Tag Archives: GO Transit

17 Nov

Fun Times on Public Transit

Observations, a few pictures and even some audio from a day on public transit to and from Pearson Airport:

1. While waiting at Fairview Mall, a mentally challenged guy came into the shelter and began blabbering some marginally intelligible gibberish in my general direction. After telling me that he cleaned his driveway three times yesterday, he turned his head slightly and ejected a half-gallon of snot from his nose before continuing. He apparently likes craft sales and he’ll be volunteering at one of them today, then he finished his bottle of Diet Pepsi before boarding his connecting #309 bus, thus sparing me more of his life story.

2. Among those boarding the #12C bus, surprisingly few paid with Presto, which is most unusual for a weekday.

3. Oddly, despite the wet and sloppy conditions on Friday morning, five bikes were parked at the Beamsville Park and Ride.

4. Among those boarding at Grimsby was a guy wearing a Kenora dinner jacket:

5. The customer service ambassador on the Lakeshore West train must not have slept well as “Final call for the doors” was routinely shortened to “Finlclfrthdrs.”

6. While walking through Eaton Center in Toronto, artificially bubbly clerks from Paragon were madly approaching passers-by and shoving small packets of a smelly substance at them. I did not dare to as much as slow down to investigate as to what the contents may have been. As they say in Texas, El Paso.

7. On the #1 TTC subway line, another mental case was walking up and down entertaining passengers like me with her special vocal talent.

8. On the #2 line, I was seated across the aisle from a young woman engrossed with her laptop who kept tugging on her lip so hard it was remarkable she didn’t peel the skin off.

9. While passing the Jane station, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the former first lady of Ontario, whose wife’s Liberals were so humiliated at the ballot box that they don’t even hold official party status at Queen’s Park anymore.

10. When I got to the Kipling station to transfer to the 192 Airport Rocket bus to take me to Pearson, in its place was the 900 Airport Express. It was only later when I saw this sign at Terminal 1 that I learned of the change as there was nothing posted at Kipling.

Furthermore, the change was not supposed to go into effect until Sunday, yet the buses and all signage at Kipling had already been changed. The “you’re just supposed to know” mantra may pass in St. Catharines, but it doesn’t cut it in Toronto. Two thumbs down to the TTC on this one.

11. Seated near the front of the prematurely marked 900 Airport Express bus was a guy wearing a vintage-model Jets toque. I normally cringe at reminders of the republic I once called home, but I didn’t mind that one.

12. At the international arrivals in Terminal 3, an Asian couple dumped their coats and a few of their belongings next to me while running off to chat with some others. How trusting of them.

13. Aboard the Airport Express bus on the way back to the Kipling station, I spotted someone near the front who was chugging down a can of beer. Judging from the way he was staggering around the station once we got there, it likely wasn’t his first of the day.

14. The same could be said for the bum next to me on the #2 line who reeked of some sort of alcoholic beverage. From the looks of him, he probably just got up off a park bench after passing out the previous night.

15. In front of me in the same car was someone sharing a bubble tea with his girlfriend. I can’t imagine how much they paid for the beverage that looked like watered down cappuccino with rat turds floating at the bottom of the cup.

16. As we made our way east on the #2 line, a fatso took a seat in front of me. In a state of semi-slumber, she apparently thought my knee was a resting place for her arm and enormous blubber that oozed way over the edge of the wide seat.

17. One of the slogans Metrolinx is using on posters around Union Station is “We’re working hard to bring you Rapid Transit.” Trust me, you don’t want to emulate the biggest white-elephant project Winnipeg has ever known.

18. Despite the fact that mid-November is hardly peak tourist season, there was quite the line of people waiting to board the #12 bus at Burlington:

19. Waiting in that line, someone behind me yelled, “Geez, it’s cold.” Yes, the wind picked up a bit in the afternoon, but the temperature was +3. Go spend a few winters in the SPRM, then you’ll find out what cold really is.

20. I suspect the hyperactive smoker who got on at Beamsville and sat down next to me didn’t connect his heavy breathing and shortness of breath with his smoking habit. Then, the instant the bus came to a stop at Fairview Mall, the guy took off like a shot, running down the stairs and off the bus.

21. While walking through Fairview Mall after getting off the bus, a guy who was using the pay phone stopped me and asked, “Hey, buddy, do you know if there’s a bar around here on Geneva Street?”

While I was thinking, he added, “You know, a variety store.”

“But I thought you said a bar?” I replied.

“Yeah, a bar and a variety store.”

Well, there’s an odd combination.

Then he continued.

“It used to be known as something then some other thing.”

Gee, that’s helpful.

So even though I’m good with places and directions, even for places I don’t frequent like bars, I couldn’t help him.

What a shame. My heart bleeds for the poor guy.

Or not.

31 Oct

The Hamilton Experience

Highlights from yesterday’s day trip to Hamilton:

1. And a happy Tuesday to you too …

2. Waiting with me at the Fairview Mall bus stop was someone wearing a heavy fur-lined parka, and later in the day, I spotted someone wearing thick fur-lined boots. It was only +1 in the morning and went as high as +14 near midday. I can’t imagine what these people would do if they had to suffer through winters with -40 wind chill values that last for weeks on end. Like I did.

3. Since our GO driver came late, I appreciate his efforts in trying to make up time, but running that aging yellow light at Lake Street was not a good idea.

4. Even though I didn’t leave that early, many people were sleeping on the bus:

5. Here’s a guy who probably moans and groans to his doctor about all the health problems he has:

6. After boarding the Barton bus, it took only three stops before someone with a wheelchair got on and it took only three more stops for the first stroller. That stroller was draped in plastic as the mother undoubtedly wanted to protect her child from the “extreme” cold.

7. En route, I spotted a poster plastered on a pole that read, “Your perfect the way are – chin up.” Oy.

8. Soon after seeing such grammatical “perfection,” someone got on who was munching on a sticky bun from Tim Hortons began filling the airwaves. He would later say Donald Trump is a racist (he would also call Justin Trudeau an airhead) and has a big mouth, but he had a pretty big mouth himself.

For starters, he told us his mother’s birthday was yesterday and they had “a hell of a feast” at the Red Lobster in Burlington to celebrate. After saying “I don’t pay much attention to other people much,” he went on a diatribe about government extortion and that there’s no such thing as justice unless you’ve got the money to pay for it. In another display of the “tolerance” of those on the left side of the political spectrum, his answer was to “hang all the suits.” He went on to say that the only real criminals in society wear suits and ties and make laws to protect themselves.

Then it was on to his employment history. He told us he has 15 years of experience working on houses, and his previous employer who fired him abruptly supposedly jumped him from behind “like a girl” and tried to gouge his eyes out after he tried to retrieve his tools. Then when he “painted” his ex-boss’s truck, he was charged with mischief. “Sometimes life is just a joke,” he said. But he likes his current employer much better, who even trusts him with his Home Depot card. I’m not sure I would.

He also told us he used to be a volunteer at the Good Shepherd on Mary Street and his mother has only $200/month to live on. His sister is apparently a really good cake decorator, but his brother is a real underachiever who needs to get his head out of his butt.

9. While all that was going on, our bus driver and other passing motorists somehow managed to avoid a member of our distinguished First Nations community who was standing in the middle of traffic.

10. Walking to the MacNab Transit Terminal, I passed by someone on the street wearing a Chipman toque. As a good friend of mine would say, “Loser!”

11. It’s bad enough that I’m forced to pay for that fake news Liberal propaganda on CBC, but does HSR have to shove it down my throat on the video display behind the driver?

12. En route to the Lime Ridge Mall, someone was running after the bus and the driver actually waited for her. Unlike the case in another part of the world, where drivers wait until such a passenger reaches the front door before flooring it.

13. While using the pay phone next to a door clearly labeled “out of service,” people still kept trying it. The same people who don’t believe those signs are undoubtedly the same ones who do believe the crap they see and read on the fake news.

