Tag Archives: bus

Farewell My Long Johns

Scene of a winter wonderlandHave you ever noticed how there are some things that are so important at certain stages of our lives yet much less important in others?

This observation came to me when I unpacked a box marked “winter clothes” and discovered a veritable treasure trove of long underwear.

Given the number and variety of styles and fabrics contained in that box, you’d think I was stocking up for the next ice age or potentially planning to design a wardrobe of superhero costumes.

In the ensuing walk down memory lane, I recalled how “long johns”, as we referred to them, were an essential article of clothing in childhood.

Back in school, on winter days when Ottawa lived up to its title as one of the coldest capitals in the world, they offered an extra layer of protection under my clothing during recess.

On winter weekends, whether my family was outside, skating on the Rideau Canal or enjoying the fresh powder on the nearby ski slopes, long johns under my snow pants were an essential for keeping extra warm. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Humour, stories

Learning to Appreciate Snow Again

As I sit down to write this piece, all is calm, all is bright. Miss Ivy, the “guardian cat”, is snoring on the wing chair beside me while I sip my morning coffee. Just outside my window is the first major snowfall of this season.

What a great way to spend a weekend snow day. I am very fortunate indeed for this simple pleasure.

I look out my window and think to myself how pretty the winter wonderland is. Then I stop myself and say “Whoa! What happened to that guy who used to ‘hate’ winter?”

The answer is that things have changed quite a bit.

For so many years, I have equated snowfalls with stress, the fear of the unknown, and having to dig deeply for an extra dose patience.

I don’t know why in Ottawa the show must go on, even in inclement weather, but only in rare and very extreme weather conditions was work ever “cancelled”.

It always brings a smile to my face to see news reports from other cities that shut down when they had one or two inches of snow on the ground. “That would never happen here”, I always think to myself as one to two inches on the ground is just an average winter day in Ottawa. But it didn’t mean it was an easy day.

Back when I was taking the city bus to school or to work, a snowy day meant a longer commute time in an overheated bus, while wearing a winter coat, sweating like a pig, wishing I could take another shower by the time I got to my destination. It also meant the crap shoot of whether the bus will be late or if it will show up at all, meaning that extra layers of clothes were needed to stand outside waiting, to protect from the elements.

It also meant the risk of being late for an important commitment, which is excruciating for someone who prides himself on his punctuality. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, home, Humour

Top 10 Things I Will Miss About The Bus

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfter being a daily bus commuter for 35 years, I did the unthinkable… I got a parking pass and started driving to work.

Last year, my office relocated just a few kilometres away from our previous job site. In theory, that move should not have created much of a disruption to my commute, but in reality, my total daily commuting time crept up to a 2 ½ to 3 hours.

After 35 years of doing the right thing for the environment and in doing my part in not cluttering up arterial roads, I felt the balance had sufficiently tipped. Three hours per day was a huge overhead cost to me personally. But once I got into the driving habit and I reclaimed some serious time in my day, every day, I knew this was the right decision for me.

However, I do want to express my deepest gratitude to our bus company, OC Transpo, for getting me where I needed to go throughout my high school, university and career years. It was efficient, affordable, reliable service. I was a clear supporter.

After 35 years, there will be some things I will miss:

10 – The “cosiness” of a bus filled to capacity with fellow commuters;

9 – The boundless generosity of commuters who demonstrated huge courage in leaving their sick bed, braving the work day and selflessly sharing their cough and cold germs with their fellow commuters;

8 – The extreme warmth of buses on cold winter mornings, especially when Continue reading

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Filed under Humour, Lists

The Backpack Head Whack

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWith school back in session, so begins a new season of the commuting reality show “Backpack Head Whack”.
Does this ever happen to you?:

– You are on an elevator; the elevator gets to your floor; the doors open and before you have a chance to take a step out of the elevator cab, someone storms in, essentially blocking your path.

– Your bus or subway car is overflowing with passengers and approaching your stop. You get up and make your way through the crowd to the door. Near the door, a passenger wearing headphones does not respond to your polite “excuse me”, so you gently tap them on the shoulder to indicate you’d like to get through, only to be met with the “death stare”.

– On a sidewalk or an escalator you find yourself behind a group of people who are side-by-side-by-side, blocking the entire width of the path and leaving no way to get around them.

When I was a kid, I vividly recall the “village” that raised me (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and babysitters) said things like a gentle “tasse-toi” (step aside), “laisse le monsieur passer” (let the man go by) and sometimes a quickly articulated “Woosh woosh” which was a catch-all that would mean the same as above in addition to “Go!”, “Do it!” and “Hurry up!”

They all spent a fair bit of time trying to reinforce the concept of spatial contextual awareness since I was sometimes deep in my own imaginary world. However, I would like to think that through lessons like this, they did a good job in helping me grow up to be a polite and courteous member of society. But what has happened to contextual awareness?

Just a few days ago, Continue reading

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A New Journey: Blogging in Public (Or The Fear Thereof)

Empty seats on a busIt is clear that when I write, I feel most at home when I am in the calm of the room I set aside for writing. I light a few candles, put on some mellow music, get a cup of tea (sometimes wine, depending on the time of day of course), get into some comfy clothing, take a few deep breaths and then let ideas flow.

Unfortunately life sometimes gets busy and finding the time to sit in my “happy space” is not always possible, yet the ideas are coming whether I like it or not. I feel bad for the folks out there with writer’s block, but this is the opposite extreme which can be just as inconvenient.. it’s almost like a “stomach flu” of words. So the question is how to harness this flood of words and ideas when I am not otherwise occupied.

The ideal free time seemed to be during my commute to and from work which can yield a good 90 minutes per day (And that is on a good day! If traffic is bad, it could take up to 2 hours total) The only trade off would be to sacrifice some of my quality reading time, but I figured if the brain wave was there and would help to populate my new blog, I might as well ride the wave!

At first the idea of writing in public, especially on public transit, made me feel strange… a little shy, in fact. I don’t know why, but the idea of people seeing my unfinished work is probably on par with a feeling of being naked in public. Continue reading

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