Thursday, November 22, 2007

Urban Observations

What is it about the first snowfall of the year that turns people into such idiots? Have they forgotten how to drive in snow between last winter and this one? The same thing happens every year around this time, people. It's not a difficult concept.

J and I went to a play at the NAC the other night, and I arrived a bit early so I got to hang out in the lobby for awhile waiting for her. Our appointed meeting place was near the box office, which is right at the main doors, so nearly everyone who arrived for the play came in right past me. After awhile I noticed just how many of the new arrivals were bickering as they came in. I have known couples who bicker a lot, and as much as you tell yourself that it's just their way of communicating and they don't mean anything by it, it always makes me a little uncomfortable. I just thought it was sad how many people would get dressed up and come out for an evening of great theatre, and spend it bickering.

Btw, the play? Very well done, and we enjoyed it very much. It also had possibly the weirdest final ten minutes I've ever seen on stage. As we were leaving J said to me "I'll let you know tomorrow whether I liked it or not; right now I need time to digest it" and I thought that pretty much summed it up.

There has been a bit of a kerfuffle here in Ottawa lately over the failure of the bus drivers to announce upcoming stops on their routes -- it's getting a lot of publicity right now because of a blind passenger who asked to have his stop called out and was ignored, and therefore ended up lost in a different part of the city and unable to make his transfer. OCTranspo's proposed solution was a multi-million dollar automated system that would announce the stops, and they wanted the city to pay for it. As budgets are being slashed around the city and transit fares are already among the highest in the country, the reaction of just about everyone else was "or, you know, the drivers could use the already installed microphones or even, shockingly enough, raise their voices to call out the stops." OCTranspo has promised to try this. So in my very scientific survey of the bus routes I ride regularly, I have discovered that just like every other time when you require a group of people to do something, some drivers are refusing to do it, some are doing it grudgingly, some are doing it half assedly, some are doing it cheerfully. And some are doing it with their own ... shall we say "unique" style? I encountered one such driver one night this week on my way home. He was providing a running commentary much like you might receive on a tour bus, announcing each upcoming stop and also providing information about the services, landmarks, and stores you might find around each stop. The twist was, he was delivering it all in the most Eeyore like monotone I've ever heard. A sample: "Next stop, Bay and Albert. Last chance to transfer to the transitway. If you want. I certainly don't care. It makes no never mind to me. I'll just be driving the bus. It's up to you. Transfer if you like. Also, you might want to stop into the Quickie and pick up a Krispy Kreme donut. They're carbalicious. If you like donuts, that is." Later he provided a "weather" report ("Currently, it is dark. It will remain dark for several hours, at which point it will likely not be so dark. Until it gets dark again."), commentary on other routes ("Here you can transfer to the #2 to Bayshore. The long way to Bayshore. Bring a book." Anyone who has ridden the #2 will know how true that comment is!), and helpful reminders ("Please remember to take all your belongings with you, hats, scarves, purses, small children, packages, etc."). It started out amusing, quickly circled around to irritating, and by the time we reached my stop it had cycled all the way back around to amusing again.

City living, b'y. Nothing like it.


You Look Like A Nail said...

I was wondering why they were doing that now.

I might have had that same bus driver. He'd announce the stop and then continue on, at length, about god knows what.

I believe, on that trip, we heard about family togetherness, the growth of north Kanata, how horrible the turn at Teron and March is, how he's written a letter to Peggy Feltmate about how horrible the turn at Teron and March is, and how we all need to go home and write letters of our own to Peggy Feltmate about how horrible the turn at Teron and March is.

alex said...

I remember this one time last year I was riding the TTC subway down to Union and it was the night of a Leafs game. After every stop announcement the driver would click on and say "Go Leafs" in a really short way. At first I thought I was imagining it but after a couple of stops I started laughing.

I miss TTC.