Friday, May 01, 2009

A Scene from the GO Bus

I miss commuting to the city.... whether it's on the train, bus, or the subway, I miss the interesting happenings and characters I encounter there.... I know the last time I blogged about the I said that nothing interesting ever happens there.... maybe by comparison, the subway had desensitized me to what is potentially bloggable ..... so instead the scenes had to come via my Sony Cybershot through a dirty window.... well, I guess I just needed to ride it a little longer....

I hop on the 11:50 express from Meadowvale Station to Union Station, I was starting my day late.... an express bus means that it won't be making any stops along the way and will take you straight to your destination.... of course that also means that it's already made a bunch of stops before it got to Meadowvale...

I turn from showing the driver my ticket, to a sea of occupied seats.... scanning down the aisle I find an opening.... beside the open seat sat a figure in a dark hoodie.... with the hood pulled up all the way, it yields only a faint profile of a face.... as I approach, I soon learn that the dark figure is a young lady as she un-hoods to reveal her young face.... young, but weathered by some unspoken burden .... we smile politely as I sit.... I sense a dark aura around my new companion.... it suddenly makes sense to me as to why this was the only remaining seat on board.... in an attempt to avoid conversation, I pull out my notes and start reading....

"Excuse me, do you have the time?" she asks me.... "oh, it's about 5 mins to 12" I respond.... I sense her question was merely an attempt at conversational overture, so I quickly return to my reading.... in the corner of my eye I see her peeking at my notes.... "What are you studying" she asks me.... here we go, I think to myself, for the next 40 mins you're going to be this girl's bitch.... conversation bitch that is.... "oh, I have an exam" I respond avoiding any further divulgence....

"oh" she responds....

"Are we far from Toronto?" she continues..... "oh, not too far, probably half an hour? Are you not from around here?".... I'm so stupid, I think to myself, why am I helping this conversation along?.... "I was in Vanier for a while" she says..... "oh, where's that?".... she looks at me amused at my innocence.... or is it my ignorance?..... "it's the women's prison in Milton".....

"oh" I replied....

How long were you there for, what did you do to get thrown in there, I hope it wasn't murder.... these are the questions that dart through my head, but I thought it rude to verbalize them.... I did my best to maintain a stoic visage.... "Ya, I was in there for a few months for drugs" she volunteered.... clairvoyance?.... or am I just that transparent..... offering my hand to her, I say "I'm Angelo, it's nice to meet you".... "I'm Margaret"....

And so for the next half hour, I was Margaret's bitch.... so long extra half hour of studying.... just take it as an opportunity to practice your listening skills I soothed myself.... Margaret expressed to me her desire to stop using drugs and clean up her life...."marijuana".... "cocaine".... "alcohol".... "heroin".... "you don't smoke do you?".... I guess she got the gist of what I was studying for.... she recounted to me her strong urge for a smoke since she got out of the joint.... like reflex, I began extolling the virtues of smoking cessation... shut up Angelo I tell myself.... I shift to extolling the virtues of quitting drugs.... in Margaret's eyes I could see that this was a concept she had already taken to heart....

"Could you tell me how to get to [someplace downtown]?".... I pull out my map of the city to try and locate [someplace downtown].... Margaret studies the map.... the bus pulls into Union Station.... Margaret expresses once again her desire to clean up her life.... I wish her well.... we prepare to part ways.... she hands me back my map.... "oh, you can keep that" I say, again wishing her well....

I hope she finds her way....Toronto Map 051ii

'Does the road wind up-hill all the way?'
'Yes, to the very end.'
'Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?'
'From morn to night, my friend.'

'But is there for the night a resting-place?'
'A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.'
'May not the darkness hide it from my face?'
'You cannot miss that inn.'

'Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?'
'Those who have gone before.'
'Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?'
'They will not keep you standing at that door.'

'Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?'
'Of labor you shall find the sum.'
'Will there be beds for me and all who seek?'
'Yea, beds for all who come.'

"Uphill"
~ C. Rossetti


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17 comments:

Dennis Villegas said...

There's some very powerful moral lessons to be learned here. Despite the difference in upbringing and culture--people are people, human beings wanted to reach 0out to another.

I have met many people like Margaret. Like you, I detest to see wretched life-conditions. But in the end, like you, I have pity and compassion in my heart for the less fortunate.

Your heart and humanity shines through this wonderfully written article, Angelo.

James Bow said...

A touching story, well written. Thanks for sharing.

Angelo said...

Dennis Villegas: Hey Dennis, thanks. Ya, sometimes we should just be ready with an open ear, no matter how busy with our own lives we think we are. Who knows what our neighbour is going through right?

James Bow: Hey James, thanks very much.

Puss-in-Boots said...

I felt sorry for the poor girl, Angelo, just from the way you wrote about her. I'm glad you did keep the conversation going, because she was obviously wanting to talk to someone other than another prisoner, drug addict, etc. Someone with a bit of normality in their lives...maybe she was remembering a time when she had that and hoping that, by talking with you, some of it may rub off. Who knows?

You are a wonderfully compassionate person, Angelo. I feel privileged to know you...even if it's just through blogging.