14. Spotted at Lime Ridge Mall was a mother pushing her child in a stroller heading for the exit while fishing a cigarette out of her purse. Later in the day, I would also spot a fatso waiting for a bus puffing on a cigarette while tending to her child in the stroller in front of her. Such concern for their children.

14a. Not that I’m one of those “ban everything” people, but I wouldn’t object if smoking directly in front of your infant child was made a criminal offense.

15. The most popular topic of conversation among the seniors hanging out in the food court involved the scratch and lose tickets most of them had. However they earned a living back in the day, it obviously didn’t involve anything that required a high level of proficiency in math.

16. I nearly choked when walking past the Yankee Candle store. As someone with allergies, I know I’m more sensitive than most, but how anyone can stand to put that stuff in their home is beyond me. Let alone pay good money for the privilege.

17. The mall was promoting the Canadian debut of “Le Refuge,” some piece of artwork on tour of various malls across North America. Whatever.

18. Get your complimentary stamp card here:

19. Not just a regular hall, but a fabulous hall …

20. Someone who courageously resists the imposition of the Metric system:

21. If you have a community you want to donate …

22. Nothing says you care quite like a gift card from Value Village.

23. Spotted on Concession Street was a fatso waddling through the front door of “One Wellness Group,” where “Your wellness is our passion.” Wellness certainly wasn’t her passion, that’s for sure.

24. Someone was kind enough to leave a free pair of pants for anyone who may happen to be in need. How very compassionate™.

25. Passing me at the Hamilton GO Center was a guy with a walker holding a roll of toilet paper in his hand. You can never be too prepared, so it seems.

26. I’ve heard the expression that everyone smiles in the same language, but as I saw on the faces of an Asian couple leaving the Hamilton GO Center, everyone also looks lost in the same language. I hope they found their way, because it was plainly obvious they had absolutely no idea where they were. I might have offered to help, but I wasn’t even sure they knew much English, if any.

27. Someone doesn’t like Donny M.:

28. Free supplies for those involved with street drugs:

29. Some dude wheeling a bike approached me on James Street and asked if there was any way I could spare 60 cents. Since his bike was nicer than mine, I should have asked him for 60 cents.

29a. Recall that it was less than two weeks ago that a haggard cyclist in Buffalo referred me to a nearby mission for a free meal. I obviously don’t have that Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous look.

30. Walking past the Money Mart on James Street, I noticed some salty looking dudes inside waiting in line. How desperate and/or dumb do you have to be to patronize places like that?

31. I think Mayor Sendzik has another case for trademark infringement …

32. So if it’s $25 for full legs, does a midget only have to pay $12.50?

33. What is a “rail drink”?

34. Got to keep that pole warm …

35. As I discovered with my lead-footed driver on the return trip, there’s a reason they call it “GO” Transit.

36. Spotted on Lake Street was a guy on an ebike with one hand on the handlebar and his other hand digging for buried treasure deep inside his ear canal.

09 Oct

Thanksgiving in the Universe’s Center

Pictures and observations from Monday’s visit to the Center of the Universe:

1. On this occasion, rather than take the usual #12 bus to Burlington and transfer to a Lakeshore West train, I took advantage of the special holiday express train running between Niagara Falls and Union Station. Unfortunately, had I not been fortunate enough to get a ride to the train station, I would not have been able to take this train as St. Catharines Transit buses, as per their normal holiday schedule, don’t start running until after 11:00 am. Since this train comes through St. Catharines so infrequently, couldn’t they have made an exception and run a couple of shuttle buses to the station? After all, what is the point of having this great public transit service if you can’t get to the station by public transit?

This is exactly why I’m not one of those people eagerly anticipating the promised arrival of regular GO train service to St. Catharines. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there’s some planning going on behind the scenes for new and/or improved service to the station, but as things currently stand with St. Catharines Transit, when the buses are actually running, it would take me longer to get to the station than it would for the train to get to Burlington. Not a big win in my books.

2. Parking fail at the train station:

3. Scenes around our humble station:

4. Spotted this sign for a cannabis company at the Exhibition station, an unfriendly reminder that the legalization of weed is only days away.

5. Bums passed out inside Union Station:

6. Also at Union Station, a woman clutches her teddy bear outside the washroom:

7. As a long-lost friend of mine would say, “no visuals please.”

8. We all need our “proten” :

9. Dear Black Guy Pissing in the Alley: I realize many local restaurants only offer washrooms to paying customers, but just a block away was the Dragon City Mall as well as nearby Chinatown Center, both of which were open on the holiday Monday and have public washrooms. Consider using them before grumbling at passers-by who give you a dirty look.

10. Inside Chinatown Center was the familiar and sometimes overpowering odor of recently applied rodent-killing chemicals. It was the same smell, incidentally, that reeked throughout the mall in Brampton I was at with a friend back in April.

11. A nail place for gays?

12. This “Hello Kitty” sign struck this Jets fan, who remembers the “Hey Kitty” game in December 1985 all too well. For those who may have forgotten, trailing the play behind Randy Carlyle, Bernie Nicholls of the Kings called out to Carlyle using his nickname. After hearing “Hey, Kitty,” Carlyle obliged by feeding Nicholls a perfect drop pass. From my vantage point up in section 44, I had a bird’s-eye view as Nicholls then went in alone and potted one past Daniel Bouchard.

13. Someone with boxing gloves on the top of her backpack. Spoiling for a fight perhaps?

14. Walking southbound though along Spadina, a Muslim woman walking alongside her husband grumbled angrily after having to submit to the indignity of getting out of my way. Excuuuuse me for being there.

15. As they say in Texas, El Paso …

16. Did someone just assume the city’s gender? And shouldn’t it be Ms. Toronto instead of Miss Toronto?

17. Stress testing the railings?

18. More political incorrectness on display. What is this world coming to?

19. What is “klezmer” and why do I need to be worried about it?

20. Spotted on Queen’s Quay were a pair of homeless bums who apparently don’t have the means to put a roof over their heads, but do have the means to support a pair of dogs.

Later, I spotted another homeless guy camped out under the Gardiner who again didn’t have the means to put a roof over his head, but did have the money for a bike better than mine and to also support a dog.

21. Across from Union Station on Bay Street was this “starving writer” parked on the street begging for money. I know as well as anyone how tough it is to break in as a writer, but that’s why you need another occupation to pay the bills. For every “star” author that hits it big, there are thousands who don’t make a dime off of it. Bottom line: Do it because you love it, not for fame and fortune.

22. While waiting under a big digital sign at Union Station indicating that it was platform 5, a woman asked the guy standing behind me if this was indeed platform 5.

23. Just put up your feet on the seat.

24. While in line at the washroom in Burlington, I noticed that someone who was in one of the two stalls had left his suitcase unattended by the entrance. How trusting of him.

25. Boarding the #12 bus in front of me at Burlington were a couple of Middle Eastern guys giving the driver a sob story about having gone the wrong way and conveniently having thrown away their receipt. I understand why the driver let them board rather than risk a confrontation and/or be accused of racism, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

25a. The aforementioned freeloaders remind me of a case at our photo club, where one guy keeps showing up and feels very much entitled to enjoy the benefit of club membership without paying for it. Then the executive who say nothing to him complain about declining revenues and membership.

25b. Sometimes people are too polite for their own good.

26. Soon after taking one of the last available seats on the bus, a guy sat down in front of me who had a distinct odor of shit that hung in the air all the way back to St. Catharines. The niceties of public transit.

27. The mother of a young boy seated across the aisle who got on at Nash and Barton was complaining that her phone had been acting up ever since she dropped it in the toilet. I understand that accidents happen, but why was she taking it with her to the toilet in the first place?

28. Free clothing left outside the LCBO at Fairview Mall:

29. Did this mean that regular gas was free?

30. For more pictures on the day, check my album on Facebook.

19 Aug

Nuggets from the Road

Off-color observations with a few pictures from another bus, train and subway ride to and from Toronto’s Pearson Airport. Which isn’t actually in Toronto.

