Subway Games

I have been living in the city for a couple of months now, and I feel like I’ve adapted very well. I’m a duck to water. I love the pace of the city. There’s always something happening, someone to meet up with, new events and friends around every corner.

There’s also a lot of shit that you need to get used to, such as not being able to get to whatever your preferred grocery store is. We used to love going to Loblaws but now we’re in Metro hell every sunday. There’s also the city stink on really hot days. Mmmm, sewage filling your nostrils as you try to enjoy a nice stroll in the sunshine. Crazy crackheads eating a jar of Nutella with their fingers right beside you in a restaurant. That really happened by the way, saw it with my own eyes.

There’s also the matter of the subway. I take the subway to and from work everyday, and for the most part I quite enjoy it. It’s so much better than the fucking Go Train. I will take the subway over the fucking Go Train any day. Delays seem to be a routine thing for the subway, but the longest I’ve been held up so far is 15 minutes. You also have to get used to the sardine sensation when taking the subway during rush hour. You literally cram you way onto the train and have people touching or brushing up against you on all sides. It’s a sweaty, cramped, awkward mess. And people are ruthless! They don’t make any attempt to play nice when they think they might miss out on a spot on the train. I’ve had ladies mow me down with strollers, dudes basically use me for piggyback rides onto the train, and bitches stiletto stomp me on a rough turn then have the gall to act like it’s my fault they can’t balance themselves. I’ve also seen people do horrible things to each other in order to snag a recently freed up seat. It basically a jungle.

You really do see it all on the morning and evening commute. But this is my life now for the foreseeable future, so I’ve gotta make the best of it. I see people rocking their iPods, readers, magazines etc. to make the commute less boring. I have another strategy for making the commute fun…

I play my own little subway games. With a vivid imagination and a plethora of people surrounding me I’m all set. Let the people be my amusement and entertainment! I can’t control who gets on the same car as me or how they will comport themselves, but I can control my perception of them. Here are some of my favourite subway games to play:

Life Story

This one is easy enough, all I do is observe someone who captures my interest and then concoct an elaborate life story for them. The life story is rich with drama and emotion, uncontrollable circumstance and choices. I like to imagine what kind of childhood they had and how it has shaped who they are today. For instance, the dude in his late 20’s suited up all sharp and shit with designer duds. Privileged upbringing, nuclear family, beautiful arm-candy girlfriend right? Wrong. Instead, I see that dude suffering from uncontrollable pyromania! He set his little sister’s dollhouse on fire when he was 8, then when he was 15 burnt his math teacher’s house to the ground and had to do him some juvie or something. He’s gotten his life back on track, finished school and got a sweet gig downtown where nobody suspects the fire monster that lurks within. Just wait til he gets denied that big promotion he’s been working for, burn baby burn! See, I just made my way through 5 stops before I even knew it!

Which Animal?

Again, this game relies heavily on me observing someone with a particular look and deciding on what sort of animal they would be. There’s a woman cackling obnoxiously to her friend at 8:30am and despite what she may think, the rest of us don’t find her laugh to be particularly enchanting or bewitching. It’s just fucking annoying. That girl is definitely a hyena. There’s a chubby, sleepy 40-something taking up almost two whole seats, that guy is a hippo fo sho. A lanky, toothy, sly looking motherfucker with a backpack full of shrooms, he’s a ferret. I don’t really know if he’s got shrooms in his backpack, it’s just part of his image I guess.

What Station?

This one I’m not very experienced in yet, but I like to think that in a couple of years when I’ve ridden the rails from end to end countless times, I’ll have better judgement. But I like to size someone up and decide what stop they’re getting off at. It’s also hard because my commute isn’t from one end to another, it’s a good chunk of the Yonge line but not the whole thing. But there are certain neighbourhoods in Toronto that correspond with subway stations and I like to guess what station I think a person is going to, especially on the evening commute. That’s the most likely time that people are heading home, so it’s a little easier. For example, my neighbourhood Yonge and Eglinton is often called Young and Eligible by my co-workers because it’s heavily populated with yuppies. So it’s usually safe to assume that young, shiny, polished, designer clad men and women are headed that way. There’s also the Finchers. People who are commuting into the city everyday and connect to buses at Finch station. They can’t stand their surroundings. You just know that the subway is the worst part of their day, they hate crowds, and they change into comfortable shoes at the end of the day.

Okay, so I know this is sounding like I’m pretty much the most judgemental and awful person on the planet, but I don’t do this out of a mean-spirit. I simply try to pass the time on the train in the morning, and mentally escape the nasty armpit stink in my face. I think that I’m very unexpected. I’ve been sized up and judged my whole life, pigeonholed and stereotyped. And I honestly hope that all the people I play my subway games with are unexpected too and would prove me wrong given a 5 minute chat. Sometimes people surprise you, sometimes they turn out to be exactly what you expected… that’s the fun of subway games, what you see in others has a lot to do with what you yourself are bringing to the table.

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