For the following reasons, in no particularly order of blind fury, I hate traveling on the Montreal Metro:
Blocking the doors to the trains: It’s 8:45 AM and, although the train is packed, you can see there is still standing room space in the middle parts of the car. However, when the doors open, a wall of grim faced people stare at you resolutely determined not to budge an inch despite that space. Nope, they are going to stand their ground because, by God, they have the right to secure their places directly in front of the doors so that when their stop comes up, however far away that may be, they can conveniently just step off the train without having to push through a crowd in which they are “trapped”. They have absolutely no gumption about leaving people stranded on the platform, making them late for work, when there is enough space for everyone. For my part, after politely saying “excuse me”, I just shove these idiots aside and make my way to the middle part of the car (and I never have problems getting off at my stop). These door blockers should be publicly fed to hungry lions.
Blocking the escalators: I might as well bring this up seeing as I am on the topic of selfish blockers. An escalator is exactly like a highway: the elderly, sick, pregnant and inherently lazy (the latter being, by far, the predominant members in this group) stand to the right of the escalator in order to allow the rest of us, who actually want to travel efficiently from A to B in optimum time, to walk up the escalator stairs to the left. Nevertheless, just like on the highway, you get these stubborn bastards who simply refuse to move over to the right to let faster people pass on the left. Why? Because they believe they have acquired the right to stand there on the left and block other people simply because there is no rule stating that they must move over to the right. In fact, they would argue that the reason the escalator was designed in the first place was so that people could be delivered up and down spaces without having to move the two legs God gave them (they probably keep busts of Jesse Reno and Charles Seeberger on their mantelpieces). They believe that their selfish behavior is not in any way wrong. The same goes for those pricks on the highway who defiantly stay parked in the passing lane doing exactly 100 KM/hour. They will argue that they are doing the speed limit and the people getting clogged up behind them are, in fact, law-breaking criminals. Coming back to the Metro escalators, I also just shove these idiots aside after a polite “excuse me” (an art I perfected when living in Japan). These escalator blockers should be publicly skewered and barbecued on the overheated Metro rails.
The heat of the Metro: The Montreal Metro is abominably hot and apparently all of the heat emitted comes from the electricity coursing down its tracks (hence my recommendation to barbecue escalator blockers on the rails). For obvious reasons, this is unbearable in the summer: you are already hot and sweaty, only to feel thrust into Dante’s Inferno upon entering the Metro. It’s truly suffocating, especially when doing pitched battle with throngs of door and escalator blockers. Ironically though, it’s even worse in the winter. Although the Montreal winter is freeze your fucking bone off cold and you totally welcome the blast of heat as you get into the Metro, after two minutes you realize you are in Dante’s Inferno wearing heavy winter boots, 2 pairs of thermal underwear under your jeans, a heavy winter coat over a T-shirt and two sweaters, rabbit fur Russian hat, a gaudy 6-foot long woolen scarf you have to wear coiled around your neck because your girlfriend made it for your birthday and asbestos-lined gloves. Before you literally melt, you madly have to peel off all of this gear until you are standing, panting in little more than your underwear. Of course, all this crap has to go back on when your stop comes up 10 minutes later and you have to re-confront the -68 Celsius temperatures (-85 with the wind chill). Whoever designed the Metro’s barely-existent cooling/ventilation system should be dropped in the middle of the Sahara desert in August with no water. If he somehow survives and escapes the desert – he should be shot. If he survives the shooting – he should be shot again.
Speaking of inefficiencies I’ll roll 3 specific gripes into one general rant:
- First, why the fuck is Montreal’s Central Station so far from the nearest Metro station (i.e. Bonaventure)?! When I get off the train, tired, at Central Station after seeing my daughter, I have to negotiate a confusing warren of tunnels, escalators (gaaaa!), stairways up, stairways down, revolving doors, alien landing pads, you name it. Why? As much as it irks me to ever admit that Toronto does something better than Montreal, Toronto’s Central Station (called Union Station) correctly and logically sits directly atop a subway line logically named Union Station. New York City’s Grand Central Station correctly and logically sits directly atop a subway line logically named Grand Central Station, etc. This should be obvious to a pre-schooler planning a Metro system!!! Grrrrrrrr!!!
- Second, why the fuck does the Montreal Metro close at 12:30 AM sharp (regular hours, except on Saturday when it closes at 1:00 AM) and not stay open all night on New Year’s Eve? Not only do people stay up half the night on New Year’s, typically they have also been drinking heavily and need the Metro. Not everyone can afford cabs or the .08 service. Come to think of it, if it were up to me, the Metro would stay open all night on every statutory holiday. Come to think of it, why not keep the Metro open all night, year round, seeing as the bars in this city close every night of the week at 3 AM? The demand is there, it would curb drunk driving and be environmentally friendly. In order to cover the costs, the Metro could charge extra for late night service between 1:00 AM and 5:30 AM. Also, the Metro would obviously run far fewer trains during these hours.
