Sunday, April 25, 2004

A Streetcar Named Shame

At least one man in Toronto had a rough Thursday afternoon.

And I met that unfortunate man's friend, we'll call him A, as he tried to solicit streetcar fare at Yonge and Dundas.
With suspiciously fresh n' minty breath, A explained that his buddy had been shot and that he needed change to make the fare so that he could rush to his friend's side and whisper things like "Everything is going to be okay", "Hang in there", and "Don't follow the light" into his fallen pal's ear.

If my chum was going to whisper encouragement into my ear, which I will add is quite close to my nose, I should hope that he would show me the same courtesy as this fine specimen. His breath was beyond reproach, even from my standing position halfway down the streetcar! It was as if someone had open a window on a blustery January day only to discover that it was snowing and blowing Mojito out. Dee-lightful!

Patience, not brevity, was the soul of his wit, and it eventually paid off; but apparently some riders had their doubts regarding the validity of A's story, or the severity of the injury caused to his friend.

A, having reached the summit of his goal, now faced the challenge of descending safely into a seat. By the expression on his face, this was a taxing decision. He was considering seating options with the careful attention of a Bride-to-Be examining Reception floor plans. While he weighed the alternatives available, a tiny voice squeaked:

C- "You! Sit down!"

Not the most offensive thing I've heard squeaked on the streetcar, I must admit, but to A this was an attack that wounded him deeply. He turned his entire attention to the complainant, relieved, in my opinion, to set aside the seating issue for a bit.

Focusing, as best as he could through eyes glazed over with welling tears, he gave the speaker a thousand yard stare that was meant to be withering and critical.

Everyone was on the edge of their filthy red seats, waiting for what would happen next.
Pause. Pause. Pause.

Finally A broke the silence. Slowly he admonished:

A- "There are women and kids on here--women and kids! Shame on you. Shame."

He pointed, but his finger roamed from person to person, as if to indite all those on board for the perceived slight. Then he collapsed into a seat and muttered, "Shame!".

Things were starting to settle down, which in Toronto takes about ten seconds, when inspiration struck and A leapt to his feet, and dove at the yellow 'stop request' cord. Straining under A's weight, the 'stop request' cord cried 'DING!' and the streetcar stopped. Off A got.

No hospital in sight.

Only the 'New Moon Cafe', it's window reading "Bottle Beer. Draught Beer. Free Internet."

Head hung low, A solemnly crossed the 'New Moon' threshold.

Does have E-cards that communicate the idea, "I'm sorry that you got shot up"? I don't know.
Even if the internet did offer such thoughtful sentiments in an E-card, I doubt OHIP covers bedside ethernet connections.

Clearly, OHIP must join the 21st Century; or hospitals must become more competitive and offer bottle and draught beer.

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