Monday, April 28, 2008

Transit Strike - the day after

I needed to talk about the transit strike some more.

On the subway this morning there was a pre-recorded message from the TTC thanking customers for their patience during the strike this past weekend. Found it a little annoying actually but I think they were afraid the public might resort to violence or something.

Actually you could tell that the bus drivers and subway guys seemed a bit sheepish today after the strike. Also a little fearful. There were all sorts of statements issued about not assaulting or abusing TTC staff and from a certain perspective it was kind of funny to see these mighty transit men who had just held the City at ransom quake in their boots as if Torontonians were going to dig out the torches and the pitchforks and drag a few of them from behind the wheels of their iron machines and give them a lynching. As if! (wait am I allowed to use that word lynching or will I get into trouble?)

It was also sort of like watching a kid that knows he has done wrong slink away in shame and wait on a punishment that he hopes isn't coming but can't really be upset if it does come cause he feels he might deserves it or in some way provoked it.

That's the way it seemed to me anyway. Don't worry though aside from the odd oddball I'm sure most folks will be as indifferent to their bus drivers as most Torontonians usually are.

The other thing I thought about was just how unfair a transit strike on the weekend is. Transit strikes in general target those that cant do better but its not that simple in a big city like Toronto. A lot if not most of the Torontonians who use transit have access to their own cars. It just happens to be more convenient to escape the gridlock and the $20 a day parking downtown or more environmentally friendly to take the bus or subway to work or school.

but then when you strike on a weekend .....

Well then you are basically just targeting the captive riders cause anyone who can do better doesn't use the service on the weekend with its lackadaisical schedule. You only use transit on the weekend if you really cant do any better otherwise you drive where you're going.

So by having a strike on the weekend the TTC really targeted, shift workers, the working and non-working poor, the disabled, those that couldn't do any better like those that make $10 dollars an hour and have no wheels and for who a taxi drive to work would be prohibitively expensive. These vulnerable folk are the types who suffered the most from the strike. The middle class, the rich well they probably didn't even notice its effect beside worrying as to whether it would be back to normal in time for Morning rush hour.

So this strike to me we just have a union just picking on the really vulnerable. That sucks.

Oh well just wanted to get that off my chest.

ps: as an aside blogger spell check keeps asking me if I want to change Torontonians to Trinidadians. Imagine that eh he!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dear Mr Transit man

You is really a dirty, stinking so n so! you kno dat?

Now don't take that too personally but really you can't blame Torontonians if that is how we feel right now that you went on strike this weekend.

The thing is I aint really mad at you for striking that much. If you felt you couldn't accept the contract then by all means strike its your right. Its just that last week you promised that you would give us 48 hrs notice of a strike and then out of the blue we wake up Saturday morning and hear you was on strike from last night. No 48 hr notice, not even as much as two hours notice just sudden so out of the blue .... bram! bus and subway stop running. People left in the middle a de street like idiots looking for the next bus that ain't coming. Got them digging in their pocket for two coppers to mek taxi fare. Ya mean you couldn't even wait till after payday come to strike? What a ting!

It was also vexing because you weren't supposed to go on strike now. A settlement had been tentatively reached after a strike threat for last Monday. And even though some of the improvements and clauses on the settlement looked to the average man like you and the Transit Union had gotten away with murder and had most definitely gotten the best of the negotiations with the City and the TTC management we had breathed a collective sigh of relief that no strike would occur and all was well again cause yea gas prices shooting through the stratosphere at the moment and this is a City where about 20-25% of people rely on transit to get to work in the morning. So no bus, no train means more drama. Nuff people scrambling to get to work and the city looking confuse like misery move up.

So there we were thinking that all was fine and dandy. You had clauses that if any other transit workers in the whole province got more money than you then the City would renegotiate to keep you the highest paid in the area. That just goes to show how special and important we feel you is that you get that clause in there.

Ya get ya 100% sick leave pay and we was happy for ya. Man nobody din even cuss ya for all them drivers that working overtime and end up mekkin over $100,000 last year. Imagine that $100,000 from driving a bus? I gine let my mudda know that she mek me waste my blasted time wid all this stupid university schooling nonsense when I could have been learning to drive bus and make some real money. Chupse!

