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October 30, 2014
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Toronto: City of Silent Reproach
Contrary to popular belief, Torontonians are not rude. In fact, we are deeply passive aggressive. Which is what makes the city a free-for-all for jerks.

If you are a rude jerk, you should move to Toronto. You will have a great time here, because Toronto is a jerk free-for-all. You can throw chocolate milk in someone’s face and stomp on their foot and they won’t even yell at you. They’ll just tell their friends about how angry it made them and take comfort in the fact that you gave them a good story.

Contrary to popular belief, Torontonians are not rude. In fact, we are deeply passive aggressive. Take me for instance. If a stranger stops me on the street, I automatically resent them, but I still stop. If they ask me for directions, I feel bad for resenting them and try to help. If they tell me about a salon promotion, I silently wish misfortune upon them and keep on walking. I don’t keep walking right away, though. I actually apologize for not taking them up on their scam.

Why should I apologize? That’s crazy. Living with 2.5 million people makes you crazy. Bottling up the crazy makes you even crazier. So you get people doing crazy things, like announcing on the streetcar, “Wow, it really sucks when people put their bags on the seat,” instead of asking the guy with the bags on his seat to move them. And you get people like me who mutter under their breath for eight blocks instead of asking the slow walkers ahead to get out of the way.

If you are someone who puts your bags up on the seat, or walks slowly on a crowded sidewalk, welcome home. There is no end to the shitty things you can do here. If you need exercise, you can strap on some rollerblades and stride like Elvis Stojko down the Spadina sidewalk. You can even talk on your cellphone while you do it. No one will clothesline you. No one will even ask you politely to use the road.

Don’t worry about making friends, because all you have to do is sidle up. Some people say that Torontonians are cold and impenetrable, but those people have obviously never tried butting into a stranger’s conversation. Recently I was talking to some friends about Archie Comics. Someone sidled up and said, “Betty and Veronica were total lesbians.” I should have replied, “Why don’t you try listening for a moment, and then see if you have anything worth contributing to our conversation?” Instead, I said nothing. Now I’m complaining about it on the Internet.

Once you’ve found a social scene, you’re in for life, because no social scene here will ever fire you for acting like a creep. Want a date? Just hit on every woman you meet. No one will call you out for acting obnoxious. No one will even warn the poor sucker who eventually says yes. Social skills are not an issue. You can buttonhole people even though you have nothing to say. You can say weird things to people just to make them uncomfortable. No one will ever ask you what your problem is. They’ll even feel bad discussing it among themselves.

Of course, I wish you wouldn’t move here. Being annoyed at you takes up a lot of my time and energy. It wouldn’t be half as bad if I could just tell you to stop being a jerk and start living in society for a change. I’ve tried, though, and it never comes out right. I either sound like a pathetic schmuck, or a repressed crazy having a meltdown.

And then I feel the silent reproach of my fellow Torontonians. Silent reproach is actually a very effective punishment. The irony is that it only works on people who had shame to begin with.

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