September 11, 2019 · Issue 01: In Transit

Moose

From the fourteenth floor, you can see how much has changed down at King and Victoria. The skyline is filled with condos. But also, along the plateau of the train tracks: a patch of hill, a shopping cart, and a dead tree. How long before someone developed those, too?

At the end of the day, the sun glares my screen. The sunset overlaps with my blue light filter. I can barely see GChat, where Tom and I stay in touch. After graduation, he went to NYC for work and fell in love with a coworker. I can barely see my phone screen or my match on Hinge. I could go sit on the toilet and have a conversation, but it doesn’t matter. I just try to stumble towards a first date. I will sleep well tonight.

***

At Uptown Square, the mayor cuts the ribbon. The train speeds up, and a figure in a blue moose costume gallops through the crowd at Erb and Caroline, jumping in front of the train, screaming, “WHAT WOULD YOU DO?!”

Eyewitness accounts varied: the person ran out of Knox Presbyterian, straight across Erb, onto the street. No, they came out of the Valu-Mart parcel pickup. No, they were having a drink at the Duke. Before details could be released, the death went viral. Videos were uploaded and removed, think pieces abounded: it must have been some sort of protest or commentary. The moose suit alluded to the city’s LRT safety campaign: “What would you do if you saw moose in the city?” Both a train and a moose could hit you at 40 kilometres an hour. If either were approaching you, you got out of their way.

People claimed it as a confused act of eco-terrorism. Arguments were made for and against public transit. Surely, this was another sign the system would fail. Others said it must be a student, gone off the syllabus. Mental health services insufficient in a community so prosperous. Some, subject to backlash, called it a performance piece. Many called it selfish destruction. Another interpretation referenced City High’s smash hit, “What Would You Do.”

The city resumed service the next day under tight security, following a vigil. The street was decorated with flowers, which blew away and were also caught under the tracks. The driver from that first train took leave.

***

We had already been given the day off to ride the new trains, but management said we could take the rest of the week, if we needed it. There were counselors on site, and I tried talking to them. I tried talking to the rest of our team. It didn’t make sense. I read all the articles. None of them were really wrong. We all just wanted to understand. That seemed to be the main take-away: we would never understand.

You always wonder if you could have done more, asked one more question, said one more thing. Weeks prior, I had clinked glasses with him and our team. After the shop talk settled, I wasn’t really sure where to take things. He sensed it too, tracing the condensation on his empty glass. I wondered then, what was going on behind those eyes, so wide and alert at the end of the day?

I lay awake, imagining what it’s like to be crushed beneath a train at 40 kilometres an hour. During testing, cars had gotten into accidents, but back then it was only metal on metal, a design issue. I lean into the train’s handles, feeling the tracks beneath my feet. They rumble and jolt, filling the car, the space between my ears.