And you know what? You had sympathy too cause people was saying cuhdear is a stressful job and we respect that and if a bus driver get assault or hurt on the job why should he only get 80% of his pay while on sick leave? We empathized with your demand for the 100% which you got in the end. It only seemed fair to us.

And we were giving you props for saying you'd give us 48 hrs notice so we could make alternative plans be it slapping tar, bike, electric bike, Go-Train, taxi, car or stand home. We knew a strike would produce bachannal on the streets and we weren't looking forward to one but at least that was right decent of you to be giving us proper notice.

And now this!

Mr Transit man let me tell you now all good will towards you done. D.U.N done!

You had people out Friday night, Saturday morning trying to get home from a late shift or from a fete downtown stuck on the streets, waiting at bus stops far from home, and not a single train, bus or streetcar ain't run after midnight. Not me mind you! Wunnah ain't ketch me! I old, I duz be in my bed at 830 so I wasn't out on the road like some poor fellas waiting on the last bus to take them back to North York or Scarborough or Etobicoke. No sir not me!

But is the principal of the thing man. Cause first off we didn't know that you were even contemplating strike. Like I said tentative deal was reached last weekend and needed to be ratified and everyone breathed sigh of relief. Strike averted, people happy and looking at the makeup of the tentative deal we thought you were happy.

You met Friday and didn't ratify it. Cuhdear now what wrong with the deal? Ya trying to get blood out of a stone now. The City broke, the transit people never had no money in the first place, them raise bus fares umpteen times already in the last two years. What more ya want now? Look this is think line ya walking cause if you ask for too much it could backfire on everybody and I don't know what other driving jobs you going find out there where you going t make as much money as you currently making.

To me the move if the deal didn't get ratified by your members would have been to say we don't like that offer can we go back to the bargaining table or to at least give the people a day or two of warning that you will be going on strike. That would have been the decent thing to do. We might still have cussed you as ungrateful, greedy curs but still you shouldn't just stop the buses at midnight with no warning and leave people stranded so. That is a nasty move man. That show me you ain't got no broughupsy, know no common courtesy, no feeling for ya fellow man, nuh compassion, nuttin so.

I going to pray for all ya at church today though! Ask the Lord for now to hold off on the smiting wid de Thunder and Lightning that some a we feel ya rightly deserve!

Then you say you ain't give us the 48 hrs notice cause last weekend people cuss you when ya do that. Well boy if ya think people cuss ya when there was only a strike threat and you didn't actually go on strike imagine how much cussing you going to get when you are forced back to work Monday.

Did I also mention that ya decide to strike in the middle of the highest gas prices here ever. $1.21 a litre and rising! Chupse! Got me looking to get a used tricycle cheap and done wid car, bus, train and everything one time!

Anyway they going to legislate you back to work on Monday so I will see you then. Ya don't have to be frighten when ya see me Monday morning though. I ain't one of them fellas that going abuse you and cuss you for this debacle. I might even offer you a good morning (yes even though I don't speak on the train I will say morning to the bus driver) if my mind bid muh to but just remember that somewhere deep in my head even if I smiling I still thinking that all ya is dirty stinking so n sos to leff the people stranded so with no warning.

Ya use up all the good will we de people had for ya!

Lemma guhlong to church before ya mek me sin my soul more. I still going pray for you though.

Your Truly

ps: just because I cuss ya here don't play ya driving past me tomorrow morning and don't pick me up ya kno!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

You talking to me?

"Good Morning!"

Those two innocuous words threw me for a loop this morning. They came from a man sitting adjacent to me on the subway as I rode in on my way to work.

In the three seconds it took for my bajan manners to kick in and respond likewise about 20 thoughts ran through my head.

Wait I kno he?

He cud be talking to me?

Wha um is he want now? I aint got nuh money ta give a fella! I aint care wha kinda sob story he got fa me.

Wait he is ona dem cult fellas dat gine try to start confusing me bout visiting he church? Cause fa right now I aint looking to follow nuh cults. Next ting I know dem tekkin all my salary an de Pastor tief off my wife to be he concubine an leff me by my one self. Actually wait that cud be a good ting, lemma hear wha he got to say an if de pastor lookin fa concubines.

