June 10, 2019

Screen shot 2019-06-10 at 8.03.56 PMThe other day I had to rent a car. I work a bit these days with Forests Ontario. We organized a series of tree planting events. I volunteered to go help people plant trees in Waterloo on Saturday, June 8, in partnership with the Grand River Conservation Authority.

I asