Christmastime in the Emerald City

By now we should all know that I love animals. What sane individual would transform the itty bitty bedroom of an already itty bitty apartment into a wire-free, outlet-free, toxic-free safehaven for four bunnies? This girl. I don’t love all animals though. My cats were smelly assmonkeys. All my life I’ve loved cats, lived in houses full of them, but as soon as I rescue a pair of my own they turn out to be the whiniest, smelliest sonsofbitches you ever did see. I loved them enough to make sure they’d be taken care of elsewhere, but out the door they had to go, followed by rounds and rounds of detoxicating bleach and the disposal of about half my wardrobe.

Fucking cats.

I also dislike small dogs. Lapdogs, to be more precise. Because despite Paris Hilton and her dog-in-a-handbag trend, Chihuahua’s aren’t really the kind of dog you’d describe as a lapdog. They’re kind of…bony? Being a lapdog has less to do with breed or even stature, but more to do with whining, clinging, yippy spoiled behaviour more commonly seen in your elderly woman’s terrier. I call these ridiculously overloved little shits “Mother In Law Dogs.” You have to pretend to love them, don’t you? But when it comes right down to it, every little squeak out of their traps makes you kind of want to puke.

Their owners are worse. My grandmother, not the awesome one, used to share her ice cream with her damned dog. I wish I were joking. I don’t know what the hell happened – she used to be a perfectly sane women with a house full of about twenty something cats before they got that damn dog. My mother and her brother have long been convinced that their mother would have left the money, house, everything to that little brat except they’ve all outlived it.

My parents have fallen into this trap. Not my mother, who is well versed in the idea that if you’re eating knock off Mac’n’Cheese there’s no way in hell the fucking cat is getting name brand. My father and stepmother, a well established pair in a nicely appointed renovated house, decided about a year or so ago that they would purchase an $800 puppy from a local breeder they found at the mall. It’s a shi-tzu poodle mix. Literally, a shitpoo.

I’ve got issues with paying $800 for a dog while hundreds are dying in shelters, but whatever. Some people want purebreds I guess. Or almost purebreds. But this past weekend put things a little further beyond that.

This past weekend, the parentals were off for a drive to pick up my sister from her yearly bout of Pioneer Camp. They couldn’t bring the dog. Something about how if they stopped along the way, one of them would always have to stay with the dog while the others went inside, and this wouldn’t be very fun. Leaving a small dog in the car with the windows slightly down for twenty minutes on a very comfortably cool overcast day is an apparent cruelness. I call it “owning a dog”. Either way, they needed me to make the trek out to their place to let the dog out to pee sometime during the day and were willing to leave $25 on the table for my time.

Normally this would be super fab. A bit of almost-free money, spend an hour in front of the Nintendo-Wii, enjoy the home wi-fi, kick my feet up for a bit and let the little fuzzball out back for a bit. The dog is annoying, but one can’t generally be annoyed to death, no big deal. This weekend, however, it was a huge fucking deal. In all his godly wisdom, Murphy kicked me in the face with this shitty Law that’s been hanging around for a while, and I ended up with a ridiculously dysfunctional Sunday afternoon.  

It was suggested that I arrive at about 12:30 for the dog’s initial exodus to the backyard. This requires me to leave my house at about 11:40. Yeah, they’re nice and conveniently located on the subway line, except their particular stop is at the easternmost point, in ghetto-dreaded Scarborough. I live slightly west of right downtown, where everything you see below is in walking distance. And Toronto is a very wide city. It’s a long trip.


Toronto also stretches north, for about half an hour on the subway line until it ends at what we downtowners consider the end of the universe. This northernmost point is the general proximity of my work. (I don’t have a problem giving these stalkerlicious facts out, by the way, because ‘North Toronto’ is huge and you’d have to be a retard to try and find me.)

This is North Toronto, or as us downtowners call it, Fucking Ugly:

This northernmost point is also where I had removed both of my parents sets of keys from my rapidly growing set of work and home keys, and stuffed them in my desk drawer for oh-so-convenient safekeeping. Fantastic. So now I have to take a 45 minute trip to the middle of nowhere north to fetch my keys, and then reverse my ass back to central toronto only to transfer and take another 45 minute trip to the middle of nowhere east. Fanfuckingtastic. I love doubling my travel time to a destination I really don’t care about, how about you folks? *big enthusiastic smarmy thumbs up*

The subways are broken. Three stops short of the end of the line where I need to be. They’ve broken out the shuttle busses, so you know its bad. Well fuck it, I’m not waiting for a cramped and smelly shuttle bus. I used to live in Scarborough, I know the bus routes. Or so I apparently think, because whatever platform I went to I have no idea what bus that was. I know what bus it was supposed to be. It was supposed to traverse south Scarborough and graze the neighbourhoods by the bluffs before heading north and reconnecting with the subway at the end of the line. But that’s not what bus it was. It was the bus that navigates every individual side street down by the bluffs before going right back to the same motherfucking station, thereby adding ANOTHER FORTY FIVE MINUTES TO MY TRIP!!! Grar!

