for her fellow passengers or her own eardrums.

6. The after-effects of a salt truck throwing up in Grimsby. Yes, they do use a lot of salt in this part of the world.

7. The #44 Rymal HSR bus, pictured here at the Confederation GO stop, actually waited for the passengers disembarking from the GO bus before taking off. In the Old Country, a Winnipeg Transit driver would have taken great pleasure in flooring it just as a would-be passenger got to the front door. Loyal readers know that I’ve seen and experienced such things personally.

8. Speaking of the O.C., the GO bus I was on passed a truck with Manitoba plates just before the Burlington Skyway. That place does keep following me around, even more than five-plus years post-defection.

9. Despite the many warning signs like these posted around the platform at the Burlington GO station, some guy in a turban sauntered out in front of the bus that was pulling in. When the driver angrily honked at him, Turban Guy just turned and shot him a “What’s your problem, dude?” look.

9a. Does anyone really think they’re going to get tagged with a $1,000 fine for not using the walkway?

10. While answering the call of nature at the washroom in the Burlington GO station, a guy in the stall was whistling away. I’ve heard of whistling while you work, but I’ve never heard of whistling while you shit. Then again, if you’re constipated, I suppose it can be considered work. Hard work.

11. While waiting for my C.U.-bound Lakeshore West train, I listened to an announcement that sounded like the voiceover from Charlie Brown’s teacher on Peanuts cartoons. Whether it was the sound system or the person behind the mic, if no one can understand you, what’s the point?

12. While walking up to the platform to catch said Lakeshore West train, I was following a woman hauling a suitcase who decided to stop in front of the door to chat with a young mother and her two kids. How considerate.

13. Boarding at the Oakville station was a woman in her mid-30s with dyed blond hair and vacuum-sealed black leather pants that were probably tighter on her than they were on the cow. It’s a wonder she could move in such things without ripping the seams.

14. As we approached Union Station, there was the standard announcement reminding us that crossing station tracks is illegal. So is blockading them, but that doesn’t matter much these days to police or our sorry excuse for a prime minister.

15. A new Presto machine in Union Station. Of note is the new video display and a barcode reader at the bottom. I presume the latter is for the new e-ticketing system GO is rolling out.

16. The TTC Presto gates at Union Station, complete with arrows showing which side you’re supposed to use. Loyal readers may recall the trouble I had once before they put up the signage, as the card readers are right on top of the metal dividers. The “you’re just supposed to know” principle so common here in St. Catharines doesn’t cut it in Toronto.

17. Disembarking from the subway at the Lawrence West station was a cyclist who decided to ride his bike along the platform right past a number of passengers instead of wheeling it to the exit. Now that’s something that, in addition to walking across and blockading station tracks, should also be illegal.

18. I noted with interest when the #52 TTC bus I was on passed Corona Street. No doubt there are people dumb enough to think they’ll get a virus if they get off at that stop.

19. Also on the #52 TTC bus was a guy carrying a couple of big, bulky speakers who decided to park himself and those speakers right in front of the Presto machine by the back door. For a minute there, I thought I was back in the Old Country, where the back door seems to be a magnet for passengers.

20. Walking down the sidewalk on Queens Drive, a guy crossed the street and cut in front of me, then stopped to light up a homemade cigarette. Once again, how considerate.

21. For the second straight time when visiting an A & W, I had an easier time getting through to the clerk at Place Ste-Foy in Ville de Québec than I did with the clerk who served me in the Yorkdale food court. When my Quebecese is better than your English, that’s a problem. I understand the difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff for these minimum-wage jobs, but proficiency in the English language needs to be more of a priority in the selection process.

22. Easily the most popular eatery in said Yorkdale food court was the Chick-Fil-A, where staff had to come out from behind the counter to manage the line. Obviously, the small handful of protesters from the LGBT+ community who decried the chain’s debut in the universe’s center don’t speak for the majority. It was also a welcome sign that maybe there’s still hope for us yet.

23. Seated directly across from me was a TTC driver who had his head bowed and was deep in thought. I can only imagine the stories he would have to tell from his experiences on the road.

24. Seated to my immediate left was someone munching on an A & W “wild-caught cod burger,” the latest big promotion from the chain. I can just picture fishing trawlers off the Newfoundland coast dredging up hundreds of those burgers in their nets. I hope they’re at least individually wrapped.

25. Scenes in Yorkdale, C.U.’s largest mall:


25a. While walking through the excessively opulent mall, I couldn’t help but be reminded how far I was from Polo Park in more ways than one.

26. Seated at a bench in the middle of the mall was a guy grading papers. Odd place for an instructor to be doing such a thing, but at least he’s actually working and not on strike, unlike the case with members of the GTU (Greedy Teachers Union).

27. The busker playing in the walkway leading to the Yorkdale TTC station had a sign stating he was a licensed TTC performer. According to the TTC, they hold auditions every three years for the 75 licenses they hand out to these musicians who supposedly enhance our customer experience. Um, whatever.

28. LIBERAL TRIGGER ALERT This plaque designates the plaza outside Union Station as the Sir John A. Macdonald Plaza in honor of Canada’s first prime minister. The same Sir John A. Macdonald who is being targeted by radical leftists across the country eager to strip his name from public places. Eat your heart out, liberals!

29. The new ad from Fallsview Casino at the Exhibition stop:

30. Forget the coronavirus, I’m more concerned with the crap left behind on the ceiling in the car I was in on my return trip:

31. Easily the most retinal-searing moment of the trip came when I spotted a chunky woman with black fishnet stockings stretched over her thunder thighs at the Burlington GO station. What a great example to be setting for her small child. A close second came was when a mentally challenged teenager decided to pull up his pants only after coming out of the stall at the same Burlington GO station.

32. Dear GO Transit: You don’t need to be flashing “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” on your buses. It’s not that big of a deal.

33. One guy at the counter at Burlington GO told the clerk, “I’m going to, like, Exhibition.” Well, are you going to Exhibition or something like it?

34. Every sighting of the #12 Burlington Carpool bus always draws rookie travelers out of the station and this trip was no exception. Just because it’s a #12 bus doesn’t mean it’s heading for the Falls. Read the sign before charging outside and running down the platform like an idiot.

35. A teenage girl waiting in line for the Falls-bound #12 bus was sure swearing up a storm as she was talking to someone on her phone. As unwelcome as it was, however, I still do appreciate that such salty language does stand out in sharp contrast to the Old Country, where profane oratories are par for the course.

36. Also in line was a guy asking his buddy if he had heard of this new “Centennial” stop. The buddy knew nothing of it and surmised it was a mythical Centennial Square near the Niagara Falls Bus Terminal. I hope they got it straightened out en route because that’s actually the Stoney Creek stop where the guy’s friends were planning to pick him up and drive to the Falls.

37. A woman who boarded at that “Centennial” stop came up the stairs and announced, “We’re all going to get coronavirus.” And a great day to you too.

38. On that Falls-bound #12 bus, why the driver made two separate announcements less than a minute apart for each stop in addition to the automated announcement remains a mystery.

39. A retirement community along the QEW in Stoney Creek was advertising “Memory care now open!” In case your memory needs to be cared for . . .

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