It has been a while since I felt unsafe on the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission or public transit). The period of safe riding ended on Sunday September 15 at 3:45 p.m.
I got on a westbound subway at Christie. I was only going two stops to Dufferin. I got on in the middle of a subway car. I saw people quickly walking away from the east end of the car, past me to the west end of the car. What was causing them to leave? A wildman swearing and kicking and punching at the air—at least it looked like air to me. Who knows? There could have been people there only the wildman man could see.
The wildman started making his way from the east end of the car to the west end. The invisible people must have been moving that way. He punched, kicked and swore at the air as he moved. But some invisible people must have been sitting because he occasionally stopped moving to swear at and kick at empty subway seats.
The wildman was in his late thirties. He had long brown shoulder-length scraggly hair and a pock-marked unshaven face. He was dressed all in black. Black windbreaker, black shirt, black jeans and black shoes.
As he got closer to me, I pushed the Emergency Alarm—at least I thought it was the Emergency Alarm. What I pushed at first was the sign that pointed to the Emergency Alarm. It is the yellow strip ABOVE the Emergency Alarm sign that is the alarm. When I did not hear the faint high-pitched alarm, I realized that I had pushed the sign.
I pushed the yellow strip as the subway was approaching Dufferin and I moved towards the west end of the car. Fortunately, Wildman was too busy fighting his invisible people to have noticed my pushing the sign and the yellow strip.
The subway stopped at Dufferin. I got off, but then he got off at the door before my door. I could see the subway guard coming from her position in the last car. Wildman had his back to her. (The subway guards open and close the subway doors.) Wildman stared at me as he walked past me on the platform. I stared back.
“What are you staring at, motherfucker?”
This is where he was wrong. I was at an anniversary party on Friday. I kissed and hugged a lot of mothers because they were friends I had not seen for a long time. There was no horizontal recreation. If he had said, “What are you staring at, mother kisser?” or “What are you staring at, mother hugger?” then he would have been right.
I cannot remember the last time I had sex with a woman who was also a mother, but it did happen. So Wildman would have been right even if he had asked, “What are you staring at, former mother fucker?” But he did not ask these questions. He asked, “What are you staring at, mother fucker?”
“Nothing,” I said.
He lunged at me and threw a punch, but I stepped back. He missed and partially lost his balance. Obviously his fighting abilities were impaired by alcohol or a drug or both. Of course, he could have missed me because he was not used to swinging at people who were actually there.
“If I had a gun, I’d fuckin’ shoot ya!” he said when he regained his balance.
What? He did not have a gun? With all the recent gunplay in Toronto, I thought that I was the only one without a gun. But here was another guy in Toronto without a gun. So now there were two of us without guns. Things are not as bad as I thought.
Wildman turned and walked away. By this time the subway guard had reached me.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I said. “He’s the one I pushed the alarm for, but he’s off the train now.”
Wildman went up the escalator to the ground floor and disappeared. Perhaps he and his invisible people made up and decided to go for a coffee.
Wildman’s invisible people were not the only ones not seen. Where was Transit Enforcement? They were likely off somewhere getting more pictures taken. These pictures are for posters to hang on subway walls telling passengers that Transit Enforcement is serious about passenger safety, and is doing everything to keep the TTC safe.
We’re serious about your safety
“Transit Enforcement is committed to helping make the TTC a transit system that makes Toronto proud. We’re responsible for protecting the integrity of the transit system, ensuring the system remains safe and reliable and keeping customers safe as they travel across the network.”