It rained really hard last night. Thousands were left with flooded basements and without power. Some of us were just mildly inconvenienced. These are those stories.
A Working Stiff’s Mildly Inconvenient Shopping Trip (through Toronto Storm Apocalypse 2013)
I left work at Queen and University to walk home, which usually takes about 45 minutes in fair weather. A bunch of feeble-looking office people were huddled in the foyer, clutching their umbrellas and woefully shaking their heads. “Umbrella’s won’t work in this,” warned one man, and I shrugged. I never carry umbrellas because I always lose them. I had to head out though because I had my inaugural Zipcar rental at 6 pm and time was of the essence if I was going to complete my ambitious grocery shop.
Within two seconds, I was completely drenched. Wet bangs plastered to my face, I looked like a newly hatched bird. I didn’t even bother with using the free newspaper as a rain shield. I just started trudging to the subway. People were huddled at the base of the subway stairs, and gaped at me as water cascaded in rivulets off my dress. “Is it really that bad?!” Another woman literally leapt back a foot and half to avoid brushing against me. Mascara ran down my cheeks as I wrung out my dress. I tried to look business casual as I stood like a wet dog, shivering on the train.
I got on the bus at Ossington and got dropped off at the end of my street. As I trudged, some dickwad (a teenage neighbour that spends all summer smoking on his porch while his parents are at work) let out a loud Nelson Muntz-style “HA HA!” at me from his dry perch. I couldn’t even muster the will to flip him off.
When I got home, I tried to cancel the Zipcar, but it was too late. Too cheap to simply just pay the fee and stay inside like a reasonable human being, I figured, I’m paying for it, may as well use it. I changed into my bathing suit and flip-flops and made my way — now with a shitty umbrella — to the Zipcar lot at the base of Crawford. By this time, the water was flowing down Crawford St. I struggled to find the car, couldn’t open it, tried to call the company, got put on hold. Then the phone got cut off. It was over a half and hour just to get in the vehicle.
When I finally started the car, I steered it like a Great Lakes freighter through the deep parts. I still don’t understand the science of defrosting and I couldn’t see out the back window. So I just soldiered on half-blind, cursing at the traffic that forgot how to drive when the traffic lights go out (four way stop, idiots!)
When we arrived at No Frills, the parking lot was quickly morphing into a putrid lake. There were dozens of empty parking spaces, it was the emptiest I’ve ever seen it. We steered the car up to the side of the building and proceeded to have the most leisurely shopping trip as one can have at No Frills. As we left, an older man warned me as I shoved my cart outside: “It’s rainin’, lady.” Sage words.
Amazingly, I got the car returned in time. I ran home in my flip-flops, to find my basement apartment was NOT flooded. All in all, it wasn’t so bad, just soggy.Miraculously, this didn’t happen to any of us
I am livid.
I left my office promptly at 5 pm just as the heavy rain began. Just my luck. Having no cash on me (I abhor the stuff) my colleague was only able to provide me with a ten dollar bill, so I was forced to traverse a busy Queen Street to get change for the streetcar. Was then held hostage in line behind an older man who was idly chitchatting with the shopkeeper — at a time like this, no less! But it shouldn’t have been an issue. How the troglodytes at the TTC do not accept PayPal or Bitcoin in 2013 is beyond me.
As my streetcar arrived, I was aghast to discover it was completely full and I was unable to board. Was forced to wait for the next streetcar, which followed immediately behind. “Bunching” they call it. I call it institutional ineptitude.
After paying my fare (Three whole dollars! Larceny!) we travelled in complete silence. No words of assurance from our driver, who relied solely on the automated recordings to inform us of the names of the stops. In my day, the drivers would jubilantly sing out the names of the stops. No wonder morale is so low in this town. At my transfer stop, under the precariously narrow shelter, my iPhone app assured me my second streetcar would be arriving in 59 seconds, though it did not arrive for at least a minute.
My hat got wet.
At home, having laid my work clothes out to dry and curled myself up in front of the television, it wasn’t until 8 pm that I was informed about the extent of the damage around town. How the city has not yet developed the means of interrupting a downloaded movie file to inform newsmen of breaking news is beyond me. Once I started getting a feel for the breadth of the devestation, I did what any good journo would do and took to Twitter to make jokes at the expense of the Mayor.
I got a bunch of retweets but was denied coverage in any local media Storify-type round ups. The nerve of these folks to ignore such a wit as mine. More than ever it is in a time of crisis that the populace need mirth, and to deny them that amounts to nothing less than treason.
I am livid.
Should’ve worn my floodpants.
At 5:00 on the nose, it starts pouring. We’re standing at the Toronto Standard exit at Queen and Bathurst. My coworkers take off and I think I’m doing the logical thing by going back inside and waiting it out. Things can only get better. I head back upstairs and sit down on a couch, play on my laptop, not a care in the world. The power goes out.
I start down the staircase and it’s pitch black, using my cell phone as a flashlight. A guy standing at the foot of the stairs tells me to “look out, it’s raining pretty hard out there.” I thank him for this warning because I had no idea.