He head bad? he aint look like he escape from Queen Street but still ya can neva tell dese days, he head cud be bad.

Wait was I was talkin to myself agin and he thought I was talking to he? I gotta stop talking and singing ta myself cause dis ting like it duz only attract mad people ya!

Chupse what um is bout me dat mek it look like I interested in conversation dis blessed morning. He cann see I got a newpaper an headphones on specifically cause I aint looking to listen or talk or hear from nuhbody this marning. chupse!

Wha I been in this country umpteen years and nuhbody neva say good morning ta me pun the train. He cann be Canadian!

Naa he want money I kno he want money, cud only be cause that is the only time a complete stranger will say morning to ya on the Train. yea dat is it.

And on and on it went in my head even after I had responded to his greeting and sat down and started reading the newspaper. I was wary. You would have thought the man had threatened me with a knife or something instead of offering me words of greeting.

As the trip started I kept glancing up, surreptitiously trying to take the measure of the man. He still looked sane, was dressed ok; plaid shirt, jeans, sneakers looked like a computer dude so maybe he didnt want my money and no he didnt try to say anything else to me for the duration of the trip so that ruled out the whole cult thing.

Strange indeed. He said Good morning to a stranger. My mind trys to wrap itself around that unfathomable concept. He didnt stare, he didnt push, he didnt plop himself down next to me almost crushing my leg, he didnt give me a wha you looking at mind ya business look, he didnt give me the unless thats the only seat left in this whole train I aint sitting next to you look. Instead he said good morning.

Whoa! Head rush!

Whats that all about? Doesn't he know that in the subway we try to interact as little as possible with our fellow man? Its bad enough we're stuck on this damn infernal, prone to random break downs, vehicle some for 1/2 hr or more or that we might inadvertently have our space violated, get crushed or accidentally brush against another person we didnt want to touch. Like the white woman who kicked me last week and gave me what I can only interpret as a 'dont touch me you dirty n****' look when my foot accidentally touched hers as I moved to let someone pass. And yes I had said sorry. Dry up ol hag! Ya feel I wanta play footsies wid de likes a you. Chupse!

Willingly inviting contact with a stranger? On the subway? You mad or drunk boy? No sar. What gives?

I mean as an aside funny thing about it is that we attempt to be islands in this sea of people. Independent, not interacting, ignoring, pretending to sleep, pretending to read, staring into space, trying not to let our eyes linger too long on one spot or person, listening to our music to drown out the others but yet a lot of these folk acting as islands will pull out that cell phone and have a totally and might I say loud as what not, what should be private conversation in the midst of a complete bunch of strangers. I still haven't figured that one out yet though. Trying to be innocuous, blend in, not gain attention, no touch anyone yet have the most personal of conversations in a crowded train? Hmmm. Must be a they are strangers so who cares if they hear what I'm saying they don't know me thing. Guess that can work in a big city but I may never really figure that one out.

Anyway I kept my eye on dude until he got off at Woodbine. In the end I just figured although he showed no other outwards signs of being a stranger to the city he definitely wasn't from around these parts. yep thats it, he's definitely a newbie. He couldn't be Torontonian.

Unless he mad.

Damn I still wish he was from the cult and had come to take my wife off as a concubine. Way to get a brothers hopes up. Chupse!

Friday, April 18, 2008


(sorry havent felt much like posting recently. its all kind of blah)

Now while I dont think Americans have a bigger proportion of stupid people than the worldwide average maybe it is because we duz get blitzed by so much US news that sometimes I duz have to really question that notion.

They crucify my yout Obama for his relationship to Pastor Wright. Say his pastor is racist and un-patriotic and is a devil incarnate for saying the things he say from the people pulpit blasting the Nation. So then they say well if the pastor of the Church that Obama goes to, been going to for donkey years, is so then Barack definetly got to be the same so they try and try and try to paint Barack with that said same brush.

It was all over the news fa weeks. Ya couldnt miss it man, youtube, myspace, she-blog, he-newspaper, them-tv every single place ya look dey had Barack under heavy manners on the back front defending himself against these allegations about his pastor and church.


