Tuesday, May 31, 2005

the better way

Waited a few minutes for the streetcar at Dundas Station tonight. Not unusual - after rush-hour, those cars seem to show up whenever they darn well feel like it. One of my favourite songs is playing on my iPod, the weather is nice - no biggie tonight, the waiting. When the car finally slithers in, I'm one of the first people on - just in time to watch crazy man #1 get on behind me. He's gotta be in his mid-late 50s, balding, what hair he has remaining is slicked-back, Homer Simpson three-strand-style. He's wearing tight faded jeans that haven't seen the inside of a washing machine since their first 'stonewash', a silk shirt (hang on, ladies) undone to mid-stomach, several random chains, large beat-up leather bomber jacket on top of it all. He's carrying a hardshell guitar case and a bag from McDonald's and has a dog (named Roxy, as we were all soon to learn) with a leash trailing him (the dog is attached to the leash, but the leash is not attached to CM#1). As soon as he gets on the streetcar, he starts talking (to Roxy, maybe?) about how he's going to 'jam', doesn't want any quarters or 'hasslin', just wants to 'jam'. Man. As he makes his way to the back of the streetcar, the driver (aka Crazy Man #2) stands up at the front of the car and YELLS to my motley fellow passengers and I "This car is leaving in THREE minutes" and stomps off the car. Ooooo-kaaaay. Obviously someone is having a rough night. I take my iPod headphones off, because it looks like CM#1 is getting ready to perform at the back, and this (I suspect) will be too good to miss.

Sure enough, CM#1 seems to be in fine form. First, he just sort of bangs around back there, getting settled, opening his guitar case, closing it, pulling out a Big Mac and eating it Mastodon-style (we're talking MAX three bites), frequently calling shit out to Roxy who is cruisin' the rest of the car, gettin' to know us, peeing on the exit door pole, that sort of thing (seriously). He finally gets Roxy back to his seat, when CM#2 returns to take us all home. CM#2 starts the streetcar with much honking of horn and ringing of bell - presumably to warn Roncesvalles in general that we are en route. As soon as the car starts to move, he goes on the mic and says "those of you standing had better find something to grab on to because I ain't slowing down for no corners".

And we're off. CM#2 wasn't kidding - I'm holding on for dear life, and trying to help the poor girl beside me who is juggling bicycle and book bag and groceries as we zoom toward home. Around this time, CM#1 starts to 'jam'. Apparently 'jam' = wigged out improvised blues/country sort of wailing, with lots of "Roxy!"'s interspersed. Because of the erratic streetcar, poor CM#1 is really sort of flailing about at the back - legs are flyin', elbows akimbo, crouched over, sitting straight, one leg up, guitar neck all over the place. More interpretive dance than music performance, really. Maybe he went to York, they're big on interdisciplinary arts there. Anyway, then Roxy jumps up in his lap, and inspires a disgruntled sort of blues chorus of 'damn bitches always want attention'.

MEANWHILE, CM#2 is doing the strange streeetcar driver-cum-tourguide routine that they occasionally pull. You know, OVER solicitous. Verging on outright sarcasm. A girl gets on, says thank you when he gives her a transfer, he's all "No, thank YOU." He's calling out all the stops, telling us completely unsolicited things like "Dundas St - connection to College streetcar via Dundas, College and Carlaw". I mean, as if everyone on the car is a tourist instead of tired people taking the same streetcar they take EVERY DAY.

At about this point, CM#1 has had enough of the streetcar/rollercoaster ride and starts to heckle CM#2 from the back of the bus. "Hey man, what's the rush? This your first shift? You trying to kill us all or something'?" Sarcastic CM#2 replies "I'm just trying to get home to my dog, he's been alone for 12 hours." Then starts to rant about how CM#1 is a "juicy fruit" and how everyone who rides the streetcar is an unappreciative bastard, and how we complain when he's late and then have the nerve to complain he's driving too fast, etc. etc.

Ah, the symphony of disgruntled ttc employee and crazy guitar-playing man. It played all the way to Queen Street, where CM#1 got off the car, loudly complaining (still to Roxy) about the "asshole driver", and the driver is giving it right back to him saying "Oh Yeah? Don't forget your dog, man. Man's best friend. Obviously YOUR best friend." etc.

Thankfully, only one more stomach-twisting corner and I was able to pull the bell, share a final smile/raised-eyebrows with my fellow 'normal' passengers, silently wish them luck for the rest of their journey - and escape.


Blogger Cupcake Man said...

hilarious story E :-). keep the streetcar adventures coming please!
btw i linked you to my blog - you can expect dozens of extra hits per decade, thanks to me

8:08 AM  
Blogger ers said...

Aw, thanks. Yer the best. Don't know what it is about me and strange things that happen while I'm on public transit...

9:33 AM  
Anonymous sarah said...

I laughed out loud through this entire thing. I almost want to say I wish I could have been there but...........no.

7:46 PM  
Anonymous Roro said...

HILARIOUS! I too laughed all the way through. Man, we used to have a bus driver JUST LIKE that streetcar driver on our way up to York. We nicknamed him Swervin' Mervin. The man took corners so hard, you were lucky if you didn't end up with your face in someone's lap. I'm sure some unlucky girl MUST got knocked up by by involuntarily banging so many guys on that bus. Clearly Mervin's got a new route!

8:45 AM  

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