Although I may proclaim to be quite skilled in the art of commuting, I do tend to get lost more often than I should but I promise that it is often not my fault. I take all the necessary precautions whenever I decide to travel from the far corners of Richmond Hill. I consult Google Maps to tell me when I should leave and what buses to take, I make sure I have my handy dandy Presto card and TTC tokens on deck, I make sure my phone is charged (as garbage as the battery is), and I make sure to give myself plenty of time to spare. How do I still manage to get lost? I talk.
Whenever I start to talk to people on public transit…
No matter who I am with, or where I am going I always end up engaging in a conversation with someone I don’t know. Just last week I was taking my girlfriend out to a French restaurant called ‘Batifole’ on Gerrard, when we sat across from an elderly man on the 506 streetcar. Within a minute of sitting down, we were in a conversation about the Toronto mayoral election and how the planned construction to extend the TTC was never going to happen. It may have been due to this man’s negative opinion on the TTC expansion which breaks my little York Region heart, or I might have not heard the automated TTC voice announce the stop for Degrassi, but either way we ended up missing our stop and being late for our reservation.
When I realize we’ve missed our stop
We ended up getting off 7 stops further than we planned, but quickly hopped on the next streetcar headed the other way to get to the restaurant and try to get a table. After a quick and light hearted scolding by the maître d we were able to sit at a table in the corner of the restaurant. Better than nothing, right? I mean, we were going to have delicious French food, share a nice bottle of wine and enjoy the ambiance of the restaurant with its intimate setting, candlelit tables and… fishnet leg lamp from A Christmas Story? What.
Must be Italian.
It turns out that this restaurant, before it started serving delicious French food, was a Chinese Restaurant used as the setting of the famous duck scene from the movie. If it hadn’t been for the man on the TTC, we would not have been sat at this table and probably wouldn’t have noticed the lamp in the corner, but now we learned a little bit of Toronto film history. More importantly we now have a fun fact to bore our friends to death with. Double win.
Even though I may preach about finding ways to make time pass by quicker on my commute, sometimes getting lost along the way makes you arrive at a greater destination. Or you could just be lost on a cold night with no more buses for another hour. It’s something like 50/50.
Obligatory Scott Pilgrim TTC gif
If you are anything like me, the commute to and from Glendon can be almost unbearable. I spend almost 4 hours sitting and standing on the TTC, Subway, YRT and Viva Buses every day (#2Fares), and am constantly coming up with different ways to pass the time. Below is a list I have compiled over my travels.
5. Draw the Person in Front of You
Keeping a pen and some paper handy is essential for any commute. Without being too obvious (read: creepy), try to sketch whoever is in front of you. Whether you draw them as a caricature or more realistic is up to you, art is subjective anyway. I can’t draw worth crap, so I tend to lean towards the more doodle-y style of commuter drawing.
4. Write a Subway Soap Opera
Sometimes, on the subway I will choose people to star in a soap opera. I come up with backstories for each of them without them knowing and play out scenarios in my head. For example, I might decide that ‘Guy With Bike’ is on his way to meet his mistress ‘Old Woman Napping’ but her husband ‘Crossword Steve’ knows about their affair and is plotting revenge. It’s surprisingly easy to come up with elaborate stories when the people involved have absolutely no idea what they are doing. The facial expressions and mannerisms of each actor or actress only adds to their character.
3. Listen to your Favourite Podcast
This is a personal favourite of mine. Do a bit of podcast exploring to see which ones might interest you, and start listening to them. A few of my favourite are Cracked, The Bugle and The Nerdist Podcast. Podcasts are very relaxing, and can actually become quite informative. I learned that the smell of freshly cut grass is actually a warning sign to other plants that danger is near. Grass tears never smelled so good.
BONUS TIP: Because podcasts have no visual component, it leaves you to double up on activities to do on your commute.
2. Do Your Readings
As nerdy or keener-esque as it may sound, the hours spent sitting on the TTC or YRT buses can be spent doing a reading or two for your classes, or reviewing right before a test. Instead of staring blankly at the subway map feeling pity for those that have to take the RT line, you can read a few chapters in that novel due for class tomorrow, err today.
Whether it is an early morning or a late night, grabbing a few minutes of shut eye is important. Trying not to burn yourself out from studying late at night (or watching an entire season of Scrubs on Netflix) is essential.
Me too 😦