Thursday, March 24, 2016

Commute of destiny

Last night I was coming back from The Public Servant (which I enjoyed immensely), and I looked down the street and saw that a police car was blocking off half of King Street.  This doesn't look good, I thought, and I walked over to the streetcar stop.  The eastbound lanes weren't being blocked, but I thought it was pretty likely that service had been suspended in both directions.  Fortunately, I installed a transit tracker app and it said that indeed all the King streetcars were running along Queen St.  (I am not at all big on apps, but this one pays off from time to time.)  It said it was due to a collision, which I assumed meant a car had hit a streetcar, and they were investigating.  It wasn't until I was home that I found out that a car had hit a pedestrian and she had been taken to the hospital, but it indeed was so serious that they were going to close down King to do some investigations.

This on its own would have made the trip feel just a bit like that from the "The Dull Life of a City Stockbroker" sketch.  But it was what happened (or might have happened to me) on the other end that really sealed the deal.  I found out that someone had been shot and killed right around Carlaw and Queen St., which is where you pick up the Pape bus after getting off the streetcar.  I think I must have left the intersection about 20 minutes before it happened.  While the odds are extremely low that I would have run across the suspect, I am still glad I wasn't there.  I have no idea what they did to the bus route, since they closed off Carlaw all the way north to Dundas.

I had actually considered going to the Shoppers Drugs, but I saw the bus coming.  That delay would have brought me uncomfortably close to the incident.

What would have put me squarely into the timeframe of the incident is if I had stuck around after the play for the talk back.  I was tempted.  I am going to be a government employee in only another week and a half, and there were quite a few moments that rang very true in the play (the youthful analyst who has her dreams of doing something for Canada slowly ground down by the bureaucracy, the focus on process over content, the difficulty in obtaining all the required signatures and sign-offs, even the crazy warren-like nature of so many government offices).  There is no question that the Harper administration was particularly soul-sucking for career bureaucrats who disagreed with pretty much everything he stood for -- and he returned their contempt in spades.  There is a moment when one of the embittered long-timers remembers how great things were for policy wonks under Pierre Trudeau.  What I didn't want to hear (and I thought there would be a lot of it during the talk back) was how everyone would sit around and congratulate themselves for kicking Harper out of power -- and how life was magically going to be better under Justin.  Perhaps I am being unfair, but that was what I thought would go down.  In any case, it was a good decision to skip it, as otherwise I would have been caught up in some bad craziness in Leslieville. 

I would certainly recommend the play to anyone who works in an office environment, particularly for the government (well, anyone with a bit of a sense of humour and/or who doesn't think Harper was right to muzzle government scientists and analysts).  The Public Servant runs through April 3.

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