02 Aug

Commemorating an Anniversary

Observations from a day trip to and from Pearson Airport commemorating the three-year anniversary of our defection from the SPRM:

1. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see an SPRM plate upon arrival at Fairview Mall to catch the #12 GO bus. But I was.

For the record, that same car also was there after getting back. Again, I shouldn’t have been surprised.

1a. I spotted two trucks from Bison Transport on the way to Burlington. That place does have a way of following me around.

2. Also waiting at Fairview was a middle-aged dude with an emerging beer belly who was madly puffing away on a cigarette. Rather than use the wheels on his suitcases, he opted to borrow a shopping cart from one of the stores in the mall to haul his luggage around.

3. Now an experienced veteran of the GO bus, I’ve got the prerecorded line they play when opening the door down pat. Thank you for pre-purchasing your fare. For customers using Presto, please have your card ready to tap on. Thank you for traveling with GO Transit.

4. A couple seated in the upper level who I later learned were headed to Quebec City had dragged their suitcases up the steep, narrow staircase. As did a couple on the return trip. I do not understand the apparent fascination with hauling heavy luggage around the bus when storage facilities are provided right by the door, and upon request, in the locked rear compartment.

5. A scruffy punk in his 20s who got on at Fairview was sporting a T-shirt with “Turkey Bowl” on it and was slurping his coffee so loudly the bus driver below him must have been able to hear it.

6. At Grimsby, I spotted a plate with the last three digits of 642. I would also spot a 642 plate parked at Port Credit as well as locomotive 642 at Union Station. I knew I was not alone on this trip. You may understand. You may not.

7. Boarding at Grimsby was a smoker who put his expertise in speed-puffing to good use to squeeze every last bit out of his cigarette before getting on.

8. Also at Grimsby was someone waiting to go to St. Catharines. Despite the fact that the bus was clearly signed, “Burlington Carpool,” he figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask if the bus was going to St. Catharines. Sure, buddy, we’ll just turn the bus around and make a special trip back to Fairview. Because it’s you.

9. Leaving Grimsby, I spotted a sign for “fresh fruit from the farm.” Where else besides a grocery store would you expect to get fresh fruit from? A car wash?

10. I didn’t know there was more than one stop at Fairview Street and Maple Avenue.

11. The construction of the new Burlington GO station remains a puzzling and lone exception to the otherwise speedy pace at which things get done in this part of the world. I swear they’re working on a one-screw-per-day rule.

11a. What do you suppose we’ll see first? Year-round train service to Niagara, the completion of the new Burlington GO station or Halley’s Comet? My money’s on the comet.

12. On the Union-bound Lakeshore West train, the customer service ambassador’s disdain for her job could not have been more obvious. I didn’t think it was possible to say “final call for the doors” any faster and less clearly than she did.

13. On said Lakeshore West train, I had the pleasure of being entertained by a teenage princess who, like, couldn’t stop, like, saying “like.” Including the part where she gave us the details of, like, her proposed trip to, like, Florida. But, like, she didn’t have much, like, money. Like, what a shame.

13a. It was the same way on the return trip on both the train and the bus. The next time someone tells you that the most used word in the English language is “the,” don’t believe it. Like, it’s just got to be “like.”

14. Another case of failed train etiquette:

14a. Not to defend it, but it beats the obnoxious bums, beer bottles and condom wrappers regularly found on Winnipeg Transit.

15. I also had the pleasure of watching the infantile doodlings of a fellow passenger seated in front of me. What people will do to mindlessly pass the time.

16. Walking through Union Station to catch the UP Express train, I couldn’t help but wonder why they didn’t call the new service the Pearson-Union Express instead. PU Express has such a classier ring to it.

17. A hard, wooden bench isn’t exactly my idea of “comfort.”

17a. This would have constituted high-end, luxury seating at the previous incarnation of Manitoba Taxpayers Stadium, where you couldn’t even be assured of getting a back on your seat.

18. I was so happy to hear that Dr. J. didn’t find anything troubling with the guy who boarded the UP Express train at the Bloor station. But the entire car didn’t need to know the particulars of his visit to the dentist. Nor did we need to know about his upcoming travel plans to China.

18a. I don’t think I was the only one cheering when he got off at the Weston station.

19. It’s nice that they provide moving sidewalks at Pearson, but I don’t understand why people who want to walk get on them. I swear for every five people using the moving sidewalk, three of them were walking.

