One Sorry Day

“Ouch!” then “oh, sorry,” I say as something lands heavy on my thigh, then suddenly airborne a centimetre or two before plopping back down on my seat again. Turning my head toward the event unfolding, a woman, swallowed in grocery bags, has planted herself beside me. I reach below to soothe my aching thigh and notice the bag that hit me. Inside were two large cans of Libby’s beans and still partly occupying my space in a feat of imperialistic arrogance. I give the bag a rebellious shove off my lap, toward its empress. I hold my gaze on her, a look that insists she apologize for the damage she just caused. No such luck! She does not even acknowledge my existence, never mind, apologize! I begin to stew as the throbbing pain intensifies from the epicentre of the attack. That’ll leave a Rorschach of a bruise, I tell myself. I am angry. “Why did I apologize? She’s the one who slammed into me!”.

Now humiliation is added to my anger. I feel small, powerless. These emotions are what wars are made from. “Do I have a sign on my forehead that says ignore me?… I’m sick of letting others get away with their bullshit,” I catch myself muttering aloud. I then run a montage of revenge scenarios through my mind like some B-rated movie. “I’ll say this to her… I’ll do that…” – I was nobody’s lackey, and I wanted to teach her a lesson! Then it came to me. When my stop arrives, I will squeeze by her and accidentally-on-purpose, let my gym bag annoyingly slide across her lap and just keep on walking. See how she likes it! In complete chemical response to the plan, my body relaxes. Shoulders drop, jaw unclenches, breath deepens.

I still have quite a few stops to go, so I pull out my book, “Story of my Life,” by Jay McKinnery. Not long after, the train, at full speed, rounds the corner toward the next station. Its screeching breaks cause passengers to cup their ears in protection, and I sense my gym bag slipping from my lap. I fold into my bag, hugging it close to my core and manage to stop it from falling while holding on to my book. I don’t come up. Instead, I stay low, not unlike a panther protecting its’ fresh kill and then rest my head on my bag. I experience an odd feeling of safety and comfort in this position. The train stops. “Chester, Chester Station!” the TTC man calls out to no one in particular. Unexpectedly, the woman jumps up from the seat, startling me for the second time. My torso flings into a sitting pose, and I watch her run off the train; the doors narrowly miss the streaming bags behind her. My mission is now aborted, and I am secretly relieved.

A few stops later, two bone-thin guys in their early twenties but whose bodies seem stuck in adolescence step onto the train. Long gangly arms, appearing too long for their torsos, hang down from their sides, flipping and flopping along to a beat of their own. They remind me of a pair of string puppets, their heads taking the lead, bobbing rhythmically in stride. I’ve always liked string puppets.

Both young men bore sunglasses. One had his atop his head functioning as a make-shift hairband preventing his long locks from falling into his heavily lidded eyes. Still wearing his shades, the other young man sported a ball cap with the words: “Toronto Blue Jays.” I think to myself: “who in the right mind would name a professional baseball team after a cute little bird.”

Both young men bore sunglasses. One had his atop his head functioning as a make-shift hairband preventing his long locks from falling into his heavily lidded eyes. Still wearing his shades, the other young man sported a ball cap with the words: “Toronto Blue Jays.” I think to myself: “who in the right mind would name a professional baseball team after a cute little bird.”

The blue jay is a beautiful bird indeed, and it is indigenous to Canada. After every rainfall, you can find them showered about the city, beaks deep in mud and grass, banqueting on earthworms. But, and this is a big but, in no way, is this sweet little blue jay intimidating in the least.

Blue Jay

I must say, most, if not all of us, who call “the six” home, would ever choose the blue jay as our home team’s name (head swivel to the right and then to the left for emphasis)! I am positive there are diehard Toronto baseball fanatics who’d disagree with me and go to the ends of the earth to save face for their team!

One time at a party, while sharing my dislike of the team’s name, a guest, obviously a diehard Jay’s fan, overheard me and interrupted. Indignant, he began lecturing us on blue jays being aggressive birds and provided a litany of examples, yadda, yadda, yadda. He was spewing off blue jay facts as if he were some kind of ornithologist. Did this persuade me – what do you think? Who was he kidding? Himself, I guess. Why not the Falcon, Eagle, Hawk or even an Owl – but Blue Jay????

Anyway, I digress (my ADD can sneak up on me sometimes). Now, where was I? Oh yes, the two young guys on the train.  – My seat, no longer partially hijacked, I release an audible exhale. But before I could say, “Bob’s your uncle,” one of the Blue Jay cap guys gingerly sits down beside me and is wreaking of weed. I do a face-plant atop my gym bag, shut my eyes and start to doze.

I wake to the shrill of the conductor’s whistle and realize I missed my station. How could I have fallen asleep so quickly? I go to get up, but Blue Jay hat guy’s giraffe-legs are making a crossing gate of themselves. I wonder how even managed to jam them into this small space? He doesn’t notice me trying to exit. Perhaps I need a password for safe passage? Open sesame? – “Excuse me” (no answer)… excuse me (a little louder, still no response). “Sorry” (deep breath), and I manage to loudly exhale an: “EXCUSE ME!” Startling even myself, the young man quickly jumps up to make space for me to pass.

“Sorry,” I say, “this is my stop.”

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