A Tire Swing Story is a bite-sized "imagining" inspired by an object I discover while wandering. It could be a curbside trash gem or a message sprayed on a wall. A lost mitten, or an antique store find. Anything goes. I photograph the object and post them together, the story and its inspiration. There will be a new story every Monday and Wednesday. On Fridays, I'll discuss writing, life, love, and coffee. (In no particular order and maybe all at once.)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Casual Fridays: For the love of public transit.

Hi guys, it's Britt. If you've been reading my Friday posts, you'll probably know that I looove situations that involve people thrown, (or in this case crammed) together in a space. Where the illusionary borders between us dissolve. And this is definitely true with public transit.

As I write this in my notebook, there is a man sitting behind me on the bus, coughing loudly. I can hear the phlegm rattling in his throat and feel his warm breath on the back of my neck. Gross? Yes. Unsanitary? Totally. But what can I do? The bus is packed and there isn't anywhere to go. I just have to sit and share space with him.  

Public transit is a regular dramatic pressure-cooker.  
How many times have you seen someone loose it on the subway at rush hour? Have you ever wanted to murder a bus driver after waiting for what seemed like an eternity in the cold?
The floors are gummy. The seats are frayed and usually crusted with mysterious substances. Public transit is a screeching, shabby, rumbling, human comedy.

But transit also has it's transcendental moments. I'll never forget the afternoon in Seoul, South Korea, when I was standing in the bus stop in the pouring rain, drenched and miserable. Suddenly, the rain stopped. I looked beside me to see a tiny, ancient-looking woman holding her umbrella over my head. We stood there waiting for the bus, she and I, huddled together under that one umbrella like a couple of girlfriends.

Tell us your stories about public transit, (your experiences in Canada, and all over the world). Share the reasons why you love it. Or why you loathe it. 

Have an inspired weekend, dear adventurers. And please don't forget to move all the way back. 
Words of wisdom from our friends at the TTC.


  1. Great post. Tons of opportunities for stories and miracles in transit.

    That said, I'm not a fan of the pressure-cooker that is the TTC. They don't do much here to make that pressure-cooker experience more pleasurable. No video screens, no attempt at a clean atmosphere, no visibly significant modernization since the 1960s, it seems.

    I have ridden transit systems all over Asia and I'm almost ashamed to say that Toronto's is one of the worst. $3 a ride, a complicated paper transit system, and subways that don't really go anywhere specific. Even Delhi has a better system than we do. Feels like we're living in the dark ages when third world countries have more developed systems than we do.

    One of my favorite transit systems in the world is in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. It's a mostly above ground light rail system. You can ride the train all the way around the city, elevated above the streets, but still below the buildings. Riding transit there is like being on an amusement park ride with a fantastic view of the city. Bangkok has a similar system. We need something like that.

  2. I once had an old Polish woman bully me out of my seat on the subway. She flapped her arms and motioned at me with her pointy chin until I gave her my spot. I wouldn't have minded so much, in fact, I would have offered her my seat had the train not been COMPLETELY EMPTY!!

  3. A few years ago I came down with a cold that I couldn't get over. I was on the subway one morning and of couse I felt the tickle in my throat, before I knew it I was barking(it was that kind of cough) non-stop. I felt a tap on my shoulder and a little old lady handed me a bottle of water and a pack of Halls.

  4. Enjoying your writing Brittany it's Jake's friend Peter from the Carrot / Yoga guy. Thanks I will read more.
    Public transit all day long for me. It is one of my most important teachers :)

  5. Thanks for your stories and feedback, guys. Yes, Peter, I agree with you that public transit is an important teacher. For me, it's very much a lesson in patience. It's crazy how thoroughly one good or bad attitude will affect another. Thanks for commenting! xo