Transit Trash


One of the things I miss most about the United States of America is my car, a 1989 blue Toyota Camry. In my family, this is known as the blue camry to distinguish it from the white camry (1988, though now OOC) and the new camry (1998, which in to be parallel should be called the “champagne camry” but that’s just terrible). Living here without my own personal horseless carriage hasn’t been too problematic. I lucked out and landed a basement apartment right near a train stop. The train takes me to school, church and to the Superstore, so my needs are met. It is annoying, though, that I can’t just get and go wherever I want. I have to plan things, figure out bus schedules, rush to catch transfers and generally do way more logistical planning than I have ever found possible.

Not having a car does have its advantages, though. Say you want to get out of a socially awkward appointment: “I’d love to, but I don’t have a car.” Say the missionaries need someone to go on splits: “I’d love to, but I don’t have a car.” Or say the committee you’re on needs someone to run silly errands: “I’d love to, but I don’t have a car.” Never mind the fact that I’d actually not love to. Also, not having a car has definitely curtailed my spending, which is probably why I can manage to cover my rent and all other expenses with my ten-hour-a-week job.

Another advantage of not having a car is funny stories from riding the train. The following are the highlights of my experience riding the friendly rails of Edmonton Transit.

Yeah, but only if you’re gonna defraud them

On the train, coming home from work one evening, I overheard two men, clearly construction workers, catching up on their recent lives.

CW #1: So I got that job at the Provincial Archives.

CW# 2: Oh yeah? I saw that posting, but then noticed there was a background check. How’d you pass that?

CW #1: I know, it was serious stuff. But, they only cared if it was fraud or something. Violent stuff didn’t matter.

So, if there’s a possibility you might be using the Archives for nefarious purposes, they won’t hire you. If you’re just going to beat your coworker with a shovel, welcome aboard!


Thursday at ten o’clock in the morning. Surely it takes some skill to be drunk so early in the morning doesn’t it? And it’s always two men, usually with the effects of either some serious falls or a bar fight or two. Always dressed shabbily. I often think of them as the “anti-missionaries.” They go about in pairs and start uncomfortable conversations with strangers on public transit just like regular missionaries. However, their appearance and attitudes are nearly the exact opposite of 19-21 year-old Mormon boys freshly . Mostly, I just try to avoid both when I see them.

Polyglot Edmonton

One evening on the train, I was struck by the fact that there were no fewer than five conversations going on around me, none of which were in English. There were a couple of young women speaking French, a Latino couple going on and on in Spanish, an animated discussion in what sounded like Arabic across the aisle, two middle-age African women speaking something I couldn’t understand and a group of Chinese students prattling along. I’d be a fan of this diversity if all the groups didn’t think that, since nobody understands them, they could all yell their conversations.

Dog Bites dog, women fight

Two middle-aged women get on and sit down on the same bench as me, a clear flaunting of the unwritten rule to spread yourself as far apart as possible (there were several empty benches right near where I was). They then commence to have an argument. Apparently one woman’s dog bit the other’s. They started out being very restrained, but it got animated. One started going on about how it’s always the other’s needs that are being met. I tried to ascertain the relationship between these two women: sisters? coworkers? neighbours? lovers? The dialogue and arguments had the ring of lovers but then one of them mentioned her husband and the other mentioned her kids. They just went on and on, continually breaking my understanding until they finally fell into a silence about as easy as a Sunday NY Times Crossword. Fortunately for me, they erupted once again, this time gesticulating wildly just as my stop pulled up and I had to slither between them to get off.


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