Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Owen Sound to Toronto – Terminal to Terminal!

with 5 comments

Squeezed into tight low-rise jeans cinched up by a tooled leather belt with a big NASCAR silver buckle, he pranced into the Terminal and paused so everyone could notice how well put together he was.

From the black leather ball cap where he stored his sunglasses, to the black leather jacket with fringed sleeves, to his cowboy boots with the silver-capped toes and heels, leather was obviously what he felt he was all about. A silver CD player was hitched to his waist and oversized silver earphones were clamped to his head. In one hand he held a KFC bag.  And with the other he pulled out Chicken Fries. He thought he was so cool. And perhaps some of the others in the waiting room agreed with him.

I‘m sitting in the Owen Sound Bus Terminal waiting for the 10:30 AM Greyhound to take me to Toronto watching him saunter to a row of seats well away from everyone else. There aren’t that many people here. Most are students traveling back to University. And they just look at him and wonder if he has ever heard of ipods and ear buds. 

An older woman wearing a heavy brown overcoat and fur-lined hat with the flaps pulled down over her ears, keeps a cautious eye on him through her thick glasses. She pulls her shopping cart closer and begins to rock back and forth, softly repeating the word “bad, bad, bad.”  Everyone shifts in their seats, turns away and pretends to ignore her. Eventually she stops.

“Are you OK, hon?” says the lady behind the counter. (She calls everyone who buys a ticket, ‘hon’.)

“Oh yes, dear,” replies the old soul. “I just lost my eyesight for a moment. But, I’m fine now. Um hmm.”

A young mother, ladened with pack back, child and baby seat wanders towards the washroom. Her hair is spiked, her lower lip and nose are pierced. The old woman watches her wide-eyed.

“Oh my, dear. That must be so uncomfortable for you,” she exclaims loudly to the young mother who pays her no attention.

More people drift in and out of the Terminal carrying their plastic bags and yesterday’s newspapers. Some come to use the public washroom, others sit with their morning Timmy’s waiting for the local bus. Everyone is restless.

At 10:20 the bus pulls in and passengers quickly gather their belongings. People are eager to get out of the Terminal and on the road. Boarding is orderly.

Why is it that Bus Terminals always attract colourful characters?

It isn’t often that I ride the bus back to where I came from, but under certain circumstances it is more entertaining and  interesting than driving.

With seven people on board we drive out of Owen Sound through Motel Alley, down Highway 6 & 10 to Toronto, four hours and twenty minutes away.

The bus is clean and our driver is definitely our Captain. Young and neatly dressed, his closely trimmed goatee says he takes himself and his job seriously. You can hear it in his voice when he clicks on the intercom to announce our travel time and the stops along the way to our destination.

Every time we pull in to one of these small towns, though, he takes a quick smoke break. Whether this is a Union Mandate or not, I have no idea, but it works to our advantage. In Orangeville a couple of students convince him to wait long enough for them to get to Tim Horton’s and back.

“Thanks man,” I hear them say. “That’s a two cigarette break.”

The Wind Turbines of Shelburne tell you that you’ve left the country. By the time you pass through Caledon into Snelgrove the creeping sprawl of Toronto is expanding outward like the Big Bang Theory.

It isn’t long before you’re caught up in the speed of the big city. Traffic carries you along as if you’re on rails. The numbers of cars funneling from six lanes to two measures your progress. Toronto is big, dirty, noisy, crowded and claustrophobic.

Stepping off the bus at the Arrival Terminal a panhandler asks me for spare change. He needs an insulin shot and he hasn’t enough money for bus fare. I give him what I have just to get rid of him.

Soon I’m on the Subway, watching the other passengers sullenly sitting with downcast eyes, not smiling, avoiding the glance of anyone who looks at them.

 “THIS USE TO BE ME!” I think. And I feel like I’ve gone from one Terminal to another.

Then the realization that I’m just visiting hits and I’m the only one on the train smiling.


Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

March 17, 2008 at 9:31 PM

Posted in Home Town

5 Responses

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  1. Aesop’s Fable of the Town & Country Mouse teaches:
    “Better beans & bacon in peace than cakes & ale in fear”
    Hope to see you soon.


    March 19, 2008 at 8:30 PM

  2. Ed:
    What a pleasure to read your words again. It just sounds like you talking. I laughed my ass off. So direct. So descriptive. So entertaining.
    Good for you.

    Ken Rodger

    May 20, 2008 at 9:48 PM

  3. […] Owen Sound to Toronto – Terminal to Terminal! March 2008 2 comments 4 […]

  4. Great piece. I can “see” it all as I’m reading it and even though I’m a big-city, cement type of person I just KNEW you would end the piece by “smiling”.


    August 10, 2014 at 12:42 PM

    • Thanks O & O. But I thought you traded in your “big-city-cement persona” for
      sun shine, beaches and warm sun a long time ago. Lol.


      August 10, 2014 at 1:38 PM

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