Every week at my Toastmaster’s meeting we take some time to share our success stories for the week. I really enjoy these because it not only helps us to practice speaking in front of people, it reminds me to be grateful for the small successes we have throughout the week. The following is a story I should have told at our last meeting, but didn’t. I’m sharing it with you.
I also wanted to opportunity to write a light piece this week. I’m finding out that it’s not good to take life so seriously all the time. It’s also good to laugh our personal foibles.
Whenever I visit my daughter in Toronto, it’s usually a simple matter of taking the train from Chatham and staying on it until I reach Toronto. After travelling the same route for the past three years, I have finally figured out that once in Toronto, I just have to follow the signs to the subway station, and I will find Mallory waiting for me in our usual spot. It wasn’t always that easy. Especially while Union Station is in the process of making extensive renovations. Every time I visit, things have changed. It doesn’t help that I have a very poor sense of direction. But so far I’ve managed. Once I connect with Mallory, all I have to do is follow her as she guides me through the twists and turns of the subway station onto two different subway trains, followed by a tram ride, before we make it to Roncevalles, where my daughter lives.
Getting back to Chatham from my daughter’s place however, is another matter. There is no way I’m going to take the subway. I have a difficult enough time finding my way around the city when I’m above ground. It’s a well-known fact that women need markers as a way to find them way around, so being underground, where everything looks the same, and there are no buildings to use as sign posts, I’m completely lost. East, West, North, South, mean nothing to me. I’m more into left and right. Maybe I should carry a compass with me. Then I’d just have to find out what part of the city my daughter lives in – North I think. When anyone asks I just say, “She lives by High Park.” But when I found out that High Park is 400 acres that could place her anywhere.
THE MOUSE MAZE:
Anyway, I always take a cab to Union Station from her place. It only takes 20 minutes if I can convince the driver to take the Gardner Expressway. Note: When I told Mallory I was going to ask the driver to take the Expressway, I said E.C. Expressway, as in the Windsor E.C. Row Expressway. That could have been an expensive proposition as it is a 4 hour drive from Toronto to Windsor, and that’s after you get out of the city. See what I mean about my poor sense of direction?
We always book a cab ahead of time to ensure that I do indeed get one. Of course, that doesn’t always work. I have been left waiting 1/2 hour for a cab, only to realize he probably forgot about me. Meanwhile the clock is ticking, and I’m getting anxious. I once had to hail a passing cab who was dropping someone off down the road. I made sure to tell the cabbie I was running late, and he got me to Union Station just before the train was about to board. Phew!
But usually, the cab driver arrives on time. Then I have to worry about whether or not he’ll get me to my destination safely. Here I am, a lone woman, travelling in the back of a cab with a stranger, in a city where I don’t know my way around. I’m a woman. I worry about these things. It doesn’t help watching crime dramas where people will kill each other over things like stealing someone else’s man or fighting over daddy’s will. I am however, getting more comfortable with the cab drivers. I figure if I chat with them, they’ll know I’m a nice person – I don’t want to get them mad at me.
THIS WAY OR THAT WAY:
Finally, I arrive at the station. Where to get dropped off. I prefer the main entrance on Front Street. Once I’m inside the door and can find the train schedules that list my gate number, I know I’ll be OK. But the side entrance has a Starbucks where I can buy a Chai Latte. It’s always nice to relax with a latte when there’s time. The only problem with this is getting from the side entrance to the train platform. You have to walk through the food court, get rerouted to the concourse, which is only temporary, and hope for the best. Don’t want to look like I don’t know what I’m doing, but sometimes I have to ask a guard for help. I do try to follow the signs, but that doesn’t always work. I once ended up at and isolated railway platform and had no idea how to get out. At least, not at first. I was pleasantly surprised when I ended up at the right platform for my train. Just lucky I guess.
This past weekend was a little better. I got to the Station in record time, got dropped off at Front Street and walked into the station. It took a minute to get my bearings, but I did find the train schedule that lists the gate numbers. Thank God this never gets moved. I’d be in deep trouble if it did. I got my gate number and followed the signs, which I must say were well marked, or so it seemed. The cordoned area for Gate 12 had an opening in it, which I thought was a way to guide me in the right direction. After all, there were people already in line, and it’s the same place I have waited for my train in the past, so it must be the right place. Just when I’m congratulating myself on my smooth delivery to the right location, I asked the person behind me if they were going to Windsor. “Uh, no. This line goes to Montreal.” What the heck? Don’t panic. Now I have to walk around and try to figure out where my gate is. It didn’t help that because I arrived early there was initially no-one lined up at Gate 12. Fortunately there were now a few people at what I thought was the right gate, so I asked a young woman if this way the gate that would take me to Windsor. Sure enough, we were going in the same direction. While I waited to board the train, I made conversation with the young lady in question to pass the time until we were called to board.
Now, I have to make sure I get on the right car. Since there were at least 10 cars on this train, it’s not a simply matter. It would help if they labelled the car numbers clearly on the side of the train so I wouldn’t have to ask every single conductor, “Car 3?” But what choice do I have? I worked my way down the line and eventually found my car and got comfortable in my widow seat. After a ½ hour delay in leaving, they finally came around with food and drinks. By now, I’m so relieved to have finally be on the right train home, when they came around with the refreshment cart, I said to the girl. “I’ll have a wine, and leave the bottle.”