Why didn’t I get off? Because I’m in fucking Scarborough. There aren’t any cabs, the bus is the only way to get anywhere. We’re not even near the subway line where this bus is going, and this bus is the only way to get back to it. I could have gotten off and connected with the bus that was going where I was supposed to be. But given that it’s Sunday and the service in Scarborough is shitty, the wait time could have made the trip just as long. That and it’s pouring.

Mmmmm. Scarborough.

On top of this, I’m so blindsided by raging fury and the effort it takes to not lose my shit in these circumstances that I get my subway-expert ass turned around and get on the wrong fucking train. Sure. Why not?

It’s three o’clock by the time I actually stumble, half soaked into my dad’s house. The dog is waiting cross-legged at the door, and rushes outside to take a teeny, tiny, miniscule, solitary squirt. Back in the kitchen, I am greeted with three full voicemails on the machine with instructions on how to care for the dog and tips on unlocking the new patio door that I have no intention of even looking at. I also stumble upon the dogs grooming schedule, taped to the fridge door with appointments made until the end of the year. An hour of collecting my wits later and I’m rummaging through my old coat closet to find a jacket with a hood, sans-umbrella as I am. The coat doesn’t quite fit, and does very little for the part of me that gets wettest – my feet, in their summer slip ons, sloshing through the bacteria-ridden wasteland that is the backed-up mess at the foot of the stairs into this shitty, shitty subway station, incidentally known for stabbings.

For a few brief moments as it leaves Scarborough, the subway line ascends above ground. There is light and trees before diving back underground for the ninety minute trip to the next above ground station way out in the west end of what probably isn’t even considered Toronto by that point. Above ground, briefly, but long enough to see that as soon as I left Scarborough it had stopped raining.

Well fuck this, ladies and gentlemen. Downtown, the subway is the way to go. Fast, convenient, affordable, clean, even trendy. But no way in hell am I taking the subway to Scarborough ever again.

Besides, with a damn mother-in-law dog that tiny, I bet you wouldn’t even notice a piddle on the rug.

Stupid dog.


When’s the last time you got a raise? Just a general survey here, is anyone absolutely rolling in it? Is anybody else encouraged to simply stop doing their job because they don’t get paid enough? No? Well all y’all are apparently schmucks, because it seems all you need to do to get whatever your little heart desires is sign up for a pair of grey shorts as a member of one of several unions related to various job positions within the Toronto Transit Commission, hereafter known as “you jackass sons of whores.”

Let me back up and explain a little bit of what’s going on. The TTC employees, responsible for running our busses, streetcars and subways, as well as all the eletrical work and safety considerations etc. that go hand in hand with running any large-scale organization intended for public benefit, have gotten a little pissy lately. Like everyone on this great green earth, they want more money. They also want more benefits, and whatever else they’ve been yammering about. Currently, they only receive 70% of their income if they have to take time off due to a work related injury, including assault from shadier members of Toronto’s vast public. And yes, it might suck to have your income drop because of an incident beyond your control – but you’re still getting paid despite your absence in the economy, just like everyone else fortunate enough to work for an organization that provides these benefits in the first place. A hell of a lot of us are shit out of luck if we break our leg or sprain our ankle. And you may run the risk of having some punk ass kid take a swing at you because he doesn’t like your face or system, but my job isn’t without it’s risks. I’ve had some serious nutcases in my little reception area, and I’m pretty sure one of them declared Jihad on me. More than once I’ve had to have security escort someone out, but that’s just part of my much-slimmer-in-the-general-wallet-vicinity type job, now isnt’ it?

Now, I’m not saying how it currently goes is necessarily right. After all, it’s not my fault I fell down the stairs (maybe….) But I do think that’s one of those things where it’s just the way it is. And if you do want to change it, simply not doing your job isn’t really the way to go. Shit, if you don’t like a law, change the way you vote. You could maybe go against the law if you’re willing to spend some time rattling your donation cup against the bars and having your friends hand out pamphlets up about two blocks from me, but it’s not all glitz and glamour behind those iron rods of injustice. The simple fact is that the majority of us have no choice but to suck it up and do our jobs in order to pay our bills and put our kids through college. 