1. Walking to the bus stop at Fairview Mall, I made sure to give a wide berth to the skunk ahead of me on the sidewalk. Fortunately, it decided to cross the street, stopping to wait for a pickup truck to pass by before proceeding, further proof that even skunks are smarter than the average Winnipeg pedestrian.

2. En route to the bus stop, I spotted two bikes outside at a Tim Hortons using Niagara bike security, turning them upside down rather than locking them up. Perhaps the logic behind it is that the rightful owners would have time to come out and confront the would-be thief before he/she made off with the bike(s). But it was further proof that I was no longer in the Old Country, where even a bike secured with a thick metal U-bar lock is not safe.

3. As soon as I rounded the corner past Zehr’s, I heard a couple across the street swearing up a storm. When the bus pulled up, while puffing on their cigarettes, this scruffy pair gave the driver a sob story about their cash being taken and only having debit cards. Unsatisfied with the driver’s explanation that there were plenty of ATMs around, they continued bellyaching and after a few crocodile tears, he eventually gave in and let them ride like a Winnipegger – for free. The male half of the couple gave the driver a hug and the female half patted the driver on the shoulder and said “God bless” as the two of them disembarked at Stoney Creek, where someone in a white van was waiting for them. No doubt they were laughing about how they scammed their way into a free bus ride and probably still are.

3a. That driver, by the way, bore a striking similarity to Barack Obama, whose presidency was the greatest fraud ever committed against the American people. And just like Obama, the driver was also generous with other people’s money in giving the aforementioned couple a free ride.

4. When the driver asked the older woman who got on at Grimsby where she was going, she answered “the train.” She needed to be a little more specific and the driver really had to work at beating the details out of her in order to calculate the fare. Fare she at least paid, unlike those freeloaders.

5. The cheery clerk at the Burlington GO station was yet another who liked my “Make Speech Free Again” hat. I do get that a lot when I’m out with it on. Which is a good sign.

6. Thumbs down to GO Transit for now making the stop announcements on the train in Quebecese. If our new premier is on the hunt for efficiencies, how about cutting the jobs of the bureaucrats who thought of this condescending idea?

7. When one family got on at Bronte, the kids were anxious to go up top, as it was their first time on the train, but the mother openly suggested they go under the tracks instead. I don’t know if she was joking.

8. Among the big rush of people who got on at Bronte was one woman panting and wheezing while screaming, “Water! Water!” She sounded every bit like someone who was running late and had to run like mad to catch the train.

9. Someone seated across from me who was reading the Toronto Sun brought the whole paper up to his face to lick his finger rather than just lift his hand. During this lickfest, he also treated half the car to his Coles Notes version of every article he had read.

10. A family of four who got on at Clarkson left their stroller by the door, then went to take a seat in the middle of the car. And it was still there when they got off at Exhibition. Once again, this is not the Old Country.

11. A woman who got on at Port Credit immediately recognized someone she knew in the quad in front of me and proceeded to regale him with a like-fest. Much like I found from the audio I had recorded in the subway later, I was surprised that she managed to hold her LPM to just over 7. That’s likes per minute. She also made sure to tell her friend how she was still feeling that, like, child mentality. No kidding.

12. Approaching Union, I saw a billboard for Coolsculpting, a place that supposedly freezes away fat. Isn’t it better to just put down the cheesecake and not pile on the fat in the first place? Something this tub of lard on the subway should consider:

13. If this doesn’t scream “lonely and forlorn,” I don’t know what does:

14. Somehow, I don’t think this ad campaign was aimed at the fake news media to try and get them to ask tough questions of their Liberal friends:

15. This woman on the #2 line who must have spent an ungodly amount of time painting intricate designs on her toenails felt no shame in forcing her fellow passengers to listen to the audio portion of the video she was watching on her phone.

16. While stopped at a light on Dixon Road, someone in an SUV opened his door and unloaded a big glob of spit on the ground.

17. I felt badly for the guy walking through Terminal 1 with obvious “water” stains just below his crotch. He’s certainly not alone, as there’s a reason why many drug stores have aisles dedicated to incontinence products.

18. Someone made a mess at the international arrivals area in Terminal 3:

19. On the arrivals level, nothing says “Welcome to Canada” better than a long line at Tim Hortons:

20. Also spotted in Terminal 3 was someone wearing a T-shirt from Thrasher Skateboarding Magazine, a publication that predated the former NHL team of the same name and also outlasted it.

21. Temporary out of service …

22. This group of women decked out in Ethiopian colors and flying Ethiopian flags was coming to meet someone at the international arrivals area of Terminal 1. Since that person was coming to Canada, shouldn’t they have been flying Canadian flags instead? And if Ethiopia is so wonderful, why come here at all?

23. To heck with Canadian students of Canadian parents going to Canadian universities funded by Canadian taxpayers. Let’s bend over backwards for international students, who, despite their protestations to the contrary, don’t even have a right to be in the country, let alone study at universities paid for by Canadians for the benefit of Canadians. Not cool, CIBC!

24. A middle-aged woman walking through Terminal 1 might as well have been going around with a flashing neon sign with “Look at me, I had a boob job” on her forehead. It was that obvious.

25. At Terminal 1, there was a whole row of guys were parked in the chairs in front of the charging stations, yet none of them were charging their phones. How considerate.

26. On the return trip, seated in front of me on the #2 line was a guy in a pink hoodie with “I’m a lover not a fighter” written on the back. As he was leaning over to his “partner” showing off the game he was playing on his phone, I got the unmistakable impression he was a fervent supporter of the previous provincial government.

27. On the subway was someone with a brown paper bag from Slab Burgers. The name suggests it’s not exactly a health-food place.

28. I’m not sure why GO Transit has customer service ambassadors, but if they must have them, surely the ability to speak fluent English should be foremost among the job requirements. The one I had on the return trip sounded bright and cheery and all, but much of what she had to say sounded garbled and it wasn’t because of the sound system.

29. Seated across from me on the Burlington-bound Lakeshore West train were two parents from Ajax with their daughter. The father spent virtually the entire ride acting like a teacher lecturing his student in a classroom, and among the many subjects he covered in detail was how a volcano works. Then he went on to explain that there are two languages in Canada that everyone needs to know. The daughter didn’t quite understand why and frankly, neither do I.

When not preoccupied with his daughter, he was busy sniping at his silent wife, complaining about how she makes things too complicated and that they had missed the previous train by three minutes because she was so slow. All told, I got the impression that a couple of family law attorneys are about to get some more business.

As we got closer to Burlington, he threatened to brush his daughter’s teeth with soap because she used a bad word, then proceeded to drop an F-bomb. And he wonders where the kid picks up that kind of language.

30. Spotted near an excavation site in Oakville was a container from “Earth Boring.” If it’s so boring here, try another planet.

31. Interesting message on the GO bus on the way back to St. Catharines:

32. Just past the Burlington Skyway, one guy from Quebec pulled over to the shoulder to provide some liquid fertilizer for the bushes alongside the QEW. Going through Stoney Creek, a father also pulled over to help one or more of his kids answer the call of nature. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

33. Stuck in the middle of bumper-to-bumper traffic, a couple behind me was bitching about the fact that the bus was so far behind schedule and as a result, they were about to miss a wedding they were planning to attend. On one hand, I felt badly for them, but mid-summer congestion on the only major highway leading to one of the world’s top tourist destinations not far from the country’s most densely populated region isn’t exactly unprecedented. They should have known better and left earlier.

34. On the way home, I spotted a red star on this house, no doubt indicative of the owner’s support for the NDP:

35. Assorted roadside junk:

36. Doesn’t this just scream “curb appeal”?

37. It’s “Grantham” Avenue …

 

02 Aug

Planet Hamilton

Observations and a few pictures from yesterday’s tour of Hamilton in honor of the fourth anniversary of my defection from the SPRM and move to St. Catharines:

1. On the GO bus was a fat middle-aged guy wearing a golf shirt that might have fit him in high school. Barely. The tightly stretched shirt failed to cover much of his belly and he needed a bra for the boobs some women would pay big money for.