Angelo said...

Puss-in-Boots: Aw thanks Robyn, that's nice of you, the feeling is mutual... Ya, I felt bad for her too. I sincerely hope she does better, but it'll probably be a long hard battle for her. I hope she finds the help she needs and sticks to her convictions.

haze said...

Wow, I didn't know you were a snob, lol joking !

Just by listening you have helped her release her burden. It's good to listen more and talk less. This is one of the difficult part, as people always feel the need to explicate themselves. Or establish their points.

Good job Doc, I am sure you passed your exam and Margaret will find the light at the end of the day !

The Nomadic Pinoy said...

I like how you ended it with "I hope she finds her way.." Literally, you were there helping her out locate her destination but ultimately, it's her destination in life that really matters.

Glasgow cosmetic dentistry said...

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Angelo said...

haze: Salut Haze, ya I'm a bit of a snob hehe.... sometimes I just wanna mind my own business and get some reading in...

Ya, I passed! and I really hope she finds her way back on track.

The Nomadic Pinoy: Thanks Nomad, that's exactly what I was hoping to convey. cheers!

Glasgow cosmetic dentistry: Thank you.

mel said...

KA, it was so nice of you to lend her your ear. I can sense that she's dying to have someone to talk to. I also hope that she finds her way.. a way that will lead her to a better life. :)

dodong flores said...

Hi, Angelo!
I believe that from the beginning you decided to ride through a commuter bus, you were being prepared by God Almighty to be an inspiration for this girl. You know, the kind of moment that you shared together is no ordinary for her. I assume there was nobody from the commuters who would like to speak with her, the reason the seat beside her was unoccupied.
She's longing to be heard and that's all she wanted to have. You made it realize for her. It was good you reciprocated with her when she started the conversation. That way, you fulfilled your "mission" by that time - somebody whom she can share and talk to though completely a stranger.
You gave the girl the inspiration she needed, and us in the blogosphere by sharing this story to us. If only all of us can keep that open hearts and mind, there will ever be peace in this world...

Lionheart : Richard the Adventurer said...

Na touch ako doon...

Well, that's the truth....

Hayz!

ghee said...

Angelooooooooooooo!
Pom Kun,ohisashiburi desu!Ogenki desuka?

Im too sleepy now though I cant resist to read your posts and decided to leave you a very "short" message. :D

What a gentleman you are!!Margaret`s bitch sounded so funny,hehe,but I`m sure you helped the woman in some way.Having a nice conversation with a gentle guy like you right after getting out of the prison would be an inspiration and strength.Well,i`m no longer surprise coz I know that you are a good Samaritan. Carry on,Pom!I had a good read as usual!

BTW,thanks for the msgs that yo left in my taggie.I miss you too!Sorry for being MIA for a while. ;)

I will read your other posts again tomorrow,I`ll try to catch up.For the meantime,send my hugs to Nermal. :)

oyasuminasai...Bonne nuit my dear...

ghee said...

hmmm,did you return your comment box to your former one or is it only my imagination?

oh well,it doesnt matter,Angelo,im just curious.i feel like i was away for years! :D

Angelo said...

mel: Mel!!! Glad to see you back, I and all the kids missed you hehe... Ya, I hope Margaret finds her way.

dodong flores: Hey Dodong! I hope I had a positive influence on her, but I think I was the one more blessed because of our encounter. I learned the lesson of having, as you put it, an "open heart and mind" to those with different circumstances than our own. I hope we can all be less afraid or judgmental of people with addiction and mental health issues or others who seem strange because of the unfortunate circumstances around their lives. peace man!

Lionheart: Richard the Adventurer: hey man, I'm glad, I was touched by her story too.

ghee: Gheeeeeee! Where have you been?! Glad to see you again :)

I really didn't do anything special, I just lent an ear... she gave me more by highlighting the significance of addiction and mental health, an aspect of medicine I'm often more reluctant to delve into compared to the more "medical" medical conditions.

I'm glad you're back, my blog is not the same without you!!! Oh ya, I did revert back to the old comment form because apparently Blogger hasn't fixed a bug with the embedded comment form, and some people can't comment on blogs with embedded comments... oh well, you thought embedded comments was too wide anyway right hehe :)

Hope you don't disappear again, it did feel like you were gone for a long time!

dodong flores said...

Hi, Angelo. I got the same problem too with my embedded comment form. It doesn't work with Internet Explorer though it works with Firefox and any other browser. I was told by visitors about it and later on, find it out myself. That's the reason I also used HaloScan and Typepad comment form.
Sometimes, the pop-up comment form is blocked by the pop-up ad blocker. I also don't want to use the whole page of Blogger comment form that will replace your website layout for awhile. It seems that I ran out with options for Blogger's commenting feature. That's why I stick to the embedded one.
A pleasant morning to you, my friend...

Angelo de los Angeles said...

dodong flores: Hey Dodong, ya I didn't realize all the issues there are with blogger. I hope they get all the kinks out eventually. I looked into the HaloScan comment thing a long time ago, but I didn't get it hehe. Thanks man and have a great day too!