Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tales from Transit, Episode #21

Ya wanted summer, Montreal? Here it is all up in yo' face with a side of tabasco sauce. The humidex hit 38 today. I think the month of May should have an "in like a lion, out like a lamb" analogy. Maybe something like, "in like a pair of damp skinny-leg jeans, out like a parka-wearing fat guy in the sauna".

Okay, so I talked about this on the air today, but I realize the possibility exists that you all might have lives outside of my 3 hour self-aggrandizing progrm (yes, I meant to spell it like that...sounds more like how an old lady would say I'll rehash it here. And that is...

I love old people! I love them and I want one! There is an old man who rides the ol' 63 (I am a metro vet now, see?). He is at the age where self-consciousness is not even on the radar. He does what he wants, says what he wants and makes all the noises he wants. Now, MOST of the time, I'm sure he doesn't realize how loud he's being because he's also hard of hearing. He sits there, chatting to himself, clearing his throat every 10 seconds and loudly grunting and sighing with every shift and creak of his body. And regardless of how hot it is outside - he wants the windows closed. He will even ask the other patrons across the aisle to close THEIR windows, too. And they do! Because he wields the power of "old guy".

So, yesterday I'm on the bus (in the aisle across from him having completed the obligatory closing of the window). But this time, he's sitting beside an old lady. She is so little that her orthopedes don't even touch the ground when she sits. They are sitting so close that their bodies are physically touching, and they are still having trouble hearing each other. The collective bus people and I, however - are privvy to every syllable.

He says, "Yesterday in my apartment (loud throat clearing) I found an ant. An ant (dramatic pause) WITH WINGS!"

"You saw a what...?"


At this point I am wondering 2 things:
1) has HE ever seen an ant with wings before? Cuz he sure as hell sounds surprised by the discovery. And if so....
2) How can a guy that old have gone through life never having seen one?

I honestly don't think she heard ANY of it. But I did and as I listened (you can't even call it eavesdropping because his voice was ricocheting off the walls of our tin can bus) - I learned a few things about the ol' chap, like, he has a little nephew who asked him to visit. The 'little' nephew it turns out is a 67 year old retired cardiologist. And the story that impressed ME time he took the bus, and it didn't even stop once for a red light. I'm guessing that was in 1910, when there were no lights, but STILL...impressive.

So, yeah. I love old people. I also noticed he was carrying a white plastic bag, with what looked to be a can of Pledge inside. Takin' the bus to buy some Pledge and chat up the ladies. And grunt. Just another day in the life of the ol' guy on 63.


Anonymous said...

Nat, you are so funny. You make me laugh out loud at my desk every week. Today especially. :)

Kel (Goodlad)

Ma Horton said...

We have a lot to learn from old men with Pledge . I have met and are still good friends with many people of the swing era ( including my own father who is 81 going on 40 ) .One fella comes to mind after N@'s story was my good friend Errol who I used to meet and chat with in the park after walking my dear dog . After the 'how are yous' and stories he loved to tell me of days gone by, he always ended our conversations with a wave and this line that I gave him heck for every time ..* well ,if you dont see me next time , check the obits ..*Errol is 97 and hasn't seen those obits yet .Hug a senior today .

Sherri said... live in Toronto, and my transit experiences are not quite as happy as Nat's -- yesterday, I witnessed an assault on a driver, who fought back, and both he and the passenger ended up with bloody heads. What was more disturbing to me were the 20 passengers who just buggered off afterwards, rather than talking to the police. I wish I took the kind of bus with nice old men on it.

This is not a good week to be a TTC rider!

Zoey Castelino said...

I agree with Sheri. Things are getting out of hand with the TTC, the Union and most of all the rider who for some reason feel that it's okay to spit or beat up bus drivers just because they don't want to pay the fare.

If some thug doesn't want to pay $2.75, that's fine. Get a job, get a car and leave hard working people alone.

Sure the strike made everybody upset, but fighting someone is not the way to solve that problem.

JB said...

I haven't ridden on Public Transit since I lived in Nova Scotia. Halifax (Metro) Transit seems more like Montreal's than Toronto's, as there were always interesting - not violent - people on the bus.
I remember one guy who used to sit beside me when I got on. Older guy, but not a senior - maybe close to 60. He was from "The Nova Scotia Hospital", aka "The N.S." - a hospital for people who weren't *quite* in control of all their faculties, but weren't criminal in nature. (Sloan has a song about "The N.S." on a fairly recent album.)
He was harmless - but used to say the most astounding things. I remember he once said, "I just bought all the world's oil today!"
"Really?" I incredulously replied.
"Yep. Soon as I did, wouldn't ya know it, Richard Nixon called, wanted to buy it from me, but I told him he didn't have enough money, and it wasn't for sale anyway. He didn't like that."
Silence for a moment, and then he repeated - "...all the oil in the world."

I smiled.

He sat with me a lot after that. Anytime he saw me on the bus when he got on, he'd come to my seat. Sometimes he'd sit in front of me and turn around and say hi, and sometimes he'd stand beside me until I moved over and let him sit with me. I've never forgotten that first conversation, and I think the guy took a liking to me because I didn't dismiss him as some wingnut, but instead chose to receognize him as just a guy with a cryptic way of expressing his world view.
People are fascinating, and when it comes right down to it, other people are all we have.

I believe we'd all be better off if a group of senior citizens were chosen to advise governments on how to move forward in this world. They've been there, and seen more than we have, and need to be held in higher esteem and given more value in our society.

In other words - I love old people, too.

Twiggy said...

" Si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait"

One of my favourite sayings, and I think quite à propos for today's comments!