Why you should follow your heart (instincts)

20100626 GTS Go Train      mississauga transit

No this is no tale of a life wasted or a once in a lifetime opportunity lost. It’s a simple story of my commute this morning. If you live in Mississauga and travel to Toronto on a daily basis for work, or use GO transit at all, then you will get where I’m coming from. For those who drive to work, this is what you are missing out on (not much).

I had promised my best friend yesterday that I would not run after buses or trains or anything at all frankly since I dislocated my knee last November and have yet to recover. Spoiler alert : I didn’t run this morning. I didn’t have to.

My commute usually consists of 2 buses, a train and a subway. I got on the first bus of the day just fine. I left at 7.20 and was able to “walk” over to the bus station (I know he is reading this). My second bus was late. By a few minutes. No harm done. I promised myself I wouldn’t run to grab the train which I usually need to do if the second bus is late. I got a seat on the bus too so life was good.

We were a tiny bit late getting  to the train station where the bus stops and I  get off. And this is where we learn or first lesson folks. When you have the feeling that something is off listen to your heart for guidance (There were also an unusually large number of people trying to get on the bus at this station. Not large enough to signal a complete shut down of the system. but it should have thrown me off). I didn’t listen to my heart which was screaming for me to stay on. Specially after I saw the lady that travels on my route everyday stay on the bus. And I got off.

The trains had been stopped due to a fire investigation. There were still hoards of people on the platform waiting for it. The decision was between waiting it out or grabbing a bus to the next train station. My brilliant strategy was to stand at a midpoint and pick whatever came first. I also told myself that I would only choose the bus if it was running the express route. I had let a lot of the regular buses pass by when I decided it was time to help people that were getting off these buses, some even running up the stairs to the platform to catch the imaginary GO train, leaving without them. These folks were imagining the doors close on this imaginary train, a scene my brain had played for my far too often.

There was one woman approaching the staircase that led to the platform, looking just as confused as I had been when I first arrived. I figured she would be the first person I help. So I told her about the train, how there was a fire investigation being conducted and how people (ie. one random lady who had caught me up with the whole situation) were saying it may take anywhere for 30 mins to a few hours.

A friend of hers decided to join the conversation (if you can call it joining). It was the little woman I see on the bus every day. She is super short but super fierce looking. She came through the crowd and interrupted our conversation. She then proceeded to fill her friend in on the details ignoring my presence. She was dragging the woman I was helping towards the bus stop. The authority with which she led her friend away from the platform made me believe she knew what she was doing. So i followed. Against my better instincts. Even though I had promised I wouldn’t get on a regular bus, I did. Because I forgot to listen to my heart and chose to follow the short (now also labeled rude in my brain) woman.

It took a while (30 minutes) but I got to the next train station, however, by this time I had missed the 8.05 train and the next one would arrive at 8.29. Work starts at 9. This wasn’t ideal but I had no choice. So I waited.

Out in the cold for a while, then in a shelter. 8.29 drew nearer. At 8.25 I saw a train’s headlights approaching. So I got out of the shelter I had been waiting in and stood on the platform, ready to be the first few to jump onto the train and start the scavenger hunt for a seat. Turned out to be a bad move since it was a Via Rail train (national, not local train) with no intentions of making a stop to pick me up and take me to Toronto. But boy did that train run. Super fast. I wonder if the train even touched the ground. Was this giant thing floating? With all the people and their luggage on board? Watching the train travel by at that speed was worth getting covered in dust. Which is exactly what the train left flying in its wake.

While waiting for the GO train to show up I decided to check up on the delay that had led to this tiresome morning. Turns out the delay hadn’t lasted very long. They probably fixed it 5- 10 minutes after I got on the “not express” bus. If I had stuck to what my heart had said about avoiding regular buses, I would have waited longer, seen the train arrive and avoided this whole mess. Knowing this made me more frustrated than I already was. And where was this goddamn train that I had travelled on a “non express” bus for half an hour to catch?!

The GO train arrived late. Around 8.35. I got on the train and found no place to sit. So I decided to latch onto the poles that seem to hold some of the seats up (is that how that works?). A guy sitting a few seats away from where I was gave me a lingering look, like he knew me. So this is pretty normal for me. It happens. I apparently look like someone everyone knows. I had headphones on so I couldn’t hear anything but Ed Sheeran’s voice.  The guy said something to his friend who then turned to look at me too. That was agitating and weird. No I don’t know you. Take your questioning looks elsewhere.

We got to Union Station around 9 AM. I was late for work at this point anyway but I was determined to get there no more than 15 minutes late. Before I continue I think I should tell you how the GO train system works.

If you tap on (tap your card at a terminal in order to pay for your ride) you must tap off. However if you travel a route often enough you can get it set up so that you don’t have to tap off. Since I take the same route everyday, I have it set up so that I don’t have to fight people to use a terminal to tap off. I forgot that I had to tap off today since I had used a different route.

I tapped to pay for the subway fair and realized I hadn’t tapped off to settle the train fair yet. Not knowing what the protocol dictates in this instance, I asked the TTC staff sitting at the station for their take on the situation. There were a group of three men, two chatting while the third participated in the conversation in spurts. I approached him and asked him for his advice. All three men said in unison “go tap off”. Why the other two men had to join in I am not sure, but they were all convinced that it was the right thing to do. I told them how I had tapped on for the subway already. Didn’t that tell the system that I was off the train. I couldn’t possible tap onto the subway if I was still on a train. “No no, go tap off” they repeated. They were so sure in fact that they paused their conversation to help me. So I did as they suggested. My gut told me that something was off. But as was tradition this morning, I chose not to listen.

I later checked my transaction history and realized that listening to them had cost me $5 because tapping “off” had been recorded as tapping “on”.

So, if I had listened to my heart / followed my instincts this morning, I would have been at work on time and avoided this whole giant mess of poo poo that was my morning. Goes to show, it’s not your mom, but your heart that really knows best. So be a good boy/girl and listen to it. And drink your milk. Thats just common sense. (unless you are lactose intolerant, then dont)

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