With knowledge of my intent for the day, Justin helped me plan evening dinner plans after our conference concluded this afternoon. Together we reviewed restaurant locations around the city to narrow our choices to a few locations requiring a trip on the subway. We focused our attention on those choices nearest the subway line given the rain that persisted throughout the day had all but soaked us on an earlier walk. Ultimately, we settled on a location named "The Keg" several miles away from our hotel. We heard some positive things about the restaurant from a local the day prior, so we figured it would be a good choice. In turn, we grabbed our things and headed out at 5:30 pm, just in time to catch rush hour traffic on the Toronto subway.
|Well, here's something new...|
After leaving our room we worked our way down to the underground mall we had found the previous day. At that time we had learned the subway terminals in downtown Toronto linked into the underground mall, and with Union Station less than a block away we knew we would have easy access to the city's main subway station. The walkways were packed with people rushing from one place to the next as we neared the main conduit in the underground space. We dodged through several bodies in motion to find a gap in the flow of traffic and began walking toward Union Station. To our surprise, the entrance to the station was the first subway terminal we encountered in the underground mall. After passing through a set of heavy metal doors, we found ourselves at the top level of the central subway station. We quickly purchased subway tokens from an automated booth and proceeded to enter through the turnstiles blocking the entrance to the subway terminal. After a brief walk down a flight of stairs I was on the subway platform, ready to make my maiden voyage on a subway train.
|Rush hour subway traffic|
Roughly a minute after we arrived our train approached and began loading. Justin and I squeezed our way into the already packed space lined with people making their trip home after another workday. We hastily found a small pocket of space near the subway doors and immediately grabbed the red handles dangling above our heads. People bumped into one another as everyone boarding tried to find a space to occupy for their ride to their destinations as periodic tones of whispered discussion could be heard through the mass of bodies. We were close enough to everyone around us that it would have been uncomfortable and borderline unacceptable in any other context, but the confined space made such proximity a necessity. Eventually, everyone settled in as the train doors drew closed around us. Moments later the train took off and we were en route to our evening destination.
|Just another day...|
As I glanced around at the diverse group of faces around me I thought about how each person on the train, simply going through the motions of another part of their day, could break the familiar routine and experience something new. "All it would take is getting off a few stops early" I thought as I took stock of the somber faces before me. Breaking the silence, I leaned toward Justin and said, "Right now, each of them could find something different or experience something new, if only they would make the most of the city around them..." After taking a moment to distinguish the meaning of my obscure statement, Justin looked at the crowd over my shoulder and responded with a brief, "Yeah." "You know, it makes me glad I'm doing this thing, something new each day" I continued, "I can't fall into those routines or habits. I've decided not to." Justin acknowledged my position with a brief statement, wisely avoiding reading too much into my words. I fell silent again as I continued watching the people around me. Over the next few stops I thought about how each of them had a story and about how each of them were likely failing to recognize the amazing things around them. My thoughts carried me for the rest of our ride until we finally came to our destination at Eglinton Station.
|The train... Well, not this one, but the next one.|
The train slowed to a stop, parting its doors at the Eglinton terminal platform. Still thinking about the perspective I had gained over the previous 20 minutes, I exited the train and began walking toward the exit. Justin and I climbed the stairs to find a familiar site facing us on the surface. Rain was falling on the cloud-coated city around us. Without hesitation, we walked straight into the dreary weather and began walking down the street. Once again, we were exploring someplace new and different. We had little knowledge or where we were or where we were going, but we were intent on making the most of the evening. After a little searching we found our way to "The Keg" and grabbed a table for our meal.
|Different but still the same|
Once again occupied by my thoughts, our ride home seemed brief in comparison to the earlier trip. Upon arriving at Union Station, we departed the train and began the walk back to our hotel lobby by way of the underground mall. In a matter of minutes we made it back to our hotel, but decided to stop by the hotel bar, "The Library" before we headed to our room for the night. Justin had the bar's "award winning" chocolate martini as I sipped on a glass of water. People chatted over expensive dinners among the wooden lines walls and leather furniture around us. I took note of the crowd and pointed out a few interesting characters before Justin topped off his martini and we headed back to our room.
|The Library Bar|