- Third, when the city ruminates over expansion projects for the Montreal Metro, why the fuck are most of these projects focused on the South Shore and Laval? I mean, who actually lives in these God-forsaken, post-apocalyptic swathes of desolate wasteland? I mean, apart from strip-mall crawling, brains-devouring zombies? And who would ever want to travel there apart from those harboring a fetish for getting their brains devoured by zombies? Limit Metro expansion projects to Montreal where real, living, breathing human beings live (with the exception of Pauline Marois and her fascist posse)!!! Okay, alright – this third one was just to bug my friends who live on the South Shore and Laval.
All of that being said, I am not sure what would be a fitting end for the so-called “planners” of the Montreal Metro. All I know is that it should be a prolonged, grisly and agonizing death.
People who do not take off their knapsacks in the crowded Metro: No, these are not just kids going to and from school. I admit that the kids make up a significant percentage but I bear in mind that they are adolescents and so ignorance, selfishness and utter disdain for anyone over the age of 16 is symptomatic of hormones run amok and often beyond their limited control. I am just grateful they have not yet started having sex on the trains or publicly masturbating. As for the others, and not surprisingly these are also often the door and escalator blockers – they have no excuse beyond their own puerile sense of self-entitlement. These wastes of space are celebrity wannabes and just because they don’t have the rock star job they feel they are entitled to, the penthouse suite they feel they are entitled to, the chauffeured limo they feel they are entitled to (hell, they can’t even afford a car!), the adoring fans they feel they are entitled to – they will, by God, assert their self-perceived superiority on the Metro by having a totally unbending attitude towards an “underling” who might just actually need the space that they are hogging. A 67-year-old friend of mine told me he took his cane to one of these jerks on the Metro the other day. Because that is just so awesome, these knapsack culprits should die by public caning!
Blaring headphone music: Again, this is NOT at all just the kids who, for the reasons outlined above, I am more forgiving toward. How is it people think that just because they love a certain kind of music, everyone else around them, particularly on a crowded Metro train, will love it just as much? They (almost always men) know everyone around them can hear the pounding rubbish (typically some revolting thrash metal band) that is deafening them through their headphones. They are usually smirking, bopping their heads and tapping their feet looking around for a knowing nod of approval. They simply ignore the uniform glare of hostility, mentally Photoshop in knowing nods of approval and crank the volume up another level. When I was a boy, my ill-tempered father used to lambaste the blacks and the Italians, who blasted music from their convertibles, gold medallions hanging around their necks, as “antisocial”. This is wrong. First, the music the blacks and Italians played from their cars was pretty damn good. Second, even if you hated it, like my father, it was temporary – either the car moved on or you did – and so it was nothing like being stuck in the Metro standing next to Mr. Metal Head. Third, although the concepts “antisocial” and “narcissist” make for happy bedmates, the latter much more accurately describes Mr. Metal Head (ironically, both quite accurately describe my father, but I digress). These animals need to have their headphones nailed in place and then have Barry Manilow blasted through them, at maximum volume, until death by auditory hemorrhaging.
Just do not get me started on how the door blockers, escalator blockers, knapsack toters and “music” blasters are also typically the ones who also refuse to cede their seats to the elderly, the infirm, young children, pregnant women, etc.
Jumpers: These people make the self-entitled narcissists described above look like good Samaritans who would throw their coats over puddles for you so you do not get your feet wet in the rain. Now, before I continue – let me be clear: I am hardly unsympathetic to the depression, mental disorder, substance abuse, despair, etc., that drives people to take their own lives. One of my dearest friends took her own life just this past December and I do not think that she was selfish for hurting so badly the people she left behind. I do not believe she lacked courage and took the “coward’s way out” by committing suicide. To me, it is obvious that people who commit suicide have reached such a dark space that life simply cannot go on. No matter what. Period. I accept all that. But what I do not accept is the decision to throw yourself in front of a Metro train. Never mind that you have severely inconvenienced thousands of people with the huge delays caused by mopping up all of your scattered blood, bone and organ matter. What about the terrible effect this has on the workers who have to clean up that horrible mess you have made? What about all of the witnesses, many spattered with your blood and tissue, who will require serious ongoing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder? I find this means of committing suicide a supreme act of narcissistic self-entitlement: It’s not awful enough that I’ve decided to kill myself; I’ve also decided I’m going to do it in the most public, horrific and inconveniencing way I possibly can so that my pain will live on in all of you. Lovely legacy. If I could get my hands on these losers in advance, I would do everyone else a favor and kill them myself.
Okay, whew! Rant over. I realize that most of this rant has been about the people on the Metro rather than the Metro itself. I am also aware that the Montreal Metro remains one of the cheapest public transit systems in the developed world and so it is remarkable that there is not more to complain about. Finally, I am aware that I take the Metro by choice. I choose not to own a car because cars are destroying what little is left of our environment and I simply do not need one. So, after all the bitching and grousing, I will see you at Laurier Metro at 8:45 AM sharp! Bring your shoving arms…