2. Dear GO Transit: I realize everyone else was going the same speed, but the red lines through the construction zones on the QEW are indicators that drivers are supposed to slow down, not speed up.

3. Seated across the aisle from me on the GO bus was a woman with a nose ring that looked like metal snot.

4. On the occasion of the anniversary of my defection from the SPRM, I spotted a Bison Transport truck on the QEW in both directions. As I’ve said before, the SPRM does keep following me around.

5. At Stoney Creek, the HSR driver kindly stopped and waited for those of us transferring from the GO bus. Once again, this is not the Old Country, where the driver would have floored it as soon as we got to the front door, then bragged about it back at the garage.

6. On the way downtown, there was only one stroller and one walker, but it was a completely different story on the way back. On that trip, there was one wheelchair, two strollers and one walker already on board when I got on with two more strollers getting on later. In fact, there was so little room left on the bus that the driver was unable to take on either of the two strollers waiting at a stop in front of a bar.

7. Spotted in a shelter along the way downtown was a scruffy old bum using a bunch of crumpled-up plastic bags from No Frills as a cushion.

8. Spotted on a Hamilton Cab was the slogan, “Powered by pride.” Does it only take gay gas?

9. A bum catching a few winks in the median on York Boulevard:

10. The number of smokers I spotted on the day led me to believe there’s an inverse relationship between economic well-being and likelihood of smoking. In other words, those who can least afford to smoke do. And then anti-poverty advocates cry about the social determinants of health.

11. As a cyclist who regularly puts on more than 2,000 miles per year on two wheels, I appreciate efforts to make cities more cyclist-friendly. But in the first shot, having the lane on the left side of the one-way street is counter-intuitive since drivers normally expect cyclists to be on the right. Same for the second shot, showing a two-way cycle track on Bay Street, which is one way for cars. This can lead to a situation where a driver is not expecting a cyclist who is traveling in the opposite direction of car traffic.

12. Walking the streets downtown, I get the feeling the annual Hamilton Fringe Festival starts on January 1 and ends on December 31.

13. Um, whatever.

14. As opposed to unregistered condominiums?

15. While at the A & W eating lunch, an older woman seated across from me with enough lipstick to dam the mighty Mississippi thought she needed more.

16. Also at the A & W, someone came up to the counter and simply said she wanted “something with beef.” After the clerk managed to coerce more specifics out of her, she ended up ordering so much beef that she needed a bag to carry it all out in. It was beef, by the way, that she really didn’t need.

17. Lay down the law …

18. I saw many oddities on the day, but the sight of this Hamilton police officer on horseback on James Street was perhaps the most unexpected of them:

19. If only these artist-run centers were also artist-funded:

20. To heck with any humans in the building, just worry about the dog:

21. How else can you explain popular support for the NDP?

22. On the day, I spotted two Muslim women driving. How nice of their husbands to permit such a thing.

23. Seated across from me on the Barton bus headed back to Stoney Creek was a guy with a Q-Ray bracelet, advertising himself as a sucker easily separated from his money.

24. HSR revenues would increase dramatically if they charged by the pound instead of a flat rate per person.

25. I feel the pain of the cyclist whose bike is at the far right end of the rack.

26. I don’t think this is exactly how they teach you to park in driving school:

 

15 Jul

An Interesting Day on Public Transit

Observations and a few pictures from an interesting day riding public transit to and from Pearson Airport:

1. Walking through the Fairview Mall parking lot at 6:30 am on my way to the GO stop, I spotted a couple of salty looking dudes, one of whom was toting a six-pack. It was either left over from a wild night or they were getting an early start. My guess was the latter.

2. Despite only having a couple of minutes to spare before the bus left, one passenger so desperately hooked on his smokes dug out a cigarette to squeeze in a few last puffs while waiting near the door. That guy needed professional help.

3. One woman on board was wearing knee-high leather boots. Did I mention that we’re sweltering in the middle of a heat wave? ‘Tis more important to be fashionable than to be comfortable, in the opinion of some.

4. At Nash and Barton, a man and his daughter were madly running across the parking lot trying to catch the bus. And the driver waited for them. Once again, this is not the Old Country, where the Winnipeg Transit driver would have taken great pleasure in leaving them in his dust, then bragging about it to his buddies back at the garage.

5. While I was in line at the counter at the Burlington GO station, the woman in front of me was regaling the only agent on duty with a long story about something that happened on the bus. Until the guy behind me yelled, “We’ve got a train to catch!” I felt like applauding.

6. Standing on the platform at Burlington was a heavyweight puffing away on a cigarette and complaining about how her (expletive) asthma is acting up. My heart bleeds.

6a. No doubt this is where our mayor would say I need to be more compassionate. I am compassionate. But don’t expect me to care more about your health than you do.

7. Dear Ms. Sweetness and Light who was our customer service ambassador on the Union-bound Lakeshore West train: The stop after Bronte is Oakville, not Clarkson.

7a. I hope ridding GO trains of the useless customer service ambassadors and replacing them with automated stop readouts and announcements will be among the efficiencies our new premier will find. Heck, even the antiquated STO, a system that makes Winnipeg Transit look radically advanced, has managed to implement such things on some of their buses.

8. Seated across the aisle from me on said LSW train was a woman with three kids in tow, each under the age of 10 and each with a tablet likely better than mine. Why do children under 10 years of age need a tablet?

9. Like, listening to all the chatter around me on the way there and back, I am, like, even more convinced that the most used word in the, like, English language is “like.”

10. At the Clarkson stop, a woman seated in the quad in front of me got up to go to the end of the car and dump something in the garbage, leaving her purse unattended on the seat. And it was still there when she got back. Once again, this is not the Old Country.

11. Leaving the Long Branch stop, someone got on the intercom and said, “OK, here we go again. When the train is approaching, stay well back of the yellow line. It’s not a good idea to be doing exercises on the yellow line.” If only I could have seen what that Darwin Award candidate was up to. But in any event, here’s another case for allowing the law of natural selection to run its course.

12. Spotted on the #2 subway line was someone with a sketch book drawing a portrait. Even on a weekend, there certainly are enough interesting characters to use as subjects.

13. At the end of the car I was in was a lever to pull to stop the train in the event of an emergency. Can you just imagine how often that would lever would be pulled if there was such a thing in Winnipeg?

14. On the packed Airport Rocket bus that took me from the Kipling station to Terminal 1, I was one of two token Caucasians on board. Yet governments continue to justify discriminating against me because of my skin color.

15. This charging station that costs $6.49 to use was right across from a free charging station with multiple plugs. I could only surmise that this was an IQ test.

16. With all the blubber on display at Pearson, airlines should be able to charge for overweight people just like they do for overweight baggage. Same goes for VIA Rail.

16a. Some of that blubber was on a security guard who waddled by. What exactly would he be able to do if there was a problem?

17. Outside near the ALT hotel where the terminal link train ends was this sign directing motorists to a cell phone lot. Is this a place to park your cell phone?

18. Staff at Pearson actually wear a mask in addition to gloves when taking out the garbage, unlike a former workplace of mine where staff dug into trash cans with their bare hands.

19. There were so many disciples of Mohammed at the international arrivals in Terminal 3 that, if I didn’t know better, I would have thought I was in the Riyadh airport instead of Pearson.

20. Walking through the terminal, I spotted a woman in her late 30s with hot pink hair. Grow up. You’re not 18 anymore.

21. Given how Pearson was my landing point after my defection from the SPRM nearly four years ago, it kind of feels like Ellis Island would to those who came across the ocean to start a new life in North America so many years earlier.

22. The low-floor chairs in Terminal 1 were comfortable enough, but awfully difficult to get out of.

23. On the return trip, a noisy family was busy snapping photos of themselves on the subway. I know Niagara Falls is a popular spot for selfies, but the subway?

24. I support bikes being allowed in subway cars, but there should be a designated area to store them safely in the event of a sudden stop. In Buffalo, bikes are required to be in the special wheelchair section and in Minneapolis, there are special racks in every car to stand them up in.

