Urine Smell: Tales Of Public Transit

Written by Jeff Wright

To drive, or not to drive. That isn't a question. One, it doesn't have a question mark at the end of it, and secondly because I don't have my driver's license. Due to my fear of hitting people with a car, I remain license-less. This forces me to often use public transit. The TTC. The Toronto Transit Commission.

There are weird and annoying people on public transit. Anyone who has rode in a streetcar, bus, or subway knows that. This is a document of some of the oddballs I've encountered, and a survival kit of sorts when dealing with public transit.

There are a few things that help ward off weirdoes while riding the rocket.

1)Friends: Friends are often a good garlic for the streetcar vampires. But often, it can backfire since it gives a person more of an audience to preach their craziness.

2)Walkman (or personal cassette recorder, to not use a TM): Having a pair of headphones on and closing your eyes makes you impossible to approach to speak with.

3)Book: Pretty much makes you look as occupied and out of your surroundings as number 2.

Now on to the stories. You will understand why I hate the weirdoes on public transit.

Flashback a couple years back. I'm sitting down on a red underpadded seat, minding my own business as usual. I'm not a trouble maker. Lets just say I was looking out the window, admiring the beautiful night. Looking at the hookers and what not. "I'd do her. Nope. I'd do her. Yeah, she's hot. Eww. I'd do her if she wasn't twelve." Well, how about we say I was just looking out the window at the stars. Yeah. All of a sudden, a drunkard sitting in the seat behind me, (who had been sleeping like your sister's baby since I'd gotten on the car) wakes up and somehow his leg swings up and around the seat to hit me squarely in the back of the head. "I am King Tut. Bow down before me!" The guy kicked me in the head again, bringing me back into the real world. He apologized and got off.

Later that year. Coming home from school. That's what students do. The streetcar is packed, and I'm sitting down. A guy comes up to me and tells me to get out of my seat. This guy is only a couple years older than me. He's not with walker and bag full of cat food.

"No, I don't think so."

"Get up. I want to sit down."


"Get up now or I'm gonna beat you up."

"I'm not getting up."

"I said get up."

". yeah, whatever. I told you I'm not getting up."(turning over to his friend)"He ain't gonna move. Does he know who he's talking to? (back to me) Get up."

"No. Look, I'm getting off in about four stops. You can have my seat then."

"I want it now. Get up"

"I'll get up when I'm gonna get off."

(at this point, the guy grabs my hat off my head and throws it down the streetcar)

"He he he. Now get up."

"No. (to the guy who has caught my hat) Yeah, that's mine. Can you pass that back here please? (the hat starts its way back to me) Thanks."

"No, don't give him that hat back."

(I get my hat back, and put it on my head) "Thanks a lot."

"Get up bitch, I'm gonna beat you up."

"Okay, I'll get up. This is my stop. (I get up) There ya go. Was that really worth all the hassle? I told you I'd let you have it when I got off."

(I get off and he sits down)

Early this year. I was going on the streetcar on my way home from buying a couple Cds, and as I got on, somebody grabbed my arm. It was the kind of grab that people you know do when they want to stop you and get your attention. So I look back expecting to see one of my friends. But it's not one of my friends. It's this old guy who looked like he hadn't showered in a while. Actually I'm not sure if he ever had. But he looks at me with a drunken glare.


I'm a bit confused. So I look at him a bit closer, just to sort of suck in the details. Whatever, right? Well I break loose from his grip and walk into the second section of the streetcar to make distance between us. Then a moment of guilt came over me. I did know that drunk. So I walk back to him. "I'm so sorry I brushed you off. I didn't recognize you." "You hurt my feelings man. I molest you as a small child and you forget me? That's not friends. That's not pals." "I'm sorry. My parents sent me to therapy for it and I was hypnotized by some quack and he made me forget all about you. It's all still sort of cloudy but I do remember you pulling down my pants then touching me."

"I've got pictures if you want; so that you can refresh your memory."

"I think I would like to just so that I don't lose that part of my life."

"They're at my place. You can come up to my apartment to get them."

"Hold on now. I never said I enjoyed it. I don't want to be molested again. If you had had the pictures on you, fine. But I'm not going to your apartment."

"Okay. Do you have an e-mail? I could send them to you that way."

"Okay. Do you have a piece of paper for me to write it down on?"

"In my apartment."

"Look. I'm not gonna go to your apartment. I was just trying to catch up on old times and you have to persist on trying to get me into your apartment so you can rape me again. I don't like your attitude. If you ever see me again, don't grab me because I don't want anything to do with you anymore. Stay away from me."

The latter part of that story is completely, well mostly, fictional.

Last Sunday. Coming home from a movie on the subway with my friend. A couple stops fly by us, and then a guy who somehow looks familiar boards and sits near us. Of course, he needs to talk to us. My friend stays silent through the whole conversation.

"I'm going to kill myself tomorrow."


"Yeah. So this might be the last time you see me."


"Life just isn't worth it. The cops keep putting me in jail. I get out and then they put me right back in. I'm not saying that I'm not doing anything to deserve it, but when you get to my age, you just can't stand it anymore."


"Yeah. The secret is to take pills. That way you just fall asleep. Just take about a hundred pills at once."


"You've gotta make sure you take enough though. (guy opens up a pill bottle he's got that has about 6 to 8 pills and pops them all into his mouth) If you don't take enough, you can have a heart attack. (the guy starts to grab his chest and moans a little)". (a small smile that doesn't quite crack)"


"Buddy, no offence, but I really don't want to hear about your killing yourself, okay?"

"(turning to a couple sitting across from him) Where am I? What station is this."

"So. (I start to talk to my friend, see survival tip # 1)

"Hey guy. I'm really sorry to talk to you about all that shit. I probably won't see you."

"Yeah. Okay."

"Bye. (guy gets off the subway) What stop is this? I don't even know where I am.)

"Anyways. (I continue to talk to my friend)"

That's all the public transit stories I feel like writing tonight, so that's it. I didn't express my hatred for these people in this little piece because it should be pretty evident. You have to take these people with a grain of salt. But if I knew that these were the people that I'd hit accidentally driving, I think I'd probably go get my license tomorrow. Kidding, kidding. I don't want to promote murder. I happen to be one of the few people who still feel that it's morally wrong.