We crowd around and wait while the frigid wind blows against our faces. Then we pack ourselves into seats or stand leaned against strangers. We breathe the stale air and see an endless stream of unfamiliar faces.
More people pack in, someone complains about someone else taking their space. The bus stops to let people off, someone steps up into the doorway. The driver says “There is no room, wait for the next one!” One man doesn’t move, so we all wait. “Get off! I won’t close the doors till you leave”. The man begs, the driver sits silent, we wait some more.
At last, the bus arrives at my stop, people crowded around waiting to get on. Out the door and into the cold I push past some slow walkers. A girl and her dog are sitting on the ground beside the station doors, she has a sign, I glance but don’t read it. Around her are paper cups and tea bags, she’s covered with a dirty old blanket.
A few more steps and there is an old man holding the door open, his head is down. In his other hand, he holds a deteriorating Tim Horton’s coffee cup – he shakes it and the coins rattles. Walking through the door and heading down the stairs another man sits on the mucky floor. He is wearing a black jacket covered with band pins, a cane lays across his lap. He is flailing his arms and trying to speak, but no sound comes from his mouth.
The subway reaches my junction. I step out onto the platform, it’s crowded, people walk in every direction. Passing a pillar there is a man slouched over, his old running shoes torn, his soles are falling off. He holds a tattered tin can that trembles as people walk by.
I wait at the bottom of the stairs, there are so many people that no-one is moving. We ascend to the platform above, people rush past trying to catch the subways below. At the top of the stairs I see my train, people are walking, but not fast enough. I rush through the crowd, deking past the slow walkers. The doors start to close and the guy in front of me decides to stop moving. I will not miss this train, so I push through the doors and him, he vanishes into the crowd.
Reaching my stop I enter the mall to pick up a prescription. It is Tuesday so things are quiet, but there are still people everywhere. The pharmacist tells me to come back in half an hour, so I walk around the mall looking at things I don’t want or need.
After wasting some time I’m back in line at the pharmacy. The fidgety guy ahead of me asks for a bunch of syringes, he pays with cash and walks away.
Back into the cold. Crossing the crosswalk a BMW almost runs me over as it tries to catch a light.
Into my building’s elevator, two women talk about a friend who lied about her name to see the same doctor twice. One of them says “The doctor was such a jerk! He wouldn’t do the operations for her.”
Finally, the elevator reaches my floor. Walking down the hall I reach the door and pull out my keys. Inside, my daughter waves and my wife says hello, finally I’ve escaped the city!