Today is a freebie vacation day for me. My firm, like many other firms, banks and businesses in the financial sector, shut down in response to G20 security concerns. Not everyone though. I noted with bitterness, a sign at the Exchange Tower Starbucks yesterday morning.
“We’ll be open Friday from 6:00 am to 4:00 pm. Sorry for the inconvenience.”
It’s unclear who Starbucks thinks they’re inconveniencing. Nobody’s going to be there anyway. You could probably shoot a cannon up University Avenue today and not hit anyone or anything. I’m appalled at Starbucks choosing the dollar over the safety of their employees. Somebody should protest Starbucks.*
Like everyone else, I’m not happy about the price tag of this event, I’m not happy about the fence and I’m not happy about the inconveniences we’ve had to endure as a city to allow this event to happen. But aside from all that, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that watching it all unfold has been fascinating to me.
Take, for example, Torontonians. We are often described as cold people. We’d prefer not to make eye contact or speak to strangers. People here act like you’re off your meds if you smile at them. It’s notoriously difficult for people who’ve moved here to make friends. Indeed, when I slipped on some ice this past winter, ripping open my tights, bloodying my knees and deploying the contents of my bag all over the sidewalk, I was truly shocked that someone stopped to help me. In true Torontonian style though, I always pretend I don’t recognize the guy when I see him around the old ‘hood. By the way, that’s practically every day since he lives just up the street from me but don’t worry, I’m pretty sure he likes it that way too.
So when Wednesday morning’s transit commute was derailed (ha!) by a police investigation at Queen’s Park subway station (some genius had left an empty suitcase on the platform and the bomb squad was necessarily called in) throwing the system into chaos (I was an hour late for work), I was surprised to find myself feeling extremely proud of Torontonians. Normally a breakdown of such proportion would cause Torontonians to go berserk. Honestly, I witnessed much better behaviour by New York subway patrons. But Torontonians really held it together. No meltdowns, no bitching, very minimal sighing and head-shaking. The Torontonians I know were replaced by polite and helpful comrades who even shared a few jokes and laughs about our ordeal. If only we could manage to maintain this G20 spirit going forward.
Even the TTC — and I can’t believe I’m about to pay a compliment to these guys — but even the woeful TTC deserves a round of applause for Wednesday’s performance. Normally, you’d consider yourself lucky if you got any sort of update in a situation like this. It’s not uncommon to stand on the platform for 20 minutes or more before someone bothers to tell you the power is off, the trains are down and you’re going to have to take a shuttle bus. This time, however, there were tons of updates, tons of helpful TTC employees shepherding the throngs and even fantastic suggestions about alternative routes to get downtown. Presumably the TTC was just so excited that the delay wasn’t their problem that they wanted to let everyone know. But still, good job, TTC. I am impressed.
So you see, the G20 coming to Toronto hasn’t been ALL bad. It turns out that Torontonians have a heart, after all. And I can’t say I’ve particularly minded entertaining impure thoughts about all the strapping young cops that have been hanging around either.
A few things that didn’t fit well into the above (probably because they don’t necessarily fall into the love category):
- I feel particularly bad for Lizz – She lives downtown and the garbage bins at her apartment were removed as a safety precaution. A lot of the “safety precautions” have seemed a bit outlandish to me (uprooting saplings, anyone?) but that really takes the cake.
- The fake lake. I’ll steal my former co-worker Tom’s words from Facebook: I love that fake lake. How are they going to show it off? “And here’s a perfect copy of an Ontario lake. If you’d like to see a real Ontario lake – look out the f*ckin’ window!!! That’s the biggest one we have!”
- Does anybody else find it bizarro that I am at home today due to security concerns but The Egyptian, who works within the fence is at work? I was actually slated to work remotely today but through a series of events too boring to go into here, it was called off so I got to sit outside drinking Vitamin Water and blogging. Score!
- Finally, my absolute favourite protest so far. It’s G8 related though, not G20. (Close enough). Could this protest BE any more Canadian? First of all, it’s on canoes. Come on! Then the whole, Errr … excuse us … we’d like to quietly hand over this letter of protest … okay, thanks! vibe. I’m surprised they didn’t apologize after handing over the letter. Actually, I bet they did.