So how it is now that they just do a big poll the odda day of these same American people in the same U S of A where everybody was claiming that Obama's pastor is a racist and unpatriotic and yet the poll results can claim that 15% of American people still think Obama is a muslim.

How de man cud have a unpatriotic pastor at his church and be a muslim same time? The man bi-racial not bi-religional!

Good gosh! stupid stupid stupid people!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Update: Toronto folks

This supersedes the last date and venue. Hope to see some of you Toronto folk there.
New Date & Venue

A Different Booklist


The Centre for Urban Schooling

(University of Toronto)

are proud to host an evening with

Michael Eric Dyson

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008 – 6.30 pm

The Earth Sciences Centre Auditorium

University of Toronto

# 5 Bancroft Ave.

(Willcocks & Bancroft - across from Bancroft Hall)

One of the top 100 most influential black Americans (Ebony magazine) Michael Eric Dyson, is coming to Toronto to launch his latest book:

APRIL 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Death and How it Changed America

The author of 16 books, including Debating Race, Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur and Why I Love Black Women, Michael Eric Dyson is making a rare Toronto appearance to talk about the “Promised Land” MLK spoke of in his final speech. Dyson has made recent appearances on Larry King Live to discuss “from King to Obama” – as the U.S. heads toward its first African American presidential nominee, the question of King’s legacy is as relevant as it’s ever been.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Generation Lost

Ever so often lately I'm forced to put on what appears to be my old fogie hat and grumble about the young people of this generation all the while shaking my fist and walking cane at those gosh darned whippersnappers and repeating the mantra things weren't like that in my day.

Today is again one such day.

The thing is, its not like I don't expect today's youth to be different from the ones of my age. And its not that I think the ones of my age were without fault, saints if you wish, or weren't given to a certain degree of lawlessness and causing general mayhem. Its just that some of the things today's youth engage in, well just leave me rather speechless.

Yes I know we usually only get the bad news and society's changed and kids are growing up faster these days and all that but still doesn't it seem like some and I hesitate to generalize here, doesn't it seem like some of today's kids are out of control in a way that we could have never imagined while growing up?

For example just this February in Toronto a 16 year old was arrested for attempting to rob a bank. Ok so when you're 16 I know you can get into a lot of mischief but robbing a bank at that age? Damn. At 16, I would never have even considered taking people's money at a bank. I was probably afraid to even go into a bank and legitimately fill out a withdrawal slip and take out my own money for fear that my parents would beat the hell out of me for withdrawing and wasting my own savings.


Then last week in Georgia there was the case of the group of 8-10 year olds who plotted to attack their teacher because the teacher had scolded them in class. They brought to school a knife, duct tape, a paper weight, to knock the teacher unconscious of course, and handcuffs. 8 year olds. 8 year olds are you kidding me? And although the so-called experts are now trying to play this off like even though these kids had the equipment they wouldn't have done anything if I'm that teacher I'm on my guard and I'm oh just a bit afraid of these kids right now.

Of course I'm thinking to myself at 8 to 10 I couldn't have dreamt of plotting against my teacher no matter how much I felt that my teacher was unfairing me. My teacher was this rather large lady with arms the size of picnic hams who had no fear of using and lots of practice at wielding the strap or a bamboo on our behind for the slightest infraction. Plot against my teacher? Nope. I might get vex and secretly rant about how unfair live was when big people was unfairing you but plot umm nope. Wouldn't think of it. Man if I even dreamt about plotting against my teacher I would have apologized just in case she was a mind reader and decided to be proactive in sharing out liks.

I try not to blame the media, and video games and music and movies and the whole ilk but its hard to not get caught up in that whole blaming game and I do sense that although they may not be the root cause they should share some of the blame too.

My man says its the parenting. The parents of our generation are slack. Kids have a bigger sense of entitlement. Parents don't want to or don't know how to say no to children or not give them every latest gadget, toy or clothing accessory for fear that they will be left behind in our consumer mad society.

The h'experts say dont discipline the children dem, it will stunt their creativity and their growth. Be all friend friend wid dem and laugh when they get out of hand or say things to older people that clearly out of order. Relax nuh man is just children being children. Nuh bother ya head wid de lil children chat and behavior they will still turn out right. Discipline is over-rated anyways. In fact if ya ease off dem they might be the next Einstein or Michaelangelo or one of those super creative uber-geniuses.