20. As I did in my last trip to Pearson, I took the link train to Terminal 3 and back, but this time, I recorded it on video.

21. I stopped for lunch at Subway at Terminal 3, where the people behind the counter had less command of the English language than the crew who served me in Gatineau last year.

22. Dear Frans Von Houten: Whoever you are, there’s someone walking the halls of Terminal 3 looking for you.

23. A shot of the Niagara Airbus counter. Where it all began.

24. There were far too many people in Union Station who looked like they’ve been featured on People of Walmart. Maybe soon there will be a People of Union Station website.

24a. Among the People of Union Station was a woman wearing a T-shirt a couple of sizes too small showing off the results of a surgical procedure. It must have been tough for the surgeon to implant so much silicone or saline, depending what it is they use these days.

24b. That sighting reminded me of the time when I heard basketball announcer Chip Caray say “There’s a Dow Corning nightmare” when the camera focused on a scantily-clad cheerleader.

24c. Also among the People of Union Station was someone covered in tattoos from head to toe. I don’t get it and I’m proud of that.

25. Visiting the washroom prior to boarding the train back to Burlington, I noticed everyone was washing their hands after doing their business. I continue to appreciate living in a part of the world where this is the norm, not the exception. Just like I continue to appreciate living in a part of the world where police have to remind homeowners to lock their doors before going to bed at night.

26. The internal IP address and MAC address of the display screen up at platform 9 was not something travelers, even techies like me, particularly needed to know. But the wizards at GO evidently thought otherwise.

27. I’m not sure why those screws were sticking up from the roof covering the staircase leading up to the platform, but it’s got to be one heck of a deterrent for anyone who gets the brain wave of crawling up there to wave good-bye to departing train passengers.

28. Mixed in among the “likes” from a teenage princess seated a few rows away from me were, “me and her went somewhere,” and “it’s like every five minutes, she goes ‘I’m lost.’”

29. On the train, someone came around for a fare inspection, followed behind by a constable to write a ticket in case there was anyone who had not paid. Which there wasn’t, at least in my car.

After they left, I couldn’t help but recall the words of a friend from Winnipeg who remarked how surprised he was that so many people actually paid on the train. It again made me happy to be living in a part of the world where paying fare under the honor system is the norm rather than the exception. Not that Winnipeg will ever get anything close to the equivalent of the GO train.

30. Spotted at the Bronte station was a bike whose owner had dropped the lock on the ground rather than using it to lock up the bike. But both the bike and the lock were probably still there when the owner came back for them, unlike what would happen in some other parts of the world.

31. If a prospective thief can manage to cut his way through the thick metal poles holding up this sign at the Burlington GO station, that puny little cable sure isn’t going to stand in his way.

32. Spotted at the Burlington GO station was a young mother pushing a stroller who couldn’t have been much older than 14. Oy.

33. To the three people who asked me for tourist information at the Burlington GO station, you’re welcome.

34. The driver of the car the GO bus was following turned on her signal lights after taking the exit to the QEW. That’s not the way it’s supposed to work.

35. According to the British guy seated behind me on the GO bus, there’s also a town called Grimsby in the UK, but it’s a “total turdhole.” At least from what I was able to gather in between “likes.” Like, that got to be really annoying.

36. Why do people make a special effort to go up top and park themselves in the front row just so they can snooze through the entire hour-long ride? Like, I don’t get it.

37. Spotted on the back of a van we were following: Rules of the Car: 1. Get in. 2. Shut up. 3. Hold on.

38. After getting off at Stoney Creek, a kid who got off ran down the street as if he had a 2×4 rammed up his backside.

39. As we made our way through a heavy rainstorm, the British guy said, “The only thing that would make this trip more Canadian is some bears.” I can understand bears, sort of, but since when has rain become quintessentially Canadian?

39a. Traveling through said rainstorm, I couldn’t help but recall Environment Canada’s forecast of 40% chance of showers. How those people can justify their jobs is beyond me.

40. Some rubby-dub got on at Grimsby who looked like he hadn’t either shaved or bathed in the past couple of weeks. He was wearing a cap with “I Don’t Care” written on it and I didn’t doubt it for a second.

41. Someone painted the bench at the Beamsville stop in rainbow colors. Enough already! I don’t care if you marry a goat. But as a good friend often says, stop shoving it down my throat!

42. Spotted on a van near Fairview Mall: If you choke a smurf, does it turn blue?