One of my dearest old chums and I decided to do some Christmas shopping together.
I was early, rummaging around the documentary DVDs at Sunrise, when my cell phone rang. It was him. He was late. His College Streetcar was not moving.
What was going on?
He didn't know; the streetcar in front of him was standing still as well.
Was there an accident?
Didn't seem to be.
Forty-five minutes later, he turns up with this big grin, bursting at the seams to tell me just what had taken so long.
Apparently, just after we spoke, everyone from Streetcar 1 filed off and piled on to his streetcar (#2). They were followed by a public health worker dolled out in some protective clothing and a face mask.
A- "Alright. Who was on the first streetcar there, raise your hands."
A general show of hands.
A- "Alright. And who was on this streetcar, raise your hands."
Another general show of hands.
A- "Okay. Anyone who wants to be tested, follow me."
His cavalier attitude did not go very well with his protective clothing.
People began to ask, quite loudly, just what the hell they might be tested for.
A- "Now, now, now--I can't tell you anything but that people on the first streetcar may have been exposed to a communicable disease. If you want a test, come with me. Going once. Going twice." (a casual look around) "Gone!"
And just like Kaiser Soseh, the public health worker was gone.
His ominous message connected with a few people, who began to file off the streetcar, and on to the Toronto Health Winnebago for their tests.
After a few minutes, Streetcar 1 patients began to climb back on to Streetcar 2, as Streetcar 1 was being thoroughly examined by several members of the public health squad. My buddy noticed someone he knew, and wanted to get to the bottom of what had happened.
C- "What the hell was going on in your streetcar?"
D- "There was this homeless dude at the back, and he was coughing and coughing, in mean, hacking all over the place. Then he finally gets enough breath to say, 'This is the worst TB I've ever had!!'"
Lovely. What a perfect statement.
My life experience only allows me to make such sweeping condemnations as:
This is the worst hamburger I've ever had!
This is the worst Pauly Shore movie my roommate owns!
This is the worst wurst at Kitchener-Waterloo's Oktoberfest EVER!
Nothing there, aside from the Pauly Shore movies, would strike a chord of fear in anyone. Not like the qualitative statement our dear, under-the-weather homeless gent is able to make regarding his "TB".
Apparently, after the subjective assessment of his own condition, a worried fellow-communter ran up to the driver, reported that someone at the back had TB, which set off a chain-reaction. Driver to control: TB present.
Control to Public Health: TB present. Public Health to Control: TB is bad. Control to Driver: TB is bad. Driver to himself: coffee break!
The cherry on top of all this hub-bub is that, in the stampede from Streetcar 1 to Streetcar 2, the suspected TB case buggered off! This is the best time to get the hell out of Dodge!
It is nice to see how much fellow Torontonians care about each other.
If I ever come down with some dangerous infection, I hope that my fellow citizens allow me to run off to a corner and die in peace. I also hope that my eulogy takes a page from the Public Health's crowd control manual:
He may have led a noble life, and could be fondly remembered by his friends and family. Going once. Going twice. . .