Well alrighty then. If the h'experts say so a so a it go.

But then I see another story like this one today. Bunch of teenage girls beat the living daylights out of another teenage girl just because they wanted to make a video to put on myspace and youtube? Lawd come fa ya world!

I mean fights amongst teenagers are nothing new. I mean as far back as you can think there have been fights amongst teenagers some which made sense a lot which really didn't in the grand scheme of things. I mean Cain was probably body slamming Abel back in the day and I can see Esau picking on Jacob as a yout and giving him two slap cross him head for being pops favorite.

As for my generation we fought over girls, guys, property, ignorant stuff, out of pride, respect, and sometimes just to gain a rep but fighting just to make a video for the Internet? I'm sorry but to me that takes things to a new low.

The 16 year old girl who was beaten suffered a concussion and eye injuries amongst other things. All in all though looking at the video I've seen more brutal beatings and I've seen fights of passion, some caused by lost anger and fights for just plain ol silly things (which sort of made sense to those involved at the time) but still something about planning to beat someone just to have an Internet video seems a bit disturbing and callous.

Plus its girls who for the most part are involved (two guys played lookout apparently) and maybe its naive and partially chauvinistic of me although I do know that teenage girls can be pretty cruel, but I really didn't think girls would do something as pointless as this.

All I can say and I probably echo many of former generations is man I just don't get today's younger generation.

I'm feeling old.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Toronto Folk

(PLEASE NOTE time and date here is superseded by this one)

Dont have contact info for all y'all so here goes

April 21st 6.30 PM (moved to 22nd)

Michael Eric Dyson

At (OISE )University of Toronto at Earth Sciences At Earth Science Auditorium U of T

One of the top 100 most influential black Americans (Ebony magazine) Michael Eric Dyson, is coming to Toronto to launch his latest book:

APRIL 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Death and How it Changed America

Please note DATE: Monday, April 21, 2008

LOCATION: OISE Auditorium, 255 Bloor St. W

The author of 16 books, including Debating Race, Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur and Why I Love Black Women, Michael Eric Dyson is making a rare Toronto appearance to talk about the “Promised Land” MLK spoke of in his final speech. Dyson has made recent appearances on Larry King Live to discuss “from King to Obama” – as the U.S. heads toward its first African American presidential nominee, the question of King’s legacy is as relevant as it’s ever been.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


A few years back an acquaintance of mine said something, the concept of which has stuck with me. I cant remember the words exactly but he said something to the effect that you have to be careful what you do cause a reputation is a hell of a thing to rebuild and it only takes one screw up to ruin it perhaps permanently.

Was thinking about that and also thinking about how folk perceive us this morning. May be a duality thing like Amadeo was talking about today but we all have sides that some see and others don't.

Its all about perception, viewpoints and personalities I guess. For the most part the human beast sees his fellow human from a certain vantage point and gathers his perception of that person from this perspective. So just as how a building's facade can be glass on one side and straight solid panels from another perspective so we see only what the vantage point we are at allows us to see of a certain person. Hence your coworkers may see you as a hard worker or alternatively a lazy ass but your church congregation may know you as sweet gentle Bob the Organist. Its all in the vantage point.

The other factor is personality. Without even considering multiple personalities we all behave differently in different settings. You may be the life of the party outside work with a gregarious personality but you may be locked in a mind-numming job or dislike your co-workers and not interact with them during the day giving them the impression that you are a withdrawn reserved person.

It is what it is.

How many times have you had those out of the office gatherings after which a coworker says wow I didn't know that John was so cool, or I didnt know that Margaret was into Extreme Underground Fighting or something similar. Its possibly both because of the vantage point between office and recreation or a possible personality shift between office John and out of office John.

Anyway I could go on but there was no point to this blog. Its just something that came up because I had a conversation in which the name of a mutual acquaintance came up and remembered another persons comment that he was such a nice guy and a sweetheart which he could well be but from my perspective I just think the cat is shady and try to distance myself from him as much as possibly. Thats where it goes back to that whole Rep thing I mentioned in the first paragraph.

Perspectives right.

and why do I think I wrote this blog before but better?