Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Long rides and short tempers

The Toronto Transit Commission's (TTC) slogan is "Ride the Rocket", obviously a reference to the speed with which you are supposed to reach your destination. But sometimes Riding the Rocket is more like Biting the Bullet, as too often, delays leave one in uncomfortable positions.

Now this is not an eventuality that I was unprepared for. In fact, when it was decided that I was going to commute from Thornhill to school everyday, I resolutely decided to get up at 6 AM everyday and get out the door at 6:50 (sometimes this has denigrated to 7) to make my 8 o'clock class (which starts at 8:10). As a result I can't recall an occasion (in the mere two and a half weeks since school has started) that I've arrived in the classroom less than 15 minutes before the start of lecture.

Today as I boarded the subway at Finch (the most northeast station on the "U"-shape), I heard an announcement that an "injury" at Bloor (the station where the horizontal line intersects the "U") had caused the subway to be shut down from Davisville to Union. No doubt some foolish bloke had thrust himself off the platform, much to the chagrin of both his liveliness and the timeliness of rush hour commuters.

This had managed to cut off my usual route to Queen's Park (all the way around the "U"). Because trains were stopped at Davisville, this also ruled out the possibility of going West at Bloor and then catching a southbound train on the other side of the "U". The TTC was running shuttles from Davisville, but as I have discovered from plenty of experience, boarding a shuttle is a sure way to lose 30 - 60 minutes since trying to fit all the commuters from the subway onto buses is completely irrational.

I opted instead to catch a westbound bus from Lawrence to Lawrence West. However, the service stoppage at Davisville had caused a backup of trains, leading to slower than usual travel times culminating with a 10 minute stop at York Mills (one stop before Lawrence). The clock was ticking.

Finally I got to Lawrence and, lucky for me, the bus was there and waiting. Within a few minutes we had left the station. Unfortunately, the "U" is not symmetrical, and Lawrence and Lawrence West are farther apart than stations further south. The bus made a number of stops, and getting to Lawrence West station actually took quite a long time.

At Lawrence West, I managed to take a pretty amusing photo before my train pulled in: "Please Do Not Feed the Pig." That was about all the amusement I would get for the morning though, because it was already around 7:50 AM, and I was still quite far from Queen's Park station.

Now my professor is a legend. He's been around practically forever, such that doctors that went to school decades ago remember his lectures (and the same overheads he uses to this day). He's also notorious for picking on latecomers, and has a reputation for kicking them out of his class.

Thus, on the train I was already trying to psychologically prepare myself for the verbal beating I anticipated taking while also seriously considering skipping the first class. But since A) I wasn't going to be that late, B) I really should get functional notes, C) I paid a whopper in tuition fees, and D) I really don't feel like I should be scared of a professor, I troopered onward.

(Above: A little doodle I did of myself in DOCH class expressing my unhappiness with the day's events) Well I tweaked the door open to the classroom, looking for a nearby seat, and then stepped in. Now the MSB lecture theatre is actually very poorly designed in that all the main entrances are at the front of the room. I know at Queen's, it happened all the time that students would stumble in late (through the doors, which are almost always in the back) and then sneak into a nearby empty seat. With doors at the front, it's virtually impossible to enter the room without drawing the attention of pretty much everyone in it (who are all looking forward), so it's actually a pretty stupid arrangement. Anyways, the following uncomfortable interaction ensued:
Prof: "You're late."
Me: "The subway wasn't running between--"
Prof: "You're late. Get out."
Me: "..."
Prof: "They all seemed to make it on time."
(Gestures towards students)
Me: "Well I bet they all live a lot closer than--"
Prof: "Did you sleep in late?"
Me: "What? No, I have to come from Finch."
At this point, a number of kind students in the first couple rows spoke up to say that indeed the subway was not running, at which point the professor indicated for me to take a seat, grumbling something about us torturing ourselves. I have to admit, I felt pretty relieved after that little face-off. I felt a little like Elizabeth May versus the broadcasting consortium, where the people spoke up to let her enter the federal election debates. I was really and truly pleased to be part of a class that was kind enough to stick up for me a little.

That said, my professor is kind of a schmuck. First off, he really doesn't pick on everyone universally. Actually, I heard that a few minutes before I came in, two other people rolled in late and he didn't say anything. Certainly I've seen quite a number of people sneak into the class with little more than passing insults from him, and I've never actually seen him try to kick someone out before (although he has a reputation for doing so). What exactly it is that draws his ire is not entirely clear, though I imagine it has something to do with his mood.

I was a little insulted, considering that I'm always early for his damn class. But I suppose it's too much to expect him to know that in a class of 224. I'll probably go through this course and the rest of my education without him ever knowing my name, and that's probably just as well.

Anyways, I made it in, safe and sound and with only a few jabs here and there from passing classmates later. No damage done except to my pride, right? At least, until next time.


terence said...

the "do not feed the pig-" sign.. u sure that only took a few sec? *suspicious look*

a_ndy said...

What can I say? I'm quick on my feet. Obviously, I couldn't have taken more than a few seconds because the train was already pulling in :P