Saturday, September 6, 2008

Torontonian's Guide To Missing Your Train

Today my girlfriend was scheduled to take the train back to Queen's University in Kingston. In this public blog, I'll be referring to her under the pseudonym Evey (after Evey Hammond from V for Vendetta, which is one of the few action movies we both enjoyed). When she called me in the morning, she was preparing to take the bus down to the subway station, and then the subway to the train station, all the while carrying quite a bit of luggage. This lack of vehicular transportation was a revelation to me, so I offered to drive her to the subway, and subsequently take it down to the station with her.

Let's review the design of Toronto's Union Station a bit. The station has two floors, an upper and a lower. Departures and ticket sales take place on the upper floor, whereas arrivals come out on the lower floor. The lower floor is also directly connected to a food concourse which leads to the subway.

We arrived at Union around 11:45 AM, and the train was scheduled to leave at 12:20 PM. Since the ticket had assigned seating, we decided to eat first and catch the train afterwards (a little last minute).

Having arrived by subway, we got to the station on the lower floor. We first debated the logistics of getting her tickets first (she had an e-Booking, so she needed to convert it to a real ticket). I suggested eating at Harvey's, which is inside the station on the Departures floor. However, Evey had a coupon for McDonald's, down in the concourse (just outside of the station on the lower floor), which was valid for this month. We opted for McDonald's, and therefore decided to get the tickets later so as to not have to take the luggage up and then back down the stairs. Our error in this was twofold: First, by choosing the food concourse, we were out of the audible range of the station announcements (including "last call"). Secondly, by not getting the tickets first, we left our preparations ruefully incomplete.

Our third error was not watching the clock carefully. By noon, both of us had just about finished our sandwiches, yet were both still leisurely chatting and picking off our French fries. We probably didn't start back to the station until five or ten past. This, mind you, would still have been sufficient if we had the tickets on the ready. If you recall my Adventures in Ottawa, I arrived at the station at 6:10 PM, my train was at 6:15 PM, and I made it on (just barely).

We got ourselves to the automatic kiosk to convert her tickets, but to my surprise Evey's Mom had used her credit card to purchase the tickets. Without the purchasing credit card on hand, the automatic kiosk was not going to be forthcoming with the tickets. We lined up for an actual ticket salesperson to convert the tickets, but looking at my watch I saw 12:17 PM, and I knew we were in trouble. When we finally got to a kiosk at 12:19 PM, the kiosk lady printed our tickets just in time to tell us that the train had left. Boo-urns.

The next train was at 3:10 PM, boarding started at 2:40 PM. Evey was actually supposed to call a professor and meet up with him later today in regards to a music course she was hoping to get into, so arriving in Kingston at 5:30 PM was going to be a problem. After kicking our heels about until 1 PM and trying to figure out how to get in touch with the prof, we decided to look into bus schedules to Kingston. Indeed there was a bus running at 1:30 PM, but since it was already 1 o'clock, we decided it was safer to wait. We would have to refund Evey's train ticket, transit up to Dundas station, walk to the bus terminal, buy a ticket, and board the bus... After our train experience, neither of us were keen to push the timing too close again.

In the end, Evey got in touch with her professor, who was comfortingly understanding, and caught her 3:10 PM train with lots of time to spare, hence ending our adventure. Review time!

How to miss your train in Toronto
  1. Eat downstairs, where you can't hear any announcements
  2. Make sure you do not convert your e-Booking to tickets in advance
  3. Lose track of time, chatting is an effective method
  4. Buy your tickets with a credit card you don't carry, so you can't use the automatic kiosk
If you follow these simple steps, you're guaranteed to miss your train with ease! For maximal results, make sure you don't check alternative bus schedules until it's too late to catch them. This way, you'll arrive at your destination later than desired for sure!

How to make the most of your missed train

You may wonder what Evey and I did for the two and a half hours while we waited for the next train. Other than frantically trying to organize her meeting with the professor, we managed to entertain ourselves for the duration. In fact, I went and I bought a whole bag of assorted Jelly Belly jelly beans from a nearby candy stand. We then spent the next thirty to sixty minutes taking turns picking them out, guessing at their flavours, and then eating them. There was supposed to be a reward if one person guessed the flavour and the other didn't, but we haven't yet figured out what it is.

What we do know, however, is that I lost the game. A word of advice to anyone who desires to play this game in the future... Melon is not a flavour. Don't guess it. For some reason, I guessed it multiple times. I was slightly disadvantaged though, as those who know me well recognize that my colour vision is less than 100% (don't say colour blind, that is very much misleading and certainly not politically correct), so I ended up double-checking what colour the beans were most of the time. When we got to one that Evey described as "red with... flesh coloured spots" (I think it was Sizzling Cinnamon), I guessed "Bleeding Cadaver." Obviously I've been spending a bit more time in the anatomy lab, but I thought it was a pretty good conjecture.


Mei said...

This is such an interesting entry! Makes me wish I have a train to miss.

Linda said...

hahahahaha, excellent. I will try my bestestestest to miss my train. btw, new facebook is whack, hail to the old! cheers