Henry, sheltering from the rain

Until now, I had not been to downtown Toronto in six months. First it was because of the pandemic perils, then the ice went out and I decamped to the cottage to hunker down for several months of swimming, sunning, and sloth. In May, when their office opened again, my dentist, who I’m sure thinks only of the well-being of my mouth and not the well-being of her bank account, called to say they could fit me in the following week. I said I was in no particular hurry and was not planning on going anywhere other than in the lake until at least mid-August. Hence, I was scheduled for August 13.

My GO bus ride was uneventful, as it usually is, with the driver as my private chauffeur and any seat to choose from. I got on the subway at Yorkdale, a station that is a nightmare at the best of times, under construction since at least the last ice age, with a convoluted entrance that seems to require going both upstairs and downstairs to reach the train platform. Ridership is sparse, at least this far north on the line.

It appears that, at some point, there were signs on every second seat, attached with pieces of duct tape. “COVID 19 Restrictions,” they say at the top in red. There’s a pictogram of a person sitting down, with a red circle and a line through it. “For your safety, this seat is restricted to support social distancing.” Currently, they are mostly as useful as those “Wet Paint” signs you see lying on the sidewalk, leaving no clue as to where wet paint should be avoided. The thing that seems to be working best, as far as leaving empty seats goes, is the empty Domino’s pizza box hogging an entire row, rancid pizza leftovers being scarier than viruses.

Mask wearing is mandatory on the TTC, which means mask wearing spans the expected continuum. There are the hyper-compliant, who also wield their hand sanitizer in front of them at arms-length, spritzing the air as they enter the subway car. Then there are the members of the nose-liberation front, who believe nasal passages have a right – no, a duty – to be free. Trigger warning: one such nose-ite was also availing herself of the opportunity to check out the health of her nasal cavity with her index finger. There are also the swaggering dudes and dudettes, who wear a mask when they pass through the turnstile and remove it once they get on the train, using the one-ear dangle technique, probably in case the transit police happen by.

Of course, there are blatant scofflaws, like the mask-free guy walking down the length of the train, singing at the top of his lungs, who probably does this all day: back to front and front to back. And the mask-avoiding mother with her preteen son, yelling at him moistly to smarten up, complete with copious f-bombs. If you are unable to wear a mask for some reason other than assholism, one would think you would make more of an effort to deflect attention from yourself. Oh. I think I just explained it.

There are two months and many more cottage swims left and I intend to make the most of them, complete with my replenished urban necessities: bagels, gravlax, and clean teeth.         

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