Yesterday, I was scheduled to go down to the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) to tell a story and to be interviewed about it. I agreed to the 9:30 interview because I knew we could easily hop on the subway and get there in plenty of time. I insisted on leaving early, telling Joe who was worried we'd get there way to soon, that we could relax and have a cup of tea if we had extra time. So, out the door we went.
We stepped out of the elevator and on to the subway platform. A train was there and people, by the millions it seemed, were swarming on the train. I realised, then and there, that I'd never travelled the subway in rush hour. Not to worry, I thought, there'd be lots of trains running. A second came and, even though I was in front of the door, people swarmed around me, blocking me, knocking me, terrifying me. The rush to get on the train overwhelmed transformed me from person to obstacle and, in fear, I stopped, powered down my chair, and waited. When they were packed on I looked at them and they looked at me, as the door closed. They seemed all so happy that they were where I wanted to be.
As we waited for the next train, we wandered to find a space where there was a little more room. The train came and the same thing happened. This time I was hit a couple of times by elbows and several times by purses and backpacks. Suddenly I found myself beside a TTC fellow and we chatted briefly, I explained that I had an appointment and had left early but now I was fearful of being late. The next train came and he attempted to stem the flow of people, but again, I couldn't get on.
Another TTC guy came along and the two of them planned together how to get me on to the train. When it came, one stood on one side of the door and the other on the other. They held their arms out holding people back. When everyone who wanted off was off I moved to the door. They were now shouting at people to go to another door, but they were pressed right up against their arms, some were reaching towards the door. They looked like the Zombies from World War Zed. As if their desire to be on the train had drained them of all humanity, they were just open, aching need. It was terrifying.
Once on the train the TTC officers stepped back and on the came. Many of the angry at being held back, many of them glaring at me for getting 'special treatment'. I finally said, out loud, "For those of you who want to know I had waited for several trains and no one would give me space to get on, I have a right to use the trains too." There was a silent response to my statement. I didn't care, I wanted them to know that I had attempted several times to get on a train and only needed assistance because other people had behaved in the same way that they just had.
I did the interview dry, there wasn't time for tea.