October 21st, 2009

Games to Play on the TTC: Snark Projection

Regular readers of this blog will know that I spend a lot of time on the TTC and that I love it. It’s not a perfect system (I’m looking at you, big open U up north) but it functions admirably, and for $1200 a year, gets me everywhere I need to go, plus most places I want to go. I also love the openness to strangers and their lives that public transit gives me. When I stopped working in the service industry, I found I really missed the constant stream of new faces (although little else). Some days, the bus is my only chance to see any strangers at all.

The TTC is a fashion show, an easedropper’s paradise, a microcosm of etiquette puzzles (exactly how crowded does the bus have to be to make standing in front of the doors acceptable?), and chance for random acts of kindness. Of course, that last one is especially fun to watch: how many bookmarks, metropasses, gloves, and pieces of fruit have people rescued for me in transit? I see people lifting up the fronts of strollers, grabbing the arms of blind people, offering their streets to pregnant ladies, mentioning that someone’s tag is out almost every day.

But I also see a fair bit of bad behaviour. So, though you know it comes with (largely) love, this particular game is snarky. I have noticed a bad TTC tendancy has lately picked up force, and I don’t like it, and to comfort myself, I have been writing little storylets based on the bad behaviour.

On most of the newer TTC buses (since about 2006), the seats in the raised rear portion of the bus are in pairs beside the windows. I always sit at the back and have firmly internalized the bus-logic rule that if you are alone in a two-seat, you scootch over to the window if you want to zone out. It is permissable to remain in the aisle seat only if you are able to remain alert and immediately swing your knees out into the aisle if someone wants to set next to you (because there is zero leg room for someone to get by; the aisle person essentially blocks access to the internal seat).

BUT! Some people I’ve encountered lately have not only not been scooting over or putting their knees in the aisle as I angle for the seat, they have been meeting my gaze balefully, almost angrily, even when I ask if I might please sit there. They do actually let me–no one’s said no yet–but a lot of people have looked furious about the proceedings.

I don’t think the rules have changed since I moved to TO–but in order to not simply start hating everyone, I have been imagining the interior monologues of these people, trying to empathize with how they must somehow feel wronged by my desire to sit beside them.

Here’s what I’ve got, for only some of the encounters I have had.

1) I am in love! I am in love and texting my beloved! Texting is our bond! If I do not text him immediately, he might not know I love him! Textless, he might break up with me! Then I would be loveless, heartbroken, life would not be worth living. I might die. I see a shadow. There is someone standing over me, but I cannot stop texting “OMG, I <3<3<3 u!!!!!!" to see what this shadow wants. Clearly, it is less important than love. Even if the shadow is in love with me, I am spoken for. Probably. Unless the shadow is super-hot...maybe I should look up? 2) That young woman is clearly young and slender, while I am feeling fat and old today. My friends tell me that I am neither fat nor old but they are lying so that they won’t have to deal with my problems. I’m not going to squinch up in this narrow little molded plastic seat, I’m not going to let her make me feel fat. Alone, my thigh can perhaps inch a bit over the seat divider and no one cares, but if that little gym rat were sitting next to me, she’d shift awkwardly away and make me feel like a big fat cow. No way am I letting her insult me like that. She can stand on her gym-toned legs. 3) That young woman has a big ass. If she sat down next to me, I would have to squinch awkwardly into the aisle to accomodate her ass. After a hard day, I deserve to have full access to my complete molded plastic TTC seat. I am not responsible for her lack of willpower regarding molasses taffy. She should stand–it tones the glutteal muscles. 4) I am in a gang. Gang members get full control of the back seats on busses. How can you not know this, lady in the tights with flowers on them? Clearly, you are not in a gang, but you should still respect the entitlements of gang members. See this enormous cubic zirconium in my left ear? See this silver flip-phone with rhinstone bedazzling? This is bling, flower-lady. Where is your bling? Ok, you have bling, but it is in the form a butterfly broach. Are you in the butterfly gang? No, no you are not, because there is no such thing, and therefore you have no right to any seat in the back row. They are all mine. Go away, and come back when you’ve joined a gang. What do you think–am I close? I know this is sort of game is a poor substitute for accepting that people are a little rude sometimes, but I like my way better. Please, feel free to play along! RR

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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