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19 July 2007

"Now I'd rather jump than pay."

In the Living Room, Toronto, ON, 23-Jul-07

"They're gonna book me

Things I saw as I stepped off the bus on this rainy morning:

A thick crowd of people with pursed lips, waiting for the streetcar.

There was a problem on the Spadina-University leg of the north-south subway line during the morning rush hour, which forced many commuters to find alternate routes, including me. The Bathurst car is usually full on a regular day, so on a day involving a service disruption it would inevitably be packed to the gills, and there would definitely be a wait to board. I decided to crane my neck at the gate to check if a car was on its way -- hopefully I would see two or three of them heading towards the station. If not, I'd have to make alternate alternate plans.

I couldn't see any streetcars in the distance, but I did see a squat, goateed man carrying a cooler approaching the gate. He bypassed the station entrance -- where transit fare is paid -- and calmly walked onto the streetcar platform. His nonchalance was somewhat impressive, though I didn't imagine he wouldn't be caught.

Sure enough, a remarkably Barney Fife-ish transit cop walked swiftly over to the man. I shrugged and walked towards the huge crowd of people waiting for the streetcar.

"Excuse me! Excuse me!" the cop was yelling -- at the man with the cooler, I presumed. Yet even after the man with the cooler had stopped in front of the cop, the cop was still yelling. I suddenly realized that the cop was yelling for me, too. Huh?

The cop looked at me and The Cooler sternly. "Did you just enter through the gate?" The Cooler didn't say a word. He just stared, which either means that he was a) playing tough; b) not fluent in English; or c) psycho. I, however, was not any of those things, and I had an alibi, so I provided it.

"I got off the 7," I told the cop, thinking this would be enough.

"You got off the 7?" he (sort of) repeated.

I nodded, my eyes hardening a little. "I got off the 7."

"Where did you get off the 7?" the cop asked.

Is he serious? I pointed to the bus stop. "I got off over there."

The cop didn't dismiss me, turning to face The Cooler instead, who remained silent. The cop beckoned to another transit worker who seemed to emerge from nearby bushes. A spy, maybe? How elaborate a sting! The cop asked his fellow employee if he saw me and/or The Cooler arrive.

"I don't know where she came from," the worker replied, jerking his head in my direction, "but he definitely walked through the gate." It wasn't exactly a vindication for me, but it wasn't an indictment, either, so I took it. For good measure, I gave the transit cop my best "I told you so" glare (which, honestly, wasn't so great). The cop shooed me away with a withering wave of his hand. Where is the satisfaction in that? I guess the cop is just young and eager to do his job -- he wants to do his job properly and as best he can, which I appreciate -- but if he's going to stake out transit offenders, he should probably keep his eyes on the scene.

I glanced back as I walked off. The squat, goateed man was still staring! Yikes. What did he have in that cooler?

TRACK LISTING: Beastie Boys, "Transit Cop"

[NOTE: The image above is a detail from pages 18 and 19 of Feelings between Kids and Grownups (Advanced Learning Concepts, 1974).]


/a said...

Ah, I am flooded with memories of Sockeye Salmon. What was the name of their OC Transpo-bashing song? Remember? Chris had that spoken intro... Help me out here.

Miss Imperial said...

I remember the bit...about fare hikes, no? At the end he predicted that in the year [blank] the fare would be [blank], and maybe he actually nailed the future there. I would be able to verify this last claim if I could remember his predicition. Also, I do not remember the name of the song.