25. Upon my arrival in this part of the world, everything seemed so overwhelming, but today, I move around like a local.

26. On the crowded #1 line was a guy with his feet up on the handicapped seating. He’s lucky someone didn’t decide to just sit down on them. Not that I know of any such experiences personally.

27. Seated across from me in that subway car was a big shot who was bragging about her “special skills.” Like how to paint your toenails a lavender color?

28. Also in the same subway car was someone with a T-shirt with “Quebec Canada” written on it. Well, which is it, Quebec or Canada?

29. Pigeons foraging for food near the McDonald’s in Union Station:

30. Seated across from me on the Burlington-bound LSW train was a 20-something millennial with her newly purchased espresso machine who began munching on a plate of sushi. Then when I pulled out my notepad, she got up and moved to a different car. A snarky writer with pen in hand is indeed dangerous.

31. In addition to the sushi, an older woman was munching on a greenish wrap and a guy in the quad in front of me was trying to shove a loaded six-inch sub down his throat. It was more visual proof that people really don’t care what and how much they eat.

32. Walking through the parking lot at the Oakville stop was a guy with a T-shirt with “This guy needs a beer” printed on it. Methinks he also needs AA.

33. The ride home on the #12 bus was made a lot more pleasant thanks to GO finally deciding to offer the express bus to the Falls which siphoned off much of the riff-raff.

34. The couple seated in the first two rows of the upper level spent much of the ride passing huge homemade muffins back and forth. Each seemed to take a bite or two, then pass them back across the aisle.

35. A luxurious motor home on the QEW had a “Roughing It” sticker on the back. And I suppose they think staying in a five-star hotel is also “roughing it.”

30 Jun

Visiting Queen’s Park on Kathleen Wynne Freedom Day

Observations and pictures from my voyage to and from Queen’s Park on the occasion of Kathleen Wynne Freedom Day:

1. Waiting for the bus at Fairview Mall watching everyone busy with their phones, I couldn’t help but reflect back upon a bygone era when cell phones were a luxury that only the big shots had.

2. A quintessential Canadian bus:

3. When I had last taken the bus 10 days ago, they were resurfacing large sections of North Service Road between Vineland and Beamsville, but when I went by yesterday, I noticed the work had already been completed. In the Old Country, such a project would have taken two summers.

4. The A & W in Grimsby had a sign outside promoting their new Cod Fish Burgers. As opposed to their Cod Beef Burgers?

5. At the Nash and Barton stop, I laughed when I saw several Falls-bound travelers flashing their HSR transfers as if that was going to do them any good on the GO bus. Tip: You need a Presto card for that.

6. As our bus was approaching the Burlington GO station, a Burlington Transit bus whose driver was wearing a white top with black polka dots passed by, marking the first time I’ve ever seen a driver on any transit system out of uniform. Casual Friday at Burlington Transit perhaps?

7. Only a short time after it had finally opened, the Tim Hortons at the Burlington GO station has apparently disappeared:

7a. If it, in fact, has gone under, it marks the second Tim Hortons location I’ve seen in this part of the world to have bit the dust, the other being at the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge. Contrary to popular belief, maybe a Tim Hortons franchise isn’t a license to print money after all.

8. If there’s anyone headed for Wrong Code, your bus is waiting at Burlington:

9. Spotted on the platform waiting for the Lakeshore West train was a guy busy on an IBM ThinkPad that he was delicately balancing against a wall and on his knee. Give it a rest!

10. The guy seated in the quad on the opposite side of the aisle at least had the decency to take off his shoes before putting his feet up on the seat in front of him. Unlike the guy I saw on the train on the way back.

11. The best seats in town:

12. Before heading to Queen’s Park, for some off-color humor, I took a stroll through the Church-Wellesley district, where seemingly everything is adorned in gay-themed rainbow colors.

Gay Pepsi.

Gay nurses.

Gay crosswalks.

Gay flags.

Toronto’s only gay-owned pharmacy.

Gay beer at a gay beer store.

Parking for gays only.

Gay funnel cake.

A gay bank.

And finally, a gay bum.

Enough already!

13. While walking through said neighborhood, I spotted a Muslim woman walking into an apartment just off Church. Hmmm. As I understand it, Islam isn’t exactly compatible with homosexuality. In fact, don’t Muslim countries hang gays?

14. Did you just assume the repair person’s gender?

15. I’ll keep an eye out for those flying procedures …

16. At Queen’s Park, I spent nearly two hours on the grounds mostly waiting for our new premier, The Honorable Doug Ford, to address the masses who had come from all across our great province to hear him speak and repeat his oath of office.

Save for one protester, the crowd was mostly tame. There were cheers when someone yelled “Trudeau Sucks” after the playing of O Canada, and seeing the scowls on the faces of the “journalists” from the fake news media was easily worth the fare in getting there.

I was squished in among a group of reformed ex-NDPers who had worked on Ford’s campaign, and several people before and after the ceremony remarked on my “Make Speech Free Again” hat, the same one Ford himself commented on when I saw him here in St. Catharines.

Although the common folk were kept at considerable distance, it was important to be there and I was glad to have represented St. Catharines on the important and historic occasion of Kathleen Wynne Freedom Day. It was representation we sure didn’t get from our local PC candidate, who did an outstanding job of deep-sixing a free ride to Queen’s Park by sitting on her behind. Honestly, I got the feeling that Doug Ford did more campaigning in St. Catharines than Sandie Bellows did. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

16a. Dear Andrew Scheer: When you come to St. Catharines today, in addition to raising funds and drumming up support, you need to seriously work on getting a credible candidate to run here for the upcoming federal election. Don’t be afraid of parachuting someone in. And please tell the local EDA that you will not approve the nomination of either Mat Siscoe or Sandie Bellows.

17. I think the cart is full …

18. Inside Eaton Center, I stopped at a Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up some badly needed liquid refreshment. The small size of the drink I chose was $2.79 and the large size was $1.99. Shrug.

19. Bikes chained to the scaffolding right next to the sign asking people not to chain bikes to the scaffolding.

20. On Bay Street, I spotted a guy hauling a loudspeaker on a two-wheeler with music blasting so loudly I could hear it from a block away. Why? Isn’t there enough noise and commotion in downtown Toronto?

21. While on the Lakeshore West train on the return trip, I listened as the guy in the quad in front of me was helping his buddy at the other end of the line interpret the directions on his GPS. Driving tip: If you’re lost on a busy freeway and can’t figure out what to do when your GPS tells you to bear right, for the love of Pete™, get off at the next exit and ask someone for help before you get yourself and/or others killed. Better yet, consider turning in your driver’s license.

22. Not everyone was as lucky as I was to get a seat on the Niagara-bound bus as GO chose the day before the long weekend not to offer an additional express bus to the Falls, the way they usually do for most of the summer. As a result, I was treated to several noisy, screaming children and someone who elected to forego the use of her headphones as she was listening to music.

Mixed in among all that, I listened as someone ran down Brantford and explained how he wanted to set up a blacksmithing business in St. Catharines and a boyfriend-girlfriend couple seated in front of me were having quite the spat. I heard so many F-bombs from them that, for a moment there, I thought I was back in the Old Country.

29 May

Back to the Universe’s Center

Highlights and pictures from yesterday’s tour of the universe’s center:

1. Free cane:

2. Why would a street hockey tournament in Brantford be advertising on St. Catharines Transit? I know people in this part of the world think nothing of long commutes, but a one-hour drive just to play street hockey seems like a bit much.

3. Spotted on the QEW were trucks from Bison Transport and Winnipeg Motor Express. As I’ve said before, the SPRM does follow me around.

4. The pickup truck the bus was following while crossing the Burlington Skyway had a bumper sticker which read, “I used to care, but now I take a pill for that.”

5. Our GO bus driver sure didn’t let those solid white lines he crossed at the North Shore Boulevard exit cramp his style at all. Fortunately, however, traffic was moving slow enough so that it wasn’t a problem as he moved out of an exit-only lane far too late.

