Thursday, January 18
Working in Toronto likely means you will commute to work in some shape or form and being an environmentally minded person I’m trying to do my part to save the planet. That’s how I like to frame up taking public transit despite the fact that it would simply be ridiculous to live downtown Toronto and have a car. And by ridiculous, I mean ridiculously expensive. And so I am now a proud public transit pass holder and I grace two different regional transit systems on a day to day basis. My project right now has me using the always pleasant TTC and the impressive YTS VIVA. All in all it takes no less than an hour to get to work and again back home.
This is a pretty long commute that initially I was pretty disappointed about and I’ll admit that there are days I just want to work at the Starbucks a block from my house. I’ve discovered though that the key to commuting is doing something. True there are mornings when doing anything but nod off looking out the window is a task but when the commute feels productive I don’t resent it. I’m typing this on the bus while listening to a new cd.
This morning I typed out some personal emails on the way while other mornings I read. The key is to not get home and feel like the commute was a waste of time. If you’re driving, well, it pretty much is a waste of time plus there’s green house gas guilt. But public transit, while taking a little longer (not much in rush hour though) lets me at least lets me feel like two hours weren’t robbed from my life everyday. Not a nice feeling. I’m a fan of top 5 lists ever since High Fidelity and I’m working on incorporating them into life in general. So here are the top 5 things to do on public transit that keep me from going postal.
1. Get some sweet noise reduction headphones (Thanks Brother) and become a music connoisseur. Lately I’ve been looking for music that is a perfect sound track for the ride. This has led me into some new musical territory including a ridiculously good album by a harp player, Joanna Newsome. See my last post on I’m From Barcelona for a recollection of how the perfect soundtrack leads to a bus full of singing, happy passengers even if it is only in your head.
And now I’m on the train. Admittedly a sweeter ride than the bus.
2. Get your personal or work email before you leave home or the office. Now you can actually respond to email instead of ignoring people and getting on their email black lists.
3. Sit and Be Fit: I’m working on an exercise routine for the commute so I’ll keep you posted. It will involve spandex and sweatbands because that’s a hot look on public transit will ensure you make new friends.
4. Read magazines you might otherwise just skim through or maybe not even touch. I actually have read magazines like The Economist (shut up, economics are cool), Walrus, Runners World... I’m amazed at what I’ve been missing in the world. There was a particularly heart breaking / warming article on Terry Fox in the last Runners World that had me teary on the subway.
Well actually that’s all I’ve found to entertain myself so far so please give me more ideas before this commuting thing drives me insane and I end up one of those people who give up and just sleep on public transit.
My top 5 things to do on Public Transportation
1. Knitting: the large needles keep people from sitting on either sides of you. Look really focused and no one dares to disturb you.
2. Journal writing: again, the intimacy of the act keeps people from looking in your direction. If they seem too nosy, writing "there's a weirdo reading my journal over my shoulder right now..." usually puts an end to that.
3. Reading a book: but not something outrageously funny like Tim Moore's "French Revolutions" or else you'll draw attention to yourself as you laugh until you cry. I've had to actually cover my face with that book to calm my laughing hiccups several times on the train.
4. Reading the adverts on the train: "Oh phoop. I forgot to bring anything with me to distract me from this long, boring ride. Oh well, I've always wanted to learn more about insurance plans anyways.
5. Worry about being late. Okay, definitely not my favourite thing to do, but based on frequency, it certainly belongs on this list.
(I asked my sister-in-law what her Top Five were and the first one she mentioned was talking with the person beside her on the bus. Hm...perhaps I'm a bit anti-social. Or perhaps I've just spent too long on the London tube.)
Plus ipods have made train cars full of people wrapped in their individual music. Not that I'm complaining but that's the way it is.
You'll conjure up Freddie, the guy who always looks like he's running from something; Shanice, the woman that sings like no one is watching; and Boris, the child of two Russian immigrants who escaped Stalinist Russia.
I think there might be money in this.