Did you ever hear the one about the Amish guy, the subway train at rush hour and the hordes of angry Torontonians? No?! Well, let me fill ya in.
Yesterday as Emerald and I were beginning our journey home, we were sharing our subway car with the usual mix. An unusual addition to the mix though was a group of three Amish folk. Two of them were sitting in the seats, one was meandering around inside the car. He got bored as we waited to go (it was the end of the line, the train stops for a bit) and wandered out onto the platform.
As he is toodling around outside, doing nothing in particular that I could discern, the train gets ready to leave. To move on down the track and out of the station, so that all the other trains on that line could continue moving efficiently and get everyone home nice and smooth-like. You know, like trains do.
Now, I don’t expect people who don’t live in a city with a subway train to know how they work, to be familiar with the system, the protocol. And neither did the people who designed the trains for the TTC. If you ride the train long enough, you learn to recognize the sounds that indicate you’re about to move. Of course, not everyone has this well-trained transit ear. So, we make it easy for you…..
When the train is about to shut the doors and leave, BRIGHT ORANGE LIGHTS FLASH OVER EVERY SINGLE DOOR AT THE SAME TIME THAT A LOUD OBNOXIOUS ‘DING DONG DING’ GOES OFF OUTSIDE AND INSIDE THE TRAIN.
This way, if you are hearing impaired, you can see the lights as an indication to get your ass on or off the train. Alternatively, if you are vision impaired, you can hear that the doors are about to shut. Easy, right?
Apparently not for our restless Amish traveller. He wasn’t alerted or alarmed in any way to the flashing lights and dinging noises three feet away from him. Oh no. Unphased.
So imagine his surprise and disbelief when the doors started closing, seperating him from his two friends smart enough to sit their asses down and wait to go.
He panicked, and bolted towards the closing doors. He squeezed his body, minus his right arm and the suitcase he was hanging onto with his hand, into the train. Lacking the strength to push the doors back open and faced with the prospect of losing his arm in a tunnel, he released the suitcase and pulled his arm into the train.
Now. For a guy who didn’t understand how to get on or off the subway, I was amazed at the speed of what he did next. Without skipping a beat, he smashed the Passenger Safety Alarm. I don’t know how he even located the damn thing, read the instructions, thought it through and decided to hit it all so fast.
He. Hit. The. Safety. Alarm. The train came to a screeching halt and immediately we were accosted by a high pitched, constant whining tone. The doors of the train were locked shut and we had nothing to do but wait until the emergency personnel arrived. Nothing to do that is, except for yell at our moronic travelling companion. And yell we all did. The entire train car groaned in unison. Swears were thrown out with no abandon.
He looked astonished that we weren’t all breathing a sigh of relief, for now he could get his damned blue suitcase back. He posed a question to the entire car, “Why can’t I open the door? How do I open the door??”
To which Emerald, bless her heart, blunty and loudly stated, “You can’t! You hit the EMERGENCY alarm! The train is stopped, you’ve locked it down and now we probably have to wait for an ambulance and the TTC officials to show up! GAWD!”
We all sat there, passively fuming in our oh-so-Canadian way (getting mad without getting mad…….it’s a thing we do) for a few minutes while people gathering on the platform stared at us as though we were animals in a zoo. We stared back.
The TTC personnel arrived and the one worker became very agitated when he realized there was no emergency, only stupidity.
Upon entering the train, and thrusting the blue suitcase in front of him, he loudly asked, ‘Who the FUCK threw this onto the platform???’ (Ah, I love this city).
Amish guy claimed it, chuckling and stuttering and trying to explain the situation. What was most amazing is that he seemed genuinely clueless about what he had done, how he had stopped the entire subway line, how everybody was giving him the cut-eye for messing with their commute and forcing them to listen to a high pitched buzz for the last few minutes. It didn’t strike him as strange at all to ask a city of 5 million to fall at his knees.
We then continued on with our trip, uninterrupted.
Now, here’s the thing. It was obvious due to this person’s background that this may have been one of a handful of times in his life that he was on the subway. That’s cool. I’m alright with that. I will gladly give people directions on the subway. But I dont feel that that was a valid excuse in this case.
Hundreds of newbies ride the TTC every single day. I’m willing to bet a good half of them don’t speak english, and that a good half of them have never or have rarely taken a subway. But, they all manage to figure out the drill. Wait for subway. Get on subway. Ride. If they forget the protocol, remember, we’ve made it simple for them with the FLASHING ORANGE LIGHTS AND DINGING prior to departure of the station. It’s a stimulus. People respond. Monkeys respond to noises and bright lights. This guy didn’t.
It pisses me off that I had to have my commute wrecked by a guy less reactive than a monkey. I don’t want to be there the day a car is sliding on the ice, honking and flashing his lights to alert the guy to move his ass out of the way. He’d probably smile and wave.
I hope he got fined. Oh, and in case you’re wondering…….the correct answer would have been to ride to the next subway stop, get onto the train going BACK to the original stop, and get your suitcase. Stupid does not equal emergency. Thanks for playing.