So Last Friday came. I was out running one of my events at the Raq N’ Waq on Queen Street near Bathurst. Everything was going well, the weather was warm and cooperating, people were friendly, conversing and the drinks had flowing freely. I had even managed to get a few free from our nice brunette waitress for our group. Still don’t know why though. Then at 11:45pm, my friend Kristina text messages me “Hi. Don’t know if you know, the TTC is going on strike at midnight. You may want to let your members know.” Damn.
I passed on the bad news. As fate would have it almost everyone lived downtown. Phew. Well except for two of us. A member, Reggie lived in Scarborough, I lived near High Park. Both quite far for walking, specially after midnight. As such Reggie paid and made a quick dash, in the hopes of catching a lingering street car or a snaring a cab before the frenzy home began. As the organizer, I am always one of the last ones to leave any event so I stayed until everyone was ready, that was at around 1:15am.
Once outside, most managed to squeeze into taxis. I unfortunately was heading the other way. Thought of catching a taxi –each one I saw however was bursting with passengers– so much of that idea. So I decide to walk… at least part of the way. “It would be good for me,” I sold the idea to myself, ignoring the fact I could just as easily get mugged too.
After deciding on a safe route, backtracking Queen towards Bathurst, then north until Bloor and then west until Dundas West seemed like the better way. As you can imagine, Bathurst was surprisingly busy with cars and people cursing the TTC as they did the same thing I was doing: Getting home. Needless to say, the animosity was quite palatable. It tasted like burnt BBQ chicken.
You will be surprised what comes into your mind when you are walking by yourself for a few hours. Recently I have started looking for a job. ‘Did I say everything I could in those last three cover letters? Was I straight forward enough? When will they call?’ Then once that fades, you start thinking about more meaningful things. ‘Is that where I want my career to go? I don’t want to end up like those people who work for a company for eighteen years, look like zombies and are only going through the motions until quittin’ time!’ By the time a got to Bloor St. existential questions started creeping up and questioning a lot of life decisions. ‘Why am I not married yet? Are you sure?’
Existential questions after only two drinks? Impossible. I thought it silly. It wasn’t the alcohol, that’s for sure.
Then again, it could just be that I had the time and place to think. After all, It was beautiful night. Serene.
As I begun rushing west, I began feeling quite lonely as most people stayed near the beehive that’s the Annex in order to catch speeding cabs. I called another friend, Matty who was surprising awake and gave me much needed company for almost forty five minutes before succumbing to her illness: She had the flu and she just went off to bed. Nothing serious! She told me about her week, her trials and tribulations. I was very lucky to have her to chat. When the streets are almost deserted, having someone speaking to you through a phone gives the feeling of walking through an ocean with one long line tethered to the outside world. Funny. Whenever you feel alone is great to just listen to someone who really wants to share her mind with you. In the end, it felt like I had walked for only thirty five minutes. In reality it was almost an hour and half.
Made it home at about 3:00am. My feet hurt, badly, my heels in particular. Kids, don’t ever walk with dress shoes for two hours straight. Is that how women feel after a night with high heels? I felt sorry for female social standards and the obliged footwear. The silly things that come into your mind when you walk for a few hours. I made some choices regarding the jobs I would apply to in the future. I also had a quick reminder of just who my real friends are. The ones who will text message in the middle of the night, warning you about something just because they know out and about. Or who will keep you company at 2:00m, even though they are sick just because they do not want you to walk all alone. Including some realizations of the direction I want my life to go and the fact that I decided to kill myself a little by buying some McDonald’s near my place at that unholy hour.
But you know that, hurting feet aside, I think we should all do these more often. Take the long way. You never know the things you might think of when you make the time.
I am sure I will be one of the few to say this, but thanks TTC for your last minute strike.
Just don’t do it too often.