Saturday, May 29, 2010

Waiting For The Train - Heartfelt Memories of a Night Best-Forgotten

I don't mind taking the train. Despite the seemingly toxic mix of sky-rocketing ticket prices and floor-scraping service provided in hateful spoonfuls by our local rail operator, I still enjoy the train-going experience. It is on this subject that I find myself writing this blog entry. I know, I can't wait to read it either.

Arriving at a fashionably late 9.42pm for my 9.30pm train, I knew that I would be looking at an almost hour-long wait for the next Westbound train to screech into the platform to mark its 10.30pm arrival. Waiting at the station has become a common occurence. But as an avid people watcher, the wait usually goes by quickly for me. Sadly, the same cannot be said of my fellow inmates trapped in this public transit prison, as they edge away from the people-watching foreigner, looking at their watches nervously as they pull their belongings tight to their painfully uncomfortable steel seats.

As I was walking up to the Ticket Office to confirm that I would be serving a 45-minute custodial sentence in this railside Alcatraz, I noticed that a group of teenage girls were squawking at the tired old Ticket Attendant. They were, it seems, upset over the cost of a ticket. While I completed agreed with their central complaint, I felt sorry for the elderly gentleman behind the plexi-glass who, presumably, was not the multi-millionaire benefactor of this railway extortion operation, certainly not if his grey apron and matching nametag was anything to go on. No. "Station worker Francis" was just a victim.

As these young girls "like"d and "omg"'d their way through their confused complaints: "Like, how much does it cost you to print a ticket?!!" etc,  I caught the eye of another woman in the station. She gave me an eye-roll and then mouthed something like "stupid teenagers." My lip-reading is awful, though. She could have been trying to say "stooping meat-haters" - in any case, my reaction was to smile and then, sensing the anger in her mouthed words, nod sternly in agreement with her cloaked pronouncement.

It was my turn next to speak with Francis.

"What?" - the first word spoken in my relationship with Francis was a crossed one.

I could tell that we were going to be close friends.

"Hey", I began.."Could you tell me when the next train is arriving?

"Ten Thirty," said my new best friend, without looking at me.

I would have used to the wait to get to know Francis a little better. But then, I feared any further questioning would have been instantly followed by my swift and violent death via the sharp end of a pen attached with thin, knotted string to Francis' workspace.

10:10pm: By this point there was only twenty minutes left until the train arrived, so I went to take a seat in the steel chair-like contraptions that stalked the perimeter of the station. Using my peripheral vision while playing around with my phone, I could tell the man sitting beside me was glancing at me periodically.

I looked up and my red-haired trench-coat wearing chair neighbour used this opportunity to ask me the following question : "Would you like to read my newspaper when I'm done with it?"  An intriguing question, since, it seemed to suggest that he wasn't done reading now, but i would be first in line to recieve his newspaper after he's finished.

Confused, I responded "Sure.. thanks." 

"Okay, I'll let you know." Chair Neighbour said, continuing to read.

I couldn't deal with these head games anymore, so I went outside to enjoy some yard time in the fresh night air. By this point, the gang of gaggling teenagers had made their way outside too and were taking turns to puff away on some sort of community cigarette. The eye-rolling woman from inside was picked up in an expensive car, and in the process of locating the leather front passenger seat with her rear-end she leaned out the door long enough to advise the noisy smokers to  "start acting like fucking adults and be quiet, because my friend is a police officer and he would have arrested you if he saw what you were doing inside."  Odd, how the promise of a quick getaway can bring out the honesty in people.

10.24pm :  It was almost time for my release. I followed the advice of the LCD screen on the right-hand side of the station entrance and made my way to Platform 1, from which point my getaway vehicle would escort me home. Bounding up the stairs to Platform 1 like a gleeful child, I almost tripped on the final step in my excitement, only sticking the landing thanks to some fast reactions and the motivation of a rather large  mysterious blue stain on the once concrete-coloured concrete floor.

10.32pm: There was still no sign of the train and a skunk made its way across the track. I noted to myself that I should not run across the tracks and jump in the bush on the otherside, as it appeared to be infested with rodents. As I was going over the possibility of spending the night with the bush-dwelling animals, the train bell rang out in the distance. About time.

The feeling of seeing those green and white carriages make their painfully slow way towards the station was worth the $10 alone.

I watched the station get smaller in the distance from the window of the quickly-accelerating train.

Free, at last.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Write Me Up a Prescription, Stat!

I'm not much of a scientist. Sure, I walk around my house in a white lab coat and say "stat" while giving orders to anyone within ear-shot. But other than the odd game of buck-a-roo-operation that I personally invented, I've never dabbled in the sciencey stuff. Yet, I've always held out hope that one of my theories would be proven true.

Well, it's finally happened : science has caught on to the idea that Guiness, the world's favourite meal in a glass, is actually good for you. Apparently, as well as being delicious and mysterious, Guiness can prevent heart-attacks.

From the BBC :

"They believe that "antioxidant compounds" in the Guinness, similar to those found in certain fruits and vegetables, are responsible for the health benefits because they slow down the deposit of harmful cholesterol on the artery walls.

The researchers told a meeting of the American Heart Association in Orlando, Florida, that the most benefit they saw was from 24 fluid ounces of Guinness - just over a pint - taken at mealtimes."

And my favourite quote from the entire article :

"Pregnant women and nursing mothers were at one stage advised to drink Guinness - the present advice is against this."

Good thing they mentioned that, eh ladies?

Now that science has finally figured out that a pint of Guiness per day might actually be good for you after all, maybe they can start working on the intricate calculations required to make people stop drinking more than one pint. They should ask the guys who invented Molson Canadian, 'cause they nailed it.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

One Man's Trash

Today my next door neighbour is having a garage sale. It's an exciting day in the life of a neighbourhood when a person puts their belongings on  plastic tables beneath the afternoon sun and offers up their memories at bargain prices. After a brief 2-minute mosey next door, I discovered that today's memories include but are not limited to such items as :  picture frames, a coffee maker, a microwave, a Nascar toy collection and possibly best of all, a t-shirt that reads "what's up, bitches?" (Sadly, its XXL fabric expanse would have acted as a blanket/parachute for my not XXL frame. One man's trash and all that.)

Every 20 minutes or so, a new person comes by to wander around the smattering of tables on the front lawn - lifting the coffee maker to check for breakages, measuring the picture frames (I'm assuming to see if the t-shirt would fit within) and pressing buttons on the once white-coloured microwave.

If this afternoon's gathering is anything to go by, bikers love garage sales. Earlier, there was a wave of black leather riding atop a sea of silver steel outside my living room window. That must be the infamous antiquing gang out of Hamilton, Ontario.

The event is now coming to a close it seems. The initial neighbourhood buzz about the microwave finally ebbing way, the remaining items are being packed (read : hurled) into a cardboard prison from which they will surely never escape; not if the ominous black marker label "basement stuff" is anything to go on.

About twenty minutes ago, midway through this blog entry I had the idea of giving them $20 to buy everything, and then immediately setting up my own table outside on my lawn and re-selling their items for profit to the numerous folk still lingering in the area. But obviously I decided against the idea, for fear of  A) being referred to as the "the guy who sold me that t-shirt," and B) upsetting a neighbour who may have some sort of gang affiliation.

All that's left now on the lawn is a sign that reads "Cheap Housewear". I think I just figured out how they could make use of that t-shirt AND save money on their heating bills.