But no. The TTC can decide to strike. If I were to go on strike, you know what would happen? I’d be replaced within five minutes by the next doe-eyed multitasker ready to abandon all hope for the future of humanity in exchange for a meagre paycheque. Yes, that does give you a glimpse into my average day. If I wasn’t so good at ranting about it, I wouldn’t love my job so much. But I digress: the point is, I can’t go on strike. It wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t work for just about anybody. The TTC on the other hand, has the city by the short n’ curlies and so can just up and walk away and get handed whatever the fuck they want. Why? Because we as a city had the super smarts to think “Hey, cars aren’t really the best option around here. Gridlock and terrible smog, and the rising cost of fuel and parking and such. Lets build a city-wide infrastructure to support the commute of MILLIONS of people every day at a fraction of the cost of driving.” Good idea! So many benefits with just a few downsides, one of them being the apparent superiority complex given to every beer gutted bastard sitting behind the wheel of a bus.

Some people don’t get to strike. Some jobs are considered an essential service. The nurses went on strike once, back about the time I smashed my clumsy toddler head into the wooden arm of a couch and needed stitches – put in by my DAD, thanks a lot. Traumatizing much? (For him, not me.) And since then, they’ve been made an essential service. This means they can’t strike, but they do get paid a lot (Yes, I know our health care system is ridiculously underfunded, that is a systematic flaw. I know how much nurses make, and I’ll dip my hands in guts for that kind of dough any day.) And there has been a lot of talk about making the TTC an essential service. I know it seems kind of odd to look at the roster there: firefighters, nurses, doctors, policemen, and the TTC unions. Four out of five save your lives on a daily basis. The other one gets you to work. Yeah, sweet, that job I’m sure you love so much. However, as a city, we do need the TTC to function. So there are a lot of pros and cons to making them an essential service, because while it would prevent strikes, it would also give them the right to a lot of stuff – not for stitching wounds and dragging babies out of burning buildings, but for driving a bus all day. And while it is essential, something about that just doesn’t sit right with me. And something apparently doesn’t sit right with those who actually make the decisions, because our government has been hemming and hawwing in their quintessential Canadian sort of way.

Anyways, carrying on. They nearly went on strike about a week ago, and there was a whole shitload of “Will they? Won’t they? What the hell are we going to do?” going on. And so the TTC agreed to at least give the city 48 hours notice before going on strike so that the majority of us who rely so heavily on them could make alternate arrangements. Last weekend, they decided not to strike. They accepted the deal on the table for the time being and kept on truckin’ (or bussin’, rather) throughout the week until it could be officially voted on. Friday at midnight: not a fucking bus in sight! Stranded! Not me, personally, once I’m home I don’t really go anywhere I can’t walk to, because, um, I live downtown and that’s the benefit of paying ridiculously high rent. But yeah, right out of nowhere! Never mind two days notice, we got about two hours notice.

This, tactically, was a shitty move. Firstly, who the hell are you trying to paralyze in a city of commuters on the weekend? I’m not denying that some people were very definitely fucked, but overall, not very effective. Secondly, that gives the city 48 hours to retaliate to your ongoing bullshit. So what did our government do? Well, they didn’t declare them an essential service. That’s a very permanent move to make on such short notice. Instead, all three parties of our provincial legislation got together and put a nifty little bill on the table that was passed within half an hour. It said essentially this:

Dear TTC,

You have officially pissed us off. Yes, you may have the city by the short hairs, but you’re forgetting who can smack down the law ’round these here parts. You didn’t hold up your end of the 48 hour deal. So you want to play hardball? Here’s hardball: either get your asses back to work on Monday and settle your shit, or pay $2000 per employee (of which there are a LOT) and $25,000 per union for every single day this idiocy carries on. You also have five days to find someone to help you settle your shit, or we’ll pick one for you. You also owe the city of Toronto an apology.

Dear Toronto,

Please don’t beat up transit workers on Monday, that’ll only give them more fuel for their whining, blubbering fire.

So there! Take that you assholes! Try to hold my life hostage, will you? Just because we need you to function on a daily basis doesn’t change that fact that you DRIVE A BUS!!!!!! I still love my TTC as a system, because I love that we have taken on such a green, sustainable, economically friendly infrastructure and made it something that is really essential. But goddamn if I don’t hate the day-to-day assholes who yessssss keep it running (*clenches fists*), but who whine ceaselessly about it.

My solution? Get a couple of blogs, jerkfaces! Venting does the body good.


et cetera