Friday, 20 March 2009

Chronicles of the Transit Train

I haven't done much wandering lately (perhaps my sense of navigation is finally improving a bit? Maybe?), but in recognition that the name of this blog is, in fact, The Wanderer, I feel compelled to describe those travels that I have recently experienced. Namely, my trips on city transit.

Most days the train is extremely boring and quiet, and I get a good ten to fifteen minute doze on my way to or from the uni. Every now and again, though, something or someone interesting happens. There are all sorts of colourful characters that use public transportation.

Like the man with a ferret wrapped around his neck. It startled me a little, but it was pretty cute. I was sad when it tucked its head back under the guy's hood. Methinks it's a good thing that no rodent-phobic people noticed the wiggling little creature.

Every now and again I see men wearing red, green, and yellow trimmed clothing with the star of David and words like "Zion" and "Lion of Judah"... or was it "Lamb of Judah"? knitted into their toques. I figure they must be members of some sort of Judeo religion, but I haven't figured out which.

And then there was the guy who was about two inches away from falling asleep on my shoulder. And the one that never seemed to learn that if he wasn't hanging on to something when the train started moving, he'd lose his balance and fall into me. After he fell into me four or five times, I took to standing with my elbow pointed out at him. He only fell once after that.

The volume at which some people listen to their iPods never ceases to amaze me. If I can sing along from across the train car, they should probably turn it down. Although at least they think they're being quiet. On one occasion, someone had brought along a laptop, hooked it up to desktop computer speakers, and was purposefully blaring music throughout the car.

I've even see a few African men with tribal scars on their faces. And it's always interesting to see how the blind man with his seeing-eye dog get along without help.

The man and his wife who talked to me today on the train were fun. They were a senior couple, retired, but the man was quite flirtatious. It might have been a little creepy had his wife not been there rolling her eyes good naturedly at him. I learned a good portion of his life history in half-an-hour (born in Belgium in 1929, came to Canada to a tobacco farm in 1949 - though both he and his wife had stopped smoking - lived in Toronto for 50 years, traveled to Mexico to visit a brother every summer for 10 years, lived in Calgary for 2 years, has at least one son and two granddaughters). Every now and again he'd ask about my boyfriend until I told him I didn't have one. Then he asked about my husband, and I said I didn't have one. At that point his wife told him I was younger than that and to stop being nosy. He started gloating that I was still available, and that was why he was sitting beside me. His wife told me about how high-rise apartment buildings are installing backup generators for elevators and that St. Petersburg, Florida, was called the Funeral City, and that the reason her husband was never sick was because he spent all his time joking. "It's good for him," she said, "but for other people...?"

Occasionally a C-train operator is forced to use the loudspeaker system to tell people to squish closer to allow the doors to close, but few of them use the intercom for anything else. Yet there is this one operator that always announces the weather forecast for the day and welcome everyone downtown. And there was the one guy who forgot to turn off the intercom. Everyone on the train could hear him coughing away and sniffing and clearing his throat until he realized it was still on a good three or four stops later. I swear, everyone on my car was trying not to grin widely, but the smirks gave us all away.

There are always two highlights of the C-train ride (apart from disembarking). Or rather, I hold a hope for the two highlights, since neither is guaranteed.

1. On the train platform where I first get on the train, there is a chain-link fence across the tracks, and scraggly bush behind that. And more often then not, five or six black-capped chickadees are frolicking around, tweeting happily, without a care in the world. They're fat enough to be cute, but just small enough to fit their plump little bodies between the links in the fence, so it's like they're giving you a concert.

2. Chinook Station. I'm not sure who designed the Chinook Station, but someone there thought it would be a great idea to wire a little natural ambiance through the loudspeakers. Who wouldn't like listening to birds chirping when they're in the middle of a busy city center? Unfortunately, no one can tell if it's supposed to be screeching birds or screaming monkeys. Maybe it wasn't quite the effect the designers were going for, but it does make me laugh inside every time it's turned on. I will be sad if the city ever removes this failed attempt at peaceful background noise.

At any rate, I think the C-train probably leaves room for more interesting experiences than driving to school every day would.

“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” Corrie ten Boom


Bri said...

Ah yes... don't you just love people watching? =) And I'm not a huge fan of creepy people but I do enjoy talking with strangers.

art said...

I think you have ridden the train more than I have. The times I have been on the train, it has been quite boring.

I am glad you are getting more navitationally adept. Perhaps you will qualify to be a spy one day.