It’s gushing as I emerge from the building. I’ve also chosen this day to wear a floor-length skirt. A maxi skirt in a flood quickly transforms into a wet blanket. I’m dragging myself down the street towards the streetcar shelter. The skirt is wrapped around my legs and I’m stumbling.
The shelter houses an eclectic mix. A small woman covered entirely in plastic bags. An old man with a dripping wet beard. A club district type dude who’s checking out girls who walk by in wet t-shirts. I have no clue if and when a car is coming, so I call my mother. She lives at Front and Jarvis and I ask if she can come pick me up. She says she can’t because she’s cooking stirfry.
Five minutes later, a streetcar pulls up. The windows are fogged and it’s packed. I get on the streetcar, soaking wet, brutal, wrapped myself in a sweater. Shivering. Everyone inexplicably has their shoes off and we’re all disgusting. We’re all smushed up against each other and I look to my right – lo and behold, there’s Emily from high school I haven’t seen in five years. She asks how I’ve been. I’ve been fine. Up ’til now. We engage in small talk.
Some woman is sitting on a man’s lap and he’s telling her to get off. The streetcar driver announces: “Please, everybody, do not breathe heavily. The windows are fogging and I can’t see.” The crowd manages a laugh. Things are tense.
After about fifteen minutes of cruising slowly down Queen Street, the driver announces that a car up ahead of us has broken down. We can either get out or wait. Everybody groans. One dramatic woman screams.
My phone starts ringing. It’s my dad. He says he’s driving up Spadina on his way home from work and can pick me up. I leap out the streetcar and shuffle back to Spadina. My dad’s car at the intersection looks like a mirage. I jump in. We drive home and eat stirfry.
$10 nearly-new Dunks: well worth braving the #toflood/#totyphoon.
Vidal Wu on his #floodto commute rife with minor inconveniences
I, like many of you, am really good at bringing umbrellas on steamy clear summer days, and am really bad at bringing them on days with actual water falling from the sky. I forced myself to face the indignity of paying $20 for an umbrella at Shoppers, my courage rewarded with the discovery that my umbrella was absorbent. Faced further indignity by paying cash for the TTC, having that streetcar break down heading up Bathurst and causing total gridlock and being forced into a way-too-small bus shelter. The next streetcar that you’ll board will have had all of its windows closed for some time now, so hey buddy, you’re now on vacation in the hot steamy rainforest of an olfactory of commuters. That tingling on the back of your back/legs/arms/neck could be sweat, it could be condensing humidity, it could be bugs sucking the life out of you.
I was actually just trying to buy a pair of sneakers off of Craigslist, a pair of sweet red Dunks that I lowballed to $20. The rain got really bad then; my boyfriend panic-called me and said that the entire city has basically gone to shit and no one’s going anywhere, so I pretended like I was on Survivor and huddled under the door of a doctor’s office for who-knows-how-long: Briefly try to shack up with a cute guy from Grindr because all you want is to be under a blanket and getting laid would be a nice bonus. Briefly assess if you can roll a joint accounting for inclement weather. Get panic-called by your mother because she heard from her brother that my grandmother might not have power. Have a panic attack and struggle between being on your phone and conserving that shit like freshwater. Run from the Annex to Chinatown in the rain and get soaked again, right when you were just starting to get dry. Relieved that her lights didn’t even flicker, and by the time all the loved ones have been called, it’s misty and romantic and you know, everything’s going to be OK now.Us: Could’ve been worse
There’s been a lot of talk out there about the apocalypse (the rapture, judgment day, or whatever you want to call it) and I took the rain as a test: alright, well, I guess it’s here, am I going to take fight or flight? Being the strong and macho man that I am, I took the rain head-on and rode my bike straight out — helmet buckled — onto the street to the nearest subway station, in a rare case of both fight and flight.
I reached Osgoode station only to find out that my knapsack — which contained, literally, every single portable electronic device I own — was allowing a two-inch puddle of water to hitchhike along for the ride. I pulled out my laptop, my camera, my iPod, and my phone, which I carried in hand along with my bike onto the packed subway train. The train started to thin out after about three or four stops, just as a pretty innocuous looking guy got on at St. George, and for some reason took the seat right next to the bike wheel. The wheel brushed up against the cuff of his pants, and the guy made a snarky comment in what I thought was another language. Aha! I thought, another test! Was I going to sit here and take this jerk’s smut? Usually a pretty well mannered dude, I’d decided that I’d had enough: I can see literally dozens of empty seats around me, maybe taking the one right next to the wet bike wheel wasn’t the best call.
The guy then made another comment I couldn’t fully understand, before it struck me that the guy wasn’t speaking another language, he was spewing full-blown gibberish. He then berated me with his full wrath of apocalyptic rhetoric, which I endured for about five stops from the ‘nigh’-sayer while a full train of people looked on. That, right there, is the beauty of the voyeur-friendly open-concept TTC train. He also told me I wasn’t as funny as I thought I was, which was just rude. He followed me off at my stop, and I booked it home on my bike. If I pissed my pants, nobody was able to notice.