6. If the Lakeshore West train I was on had to stop suddenly, there were a couple of sleep-deprived women with their heads leaning against the window who would have been in for one heck of a jolt.

6a. Everyone else in my car had their heads buried in their phones. Except for me.

7. Under the heading of Something I Didn’t Need to See: A woman standing in the aisle nearby had an ass big enough to damn the might Mississippi. As my father would say, she needs to buy her dresses at Ontario Tent and Awning.

8. Again, under the heading of Something I Didn’t Need to See: A young couple seated across from me on the #1 TTC subway line were feeling each other up and the guy had his hands in his girlfriend’s crotch. As my mother would say, get a room!

9. Someone was having fun with this sign at Christie Pits Park:

10. Assorted characters at Christie Pits Park:

You won’t likely get much sound from the video, but I could hear the woman in the wheelchair from a block away as she was twirling around and filming herself before catching sight of me filming her and retreating across Bloor Street.

11. Click here for scenes in and around Koreatown.

12. No camera can capture the horrible smells coming from the various eateries around there. But I did capture the sight of what looked to be a cucumber perched inside an abandoned plate of mushy red guck. Koreatown in a microcosm.

13. Is this where people air their dirty laundry?

14. Along Bloor, I passed by someone wearing a T-shirt with some small printing on top, then “Read Something Else” in a much larger font written below. Shortly thereafter, a cyclist passed me wearing a T-shirt with “Come up to my room” written on it. It’s almost scary to think how many people earn their living coming up with slogans and messages to put on clothing.

15. The local Communist Party candidate was sharing space with a fortune teller. You can’t make stuff like this up.

16. Once again, someone stopped me on the street asking for directions and, despite not being a local, I was able to point him in the right direction.

17. Why on Earth would anyone care enough to go into such a place, let alone pay $14 for the privilege?

18. Is it any coincidence that the sign on the right is in NDP orange?

19. Shots from Philosopher’s Walk on the UCU campus:

20. Spotted this Liberal bus parked at Queen’s Park. No doubt they’re packing up and getting ready to leave. As Doug Ford says, the party’s over.

21. Oh yes, please enlighten me on this Liberal “compassion” that has put more than 300,000 Ontarians out of work, jacked up the provincial debt to record levels and made life so unaffordable for low-income families that many have to choose between heating and eating.

22. Obligatory shot of the Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips Square:

23. With temperatures breaking the 30-degree mark, I think this guy might have found it a bit warm in that jacket:

24. With those warm temperatures, I took the opportunity to explore the underground walkway system. Unlike a certain other part of the world, there were no beggars or bums like this one caught on video in Winnipeg Square taking a dump in a planter:

25. Spotted in front of Union Station was someone offering her half-eaten relish-filled hot dog to a beggar. Rather than accept the gift, however, the beggar began asking where she got it before turning away to try and solicit funds from another passer-by. Picky beggars these days, aren’t they?

26. On the Burlington-bound Lakeshore West train, I listened as a young Muslim woman of Somali origin moaned and groaned about how some friend of hers expects her to know everything and talked about the proper ways to prank someone. Then as she prepared to disembark at Port Credit, she complained bitterly about how complicated her life was because she had a phone plan with no data before leaving her partially-finished Tim Hortons beverage on the seat.

27. The guy in a suit seated across from her also left a complimentary beverage behind. Folks, this is GO, not Winnipeg Transit.

28. Every car in the lot at the Bronte station had one of these blue reminders of the proper way to vote in the upcoming provincial election:

29. I think I was the only one who boarded the #12 GO bus back to St. Catharines without any luggage. Tourist season is indeed back.

30. Among those tourists were a number from Quebec who were seated around me. Across the aisle was someone who was on the phone the entire way to St. Catharines and often put it on speakerphone so that half the bus could listen in on both ends of her conversation. I hope she is made to feel just as welcome in our country and I was when I visited hers.

12 May

Retour à l’Outaouais

Highlights and lowlights from my third train trip in as many years to Ottawa, where I spent much of the time on the wrong side of the Rivière des Outaouais:

1. Watching the driver on the #12 GO bus shaking his leg all the way to Burlington reminded me of a slightly mentally challenged former colleague many years ago who used to do the same thing at his desk for hours on end. Thankfully, our driver did not exhibit any other tendencies that would lead me to question his stability.

2. At the Beamsville stop, the rainbow bench was still AWOL and the reward sign posted for its return was also gone, but there was a big, heaping pile of garbage in the bin that badly needed emptying.

3. If the shoes fit …

4. Someone walked through the Burlington station then boarded a Falls-bound bus with his unleashed dog following along. Since when is this allowed?

5. In the washroom at the Burlington station, rather than simply unzip his fly, one guy opted to pull his pants down to his knees before doing his business at the urinal. As a long-lost friend once said, “no visuals please.”

6. As we passed the Willowbook train yard on the Lakeshore West train, there was a sign that read, “Caution: Watch for trains.” Better to remove the sign and let the law of natural selection run its course, if you ask me.

7. While waiting at Union Station, I was accosted by someone looking for spare change for a coffee. After I declined to donate to his favorite charity, he turned to a nearby sucker who gave him a quarter.

8. Oatmeal was on the menu at The Bagel House, but it was only available during the week. I guess the designated oatmeal guy doesn’t work weekends. It is, after all, a complex dish that requires years of culinary training to prepare properly.

9. There was a flighty young woman running after a train whose boobs were flopping so hard that she undoubtedly had bruises all around her rib cage by the time she got to the platform. Tip of the day: Invest in a bra.

10. Seated nearby in the York Concourse was a guy with a big beer belly stretched out and breathing heavily. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought he was about to give birth.

11. Signage in Union Station is already being changed to reflect the new name of the former ACC:

12. Good to know that on Sunday, my train was indeed a Sunday departure:

13. Some kid with a hockey stick in hand was skating through the VIA concourse on roller skates. Maybe it’s just me, but it seemed like an odd place to look for a pickup game.

14. Call me ultra-picky, but I think it’s best to check the spelling before carving it in stone …

15. Among those boarding the Ottawa-bound train was someone who looked to be Kim Jong-un’s pudgy teenage son.

16. Aboard the VIA train, I recognized one of the service attendants I had on last year’s trip. What made him stand out was that he was pleasant. Because with VIA, it’s not an adventure, it’s a job.

17. Rolling through Oshawa, I spotted a cyclist riding on the left side of the white line despite having a wide bike lane. It reminded me of the times back in the Old Country when, while returning from Birds Hill Park along a very busy PTH 59, I would regularly see cyclists who preferred to go elbow-to-elbow with cars and big rigs speeding along at 60+ mph rather than use the paved shoulder that was just as wide if not wider than a car lane. No doubt those were the same yahoos who complained the loudest about not getting respect on the road.

18. Nearby in my car, three people paid for their “food” by credit card. What was noteworthy was that rather than employ some sort of electronic system, the service attendant had to rub the card against carbon paper with his thumb. Now that’s really old-fashioned. At least in the stores, they had a device with a swipe handle.

19. Among those paying with a credit card was a fat guy across the aisle who rang up a big $5 purchase for a Coke and bag of Doritos that he enjoyed thoroughly. Don’t people carry any cash these days? Especially when traveling.

20. Our car was pretty quiet except for a foursome of 20-somethings who, like, couldn’t open their, like, mouths, without, like, saying like. Like, give it a rest.

21. After the first pass, the second and subsequent food cart runs were done with lightning speed and any passengers looking to buy anything could be forgiven for blinking their eyes and missing the guy as he sped by. Once again, it’s glaringly obvious that VIA personnel care little about serving customers and trying to make a little extra money for their employer. All they care about is fulfilling the terms of their union contract to the letter and the faster they fulfilled that obligation, the better.

22. When they made a garbage run, I tossed my empty Tetra Pak into the black bag. That was apparently a major no-no as the service attendant angrily tore it out of the plastic bag I had wrapped it in, crushed it and tossed it into the white one his colleague behind him was holding. Well, excuuuuse me! No doubt, I’ll probably get a few points deducted off my VIA Préférence account for that egregious transgression.

22a. At least they were wearing gloves, unlike the case at a previous employer when they would come around and empty garbage cans with their bare hands. Once, they even fished out a bloody snot rag of mine out of the bin.

23. When going through Brockville, I spotted the Broadway Dance Academy. On Park Street.

24. On the platform at the Fallowfield station, a woman lit up while talking to her friend who had her two young kids in tow. How incredibly considerate.

25. Upon leaving the train station, I was aghast to see so many cabs waiting. If every single passenger on the train had taken a cab, I think there still would have been some left over waiting for a fare.

26. Dear City of Ottawa: Please assign someone the task of washing the windows in the pedestrian walkway over the 417 linking the train station to the ballpark and convention center.

27. En route to the Ottawa Train Yards Wal-Mart to pick up some food for the next few days, I was approached by a Caucasian woman in her late 40s. After first asking me if I spoke English, not a given in that part of the world on either side of the Rivière des Outaouais, she proceeded to give me a long sob story about how her sister was stranded at nearby St. Laurent Center with her newborn and wanted to know if I could give her bus fare. Which I declined to do.

Angry and grumbling, rather than go back to St. Laurent Center where her sister and the newborn allegedly were, she proceeded to follow me toward Wal-Mart, not bothering to hit up the next guy who passed by on the sidewalk. I kept a careful eye on her and when I turned off on a side street, she kept going.

I had to hand it to her, though, as it was a pretty creative line. These days, the beggars really are getting better at their craft. But if they devoted half as much energy into earning money as they did in trying to con people on on the street, they wouldn’t need to resort to such things.

28. Inside the Wal-Mart, there were so many disciples of Mohammed that I wondered if I was in the Ottawa Train Yards or the Tehran Train Yards.

29. Also inside the Wal-Mart, I spotted a fat woman with a tub of Haagen-Dazs in her cart. Cause and effect.

30. Shots of the Cancer Survivors Park taken on the way back to the hotel:

31. The hotel finally got the hint and stopped leaving copies of the National Post outside the door of every room each morning.

32. While eating breakfast on Monday morning, one of the staffers came by and was surprised that I was sitting in her usual spot where she stops for a break. Funny, I wasn’t aware it was reserved seating. For a moment, I thought I was at our photo club, where everyone seems to have an unofficial assigned seat.

33. Unlike the case last year, the STO buses I took on this trip were of modern vintage with automated stop announcements complete with an LED display near the front. My driver on Tuesday morning even said “merci” after I tapped my Presto card. History was indeed made on this trip.

34. Another one for the history books came when someone boarded at Rideau Center on Monday morning and began speaking to the driver in the Canadian language and again committed that heinous infraction before getting off at les Promenades station. No doubt, la Sûreté will soon be issuing warrants for their arrest.

35. Soon after getting off at Station de la Cité, I spotted a teenage girl headed for the nearby Cégep wearing a short skirt that barely covered her backside yet also wearing a thick fur-lined parka. An odd combination if I’ve ever seen one.

36. Clever little display outside a bike shop:

37. As I got closer to Boulevard Gréber, I got an awfully foul look from a heavy-set guy in his late 50s who passed me on the sidewalk. It is a look I would get again later in the day along the Lac Leamy trail from someone who did a severe double-take after looking at my “Make Speech Free Again” hat. It was probably the combination of the message and the fact that it was written in the Canadian language, something that could have gotten me tossed in the same jail cell as the aforementioned passenger and STO driver.

38. I heard a “rumeur” …

39. There’s nothing “routine” about a dish that looks like a cow with diarrhea unloaded on a plate of fries.

40. La Ville de Gatineau thinks it makes perfect sense to do street cleaning on a busy roadway during the Monday morning rush hour. I would wager that the majority of its residents disagree.

41. Near the A-50 interchange at Boulevard la Vérendrye, I spotted this orange chair on the ground. Perhaps it was left over from the $9.50 ice level seating at the Winnipeg Arena.

42. Walking down Rue du Barry, I was approached by a Jehovah’s Witness who handed me a pamphlet and said something in Quebecese. Yes, they have them all over the place. Even in Quebec.

43. Also on Rue du Barry, I saw someone on a mobility scooter eschewing the sidewalk and going on the road. Normally, I strongly disapprove of that practice as we spend oodles of money making ramps on sidewalks. But in this case, I couldn’t blame him given the deplorable condition of the sidewalk. Just as I noted last year, given how much money that country sucks out of Canada and the extent to which they tax themselves, what on Earth do they spend it on?

44. When I went to the washroom at les Promenades and again later at les Galeries de Hull, I had a surprisingly hard time deciphering the gender of the silhouettes. Just put the text in there and I’ll figure it out.

45. The level of courtesy on the Canadian side was certainly nothing to write home about, but it was much worse on the Quebec side. Several times on my travels, I stopped to let cars pass and not a single one waved to thank me. I even held the door open for someone at les Promenades and didn’t even get a grudging “merci” out of it. Even Toronto looks really good by comparison and it made me appreciate St. Catharines so much more.

46. A couple of shots at Station de la Gappe, one of the Rapibus stations I passed on my travels:

47. While stopped at this little park off Rue Jacques-Cartier where, oddly, a Canadian flag was flying, I saw an older woman walk across the road without looking, forcing a cyclist with the right of way to stop to avoid hitting her. Then two guys in scooters went by side-by-side, taking up both lanes on the two-way bike path. Once again, the lack of consideration was palpable.

48. Shots of a tour boat docked near the Pont Lady-Aberdeen that spans the Gatineau River:

49. A three-way stop sign in Quebec:

50. Scenes along the Lac Leamy trail:

51. At the very busy intersection of Boulevard du Casino and Boulevard de la Carrière, an older guy on a bike was going the wrong way and didn’t budge as a big rig was trying to make a difficult turn to avoid turning him into compost. Bienvenue au Québec!

52. As I’ve said before, the SPRM just keeps following me around:

53. Even in Quebecese, I can spot misspellings such as this “burreau”:

54. I shudder to think of how much I paid for this “art”:

55. Approaching the Macdonald-Cartier International Bridge, I noticed this sign instructing cyclists to walk their bikes across. It is a regulation I haven’t seen obeyed during any of my crossings of that bridge.

56. Though I remain satisfied with the hotel, I was unable to use the safety lock in the room and this thread on the carpet was there throughout my stay. Given that they only spend about three and a half seconds vacuuming each room, I suspect that it’s probably still there.

57. As I noticed last year, the sidewalk on Wellington seems to be a speedway for cyclists and anyone waiting for a bus at the busy stop right in front of the Parliament buildings needs to keep their head on a swivel.

58. On Tuesday morning, when someone got off the #33 STO bus I was on, he said “thank you” to the driver. There are times I wish I had that kind of nerve.

59. Some artwork on the grounds outside Cégep Gabrielle-Roy:

60. An NDP supporter who needs to work on his spray-painting skills:

61. Approaching Saint-Raymond from Cité-des-Jeunes, I started hearing a bunch of sirens, then I looked to my left and saw the billows of smoke coming from this car on fire:

62. In my return trip to les Galeries de Hull, I stopped into one store that sold books and novelties. All the books inside the store were in Quebecese and anyone wanting a book in the Canadian language was forced to go to a special section by the entrance, almost as if they didn’t want the rest of the store polluted with such vile material.

Just imagine if anyone tried such a thing on the Canadian side. I can just hear the cries from the perpetually aggrieved Quebecers who would complain bitterly about being stigmatized and excluded.

63. English training is allowed in Quebec?

64. Crossing Saint-Joseph at Rue Amherst after getting a walk sign, a cyclist coming the wrong way down Saint-Joseph blew off the red light and would have run into me if I did not stop. He didn’t apologize or as much as turn his head and instead kept going down the street. Bienvenue au Québec!

65. At the A-50 interchange at Boulevard des Allumettières, this bum was approaching cars stopped at the red light presumably looking for donations to his favorite charity:

66. Near Place du Centre was a man and a woman standing in the middle of the sidewalk busily chatting away. When I passed them for the second time, I made no effort to avoid the woman’s bag that she was swinging out. If you want to act like jerks, expect to be treated accordingly.

67. I noticed these cleverly designed bike racks outside Place du Centre, which are good for areas with limited space. Standing your bike up, you hook up your front wheel near the top and lock the frame to the pole.

68. Shot of Gatineau city hall:

69. On the Alexandra Bridge going back to Canada, the pathway was chock full of cyclists and joggers going on both sides of me. It’s much less congested on the other bridges and if I should make a return visit, I’ll make a point of avoiding it.

70. Shot of the Parliament buildings from the overlook on the Canadian side of the Alexandra Bridge:

71. While going through Byward Market, I spotted a “Diversity Barbershop.” As they say in Texas, El Paso. The last thing I want is a left-wing political lecture while getting my hair cut.

Also spotted in the area was an “Upward Dog Yoga Center.” Yoga for dogs?

72. Speaking of dogs, I saw very few of them in my travels on both sides of the border. That’s about the only good thing I can say about the area.

73. On the bus ride back to the hotel, one woman got on and asked the driver for some directions. Once satisfied she was headed in the right direction, rather than take a seat on the largely empty bus, she opted to stand right by the door and obstruct the narrow passageway. Many people getting on and off over the next half hour were forced to squeeze past her, including one who obviously had some problems with her leg, yet this jerk would not budge, even after the driver told her that her stop was not coming for quite a while.

Farther down Vanier, she then pulled out a piece of paper showing the driver where she needed to go. We were then made to wait while the driver called into dispatch for directions and then draw her a map pointing the way.

Look, I get being a tourist. But when I go to a different city, I do my homework. Just like she should have done. It’s not fair to jump on public transit and expect the driver to be your personal travel concierge. Next time, if you don’t know where you’re going, hail a cab.

74. While eating breakfast on Wednesday morning before leaving to catch the train, three guys in suits came into the dining room with stethoscopes around their necks. No, the food wasn’t so bad that they felt they might have needed them. They were just showing off.

75. Parking fail at the VIA station:

76. At the VIA station, it wasn’t until past 8:15 that they began allowing passengers to board for the 8:25 Toronto-bound train. So rushed was the process that people were still walking through the car and getting settled when the train took off. Note to VIA staff, try allowing for a little extra time instead of walking around chatting with yourselves.

77. At the back of the car was a group of young boys from Fern Hill School, a private school in Ottawa only about a block off the #9 bus that I’ve since become very familiar with.

78. Over the next four hours, I would learn a lot about the big-shot federal government employee in front of me who was traveling with her annoying and very restless daughter. Ms. Big Shot spent the first two hours reading and replying to emails regarding CCS policy documents and gaps and unclear points in legislation. She then made sure to ask for a receipt after ordering a sandwich and drink, no doubt so she could get me to cover the $9.75 cost.

Once we got past Kingston, she began to check real estate listings and did some searches as to where to live in Victoria. Her next target was a furniture store in France, where she had her eye on an easy chair for 100 euros.

While perusing furniture, her daughter was busy chomping on chips half a bag at a time, which sounded like she was crushing boulders, all while listening to music on her high-quality Bose headphones. Nothing but the best for the daughter of a government employee.

79. Across the aisle was a fat woman who ordered a ham croissant she hardly needed for $7.50 and was reading a book on how to present yourself on social media. As I would later learn, she was going to Toronto for five days for a convention.

80. I listened as Pierre, our service attendant, explained to another passenger that he had been with VIA for 12 years. He said that though they didn’t have a good reputation when he first started with them, today, they’ve got the best in the industry. Sorry, Pierre, you and your colleagues still have a lot of work to do.

Interestingly, he bore a striking resemblance to Dale Hunter, the ex-Quebec Nordique and current coach of the London Knights.

81. Nearby on the Burlington-bound Lakeshore West train was this salty looking dude hauling a couple of well-worn suitcases in a baby stroller:

Rather than take a seat, he was leaning against a pole, using a rolled-up sweater as a cushion. Later, the pole became too uncomfortable for him, so he went to lean up against a wall. Then he dug out and began eating some pistachios from a bag he got at 30% off, being at least considerate enough to pick up a shell that fell on the ground.

Before he got off at Port Credit, I noticed some brown stains on the back of his shorts as he was playing with his troublesome right ankle.

82. I know the sign at the bottom is meant to indicate hailing a cab, but it’s much too similar to a Nazi salute.

83. On the #12 GO bus back to St. Catharines, they had installed a new floor-to-ceiling luggage rack just behind the wheelchair seating on the first level. Given the amount of luggage I’ve seen on Falls-bound buses over the busy summer months, it was long overdue.

20 Apr

Three Days on the Road

Observations from a busy three days on the road earlier this week:

1. The rainbow-colored bench at the Beamsville stop is again AWOL and someone isn’t too happy about it. Posted inside the new shelter is a sign “Wanted: Safe return of rainbow bench. Reward.” I’ll say this for the LGBT community, they are determined.

2. Also spotted at Beamsville was a truck from Industrial Commercial Environmental with the big letters ICE plastered on the side. Taking that truck over the river would undoubtedly send illegals scattering like rats.

3. Facing the QEW in Stoney Creek is an office for Manpower, a company that obviously has not fully embraced gender inclusivity.

4. Call it a hunch, but I get the feeling this student driver still has some learning to do:

5. The Tim Hortons at the Burlington GO station is now officially open, capping off an epic five-year construction cycle that had to have involved Manitoba contractors.

6. Spotted on the UP Express train to Pearson was the Toronto Equine Hospital. Couldn’t they just call it a horsepital?

7. On the Lakeshore West train was a new automated announcement, “Friendly reminder: Keep your feet off the seats. The person sitting there after you will appreciate it.”

8. Parking fail:

9. Seated across the aisle from me on Tuesday’s bus ride to Burlington was a heavyweight who was badly hooked on his smokes. Soon after taking his seat, his snoring was loud enough to wake up the dead, but he managed to wake up in enough time to crack open a Pepsi before his stop at Stoney Creek, where he again lit up within seconds of his feet hitting the pavement.

10. The sign at the Dixie Mall in Mississauga pointing hungry customers away from the food court:

11. Proficiency in the English language is obviously not a requirement for anyone working at the Tim Hortons in Markham where I had my lunch. I had an easier time understanding the clerk at the Subway in Gatineau and I’m anything but fluent in Quebecese.

12. The Kennedy Square mall in Brampton had a distinct odor that suggested it was an exterminator’s preferred client. Maybe even his only client.

13. But domestic objects are OK.

14. It cause me inconvenience none …

15. And so is you …

16. Dress “royaley” …

17. Especially on Tuesday, I lost count of the number of trucks I saw from the SPRM. The most popular carrier was Bison Transport, whose offices were only a ten-minute bike ride away from my last house there.

18. Inside the King City ONRoute. Sure beats those Manitoba rest areas that have nothing more than a rickety old outhouse.

19. At the snow-covered Barrie waterfront:

20. As Yosemite Sam once said, ya better say your prayers, ya flea-bitten varmint … I’m-a-gonna blow ya to smithereenies!

21. This reminds me of the burrito place I spotted in Toronto’s East Chinatown recently …

22. At the Port of Collingwood:

23. It’s nice to know they have a special theater for the LGBT community in Collingwood …

24. A tribute to Shania’s twin?

25. View from the basilica in downtown Guelph:

26. In Elmira, I found Dan Snyder’s grave and got a shot of the Woolwich Memorial Center, which houses the Dan Snyder Memorial Arena. Both shots will be used in a future book on the history of the Atlanta Thrashers, the team that, as a former Manitoba taxpayer, I was forced to purchase for Mark Chipman.