On why I’m a big jerk

I take public transit (TTC, in Toronto) every day. Actually, I take it twice a day-to and from work. In any given week I spend at least 10 hours on the bus, subway and/or streetcar. Like most people, I use that time to read, do crosswords, watch other passengers and avoid the crazies. I once bought language CDs to brush up on my French, but they required me to talk aloud, which, believe me, no one appreciates.

I like to think of myself as a seasoned TTC professional, the best of the best. In the Top Gun that is public transit, I am Ice Man. I fly cold, with no emotion. I think in terms of time and space: how much I have and how much I need to get ahead. I know the quickest routes, all the transit etiquette, and when to give up and hail a cab. I know how much time it takes me to get to my destination, depending on the time of day and how fast I walk.

Because the TTC does not revolve around my convenience, I have a pretty unforgiving transportation schedule. Missing the bus could mean walking in the rain, being late for work or just raising my already-too-high-for-a-twenty-something blood pressure. I REALLY don’t like to be slowed down. And this is where my story begins.

It was another end of day. I walked (briskly) to catch the streetcar, got onto the sweaty vehicle of disease and waited for my stop. Ironically[i], I spent some time thinking about blogging on transit etiquette because some kid and his mother butted in front of me when I was getting off, which was a mild irritation. I don’t mind ruthless “rocketeers”[ii], but I expect that, when I get cut off, it’s because the person is travelling faster than I am and will hurry out of my way.  Skippy and his mother had no such urgency. They forced me to make an abrupt stop and I wasn’t pleased. Without being too dramatic, it’s important that you understand how much every second matters.

I let it go when I went underground. I was walking down the stairs to the train when I heard it coming. And I knew it was my train because I have come to learn TTC noises as one learns how each of their family members walks down the hall. Anyway, I knew I had to pick it up if I had any chance of making it.

Naturally, everyone in front of me was sauntering down the stairs. They were scattered in such a pattern that I couldn’t really pass anyone. I heard the train stop. I was getting desperate. I started manoeuvring around people until the last stair came and the chimes (to indicate the doors are closing) started ringing. “This is it,” I told myself. I pushed the last person out of the way, while yelling sorry and squeezing on just as the doors were closing.


Except, not really. But here’s what you need to know before you judge me. The pregnant woman that I pushed was in no way injured, making me *less* of a bad person. She didn’t fall or bump into any walls. She did, however, have quite a mouth on her and showed no restraint yelling how unimpressed she was with me.

Yep, I pushed a pregnant woman. And everyone on and off the subway saw me. If they didn’t see me, they heard her swearing at me. I don’t know how Jesus Christ was implicated, but she seemed to be mad at him too. No matter what way you slice it, I am a monster.

As the train started moving and I came to realize what I had just done, I tried to apologize to her through the glass with my facial expression and a mouthed ‘sorry.’ But she glared at me through the glass and pointed to her stomach, reinforcing how much of a heartless weasel I am.

Needless to say, I was really embarrassed. My fellow passengers were visibly disgusted with my actions and it was one long ride home. I could imagine them thinking to themselves, “Was she in that much of a hurry that she had to shove this poor woman with child?” The answer is no. And yes.

Objectively, pushing pregnant women is sinful. It’s one of those things that really gets to people. You can watch a movie with the most horrifying, gruesome stuff, but if someone is violent towards an expecting mother, the gloves are off.

On the other hand, it was 5:30pm on King St.  High volumes of people have to get home. It’s not the time for tourists, mothers with toddlers and, in this case, pregnant women to be doddling around the subway. They’re not the ones who have the daily, burdensome commute[iii] .  My bus comes at 6:02pm and if I miss it, I’m walking.

You can rest assured that when I get pregnant, I will likely be eating my words. And even now, I regret what I did. The question now is: had I known she was pregnant would I have done it again? I would like to think I wouldn’t. That said, I did catch my bus, and just barely too.

[i] The irony comes a little later

[ii] This name, the rocketeers, is what their brilliant marketers came up with. I don’t know what agency the TTC has hired, but my suspicion is that the creative director used to be a kindergarten teacher. I’m surprised I’m not awarded a cookie every time I get on the bus. It’s bad enough that we have to ride the damned thing, but the daily patronizing is that little extra that will send someone over the edge.

[iii]And yes, I respect that they have burdens of their own to carry. But it’s not like I’m in their territories, stomping around during nap time.


4 thoughts on “On why I’m a big jerk

  1. This actually made me laugh out loud.

    If it makes you feel any better, I once pretended to be asleep when I saw a senior getting on the bus. (Yes, it was priority seating.) I figured someone else would offer her their seat and I was feeling selfish that day.

    Ok…truth be told I cracked after one stop and asked if she’d like to sit down. Do you know what happened?

    She snapped, “I’m not that old!” and gave me the dirtiest look in the universe.


    Gotta love Toronto.

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