Use your Sleeve! You Pig.

Derelict Citizens: Use your sleeve!

The City of Toronto and the Toronto Transit Commission jointly released an ad campaign on Nov 9th throughout TTC stations reminding commuters to use their freshly washed garments as stopgaps for bacteria which literally already live in every cubic meter of air we breath. Including inside subway cars, by the way.

Thanks TTC! Who knew aside a shrinking ridership, disappearing budget and a fleet aging faster than six week old banana bread you are now teaching us things our parents taught us when we were six years old. I mean, we are talking about everyday common sense for God’s sake.
It is a necessity, people forget! It a public service!’ Would the naysayers scream? ”Where were you during the Avian Flu scare?’ Would the hypochondriacs retort? Alright, all valid points which I will promptly discard down my trusty memory garbage chute. Good bye and good riddance.

You see, for the longest time I have been telling people that common sense is paradoxically not that common. People aught not be reminded about something that in this day and age should be considered common — and sure I dare say it?– basic sense. Sure the road to hell is not paved with posters of a woman coughing into her sleeve but I do see it as a misappropriation of limited funds. Practicing common and basic hygiene: Like washing your hands or making sure you do not sneeze into other people’s nostrils is not TTC’s responsibility.

How ironic would it be for a commuter to be thankfully reminded of using his sleeve as a rogue cough conspired to sneak past him only to be rundown by a flying back-wheel from a faulty and aging bus only minutes later as he waited for his usual rush hour trip. Yes, highly unlikely but it would hurt a lot more than a rendezvous with the flu.

Which leads me to my main point: In this era of budget cutting, where city services need to constantly prove their funds are achieving a set of concrete goals or fear having them cut off their next fiscal year. Then why, oh why is a Megacity’s transit system spending from already lean coffers on anything then transportation improvements? Cardboard ads do not make my trip faster, comfortable and bring a rainbow to my day.

I cannot not recall NYC Metro ever reporting pandemics running rampant on their subway system. And trust me, if there was ever a system which would definitely benefit from being entirely douched in hundreds of gallons of Mr. Clean, they are it.

Add to it the recent revelation that the TTC will be running on a $1 billion deficit over the next five years! [Toronto Sun reports: here]

On a more insightful –or market motivated note — if you are going to tell people to seed their own garments with viruses why not go the extra mile and get models using designer handkerchiefs?

Designers: Be the first to inundate the Holiday season with eye catching and colourful handkerchiefs with extra absorbent and out-of-this-world germ genocidal properties! Be the first to stop germs in style. True mavericks would soon create left and right sleeve sneeze patches. Better yet: Introduce the first ever Le Homme and Femme Manchons Collection! Have a model sneeze on a high tread-count fashionista statements and just kickback and wait for the money to start coughing in! The Quebecois nation would love them!

Just Picture the panache revolution this is bound to turn into! Imagine the innovation and statements it would create! I can already imagine the tag line: “Maybe Sick, Yet Always Chic.[*]

Alas, the TTC lacks such foresight, and why? Because they aught to be using their limited funds to improve their infrastructure first, not half cooked attempts at educating people basic hygiene.

Look at the Montreal Metro for example: Realizing people do not want to just travel to and fro. They built a streamlined system with a high reverence for design and art. In fact, some stations are considered tourist attractions all by themselves. So now tourist actually pay a fare to see architecture that had to be there in the first place. Now, how modern and avant garde is that? It surely beats our Stalin-era inspired subway stations. Want to see what we are missing? Click here and scroll down the pictures on the left hand side for a taste.

In my humble opinion, they aught to focus on the positive aspects of their service and innovate rather than to remind –and some would say: scare– an already declining ridership of the rare possibility of catching the same virus I could as easily get while shopping at Holt Renfrew.

Even if the ads border on public warnings, the gains on such enterprise are minimal at best. As the question that ultimately gets begged is: ‘Why even try?’ Leave the educating of health issues and practices to the Ministry of Health. I pay my taxes TTC, now let them do their job!
It is bad news for consumers when the commission tries to expand too far from their core business and into more trivial –yes, you heard me– trivial exercises. Since the most expected side effect of this is the degradation of its core services.

Ultimately, does the TTC brass really think day-to-day passengers are unable to remind fellow travelers to be more health conscious? Sure we Canadians, we are re-known for our polite nature but no one ever said we are like meek sheep to the slaughter or that we lack a good chunk of spine. We are not pushovers. Come one TTC, gives us your clients some credit, we’ll tell that pig to cover his mouth and save you some ad money while we are at it.

[*] — My ‘slogan,’ if you would like to use it, remember to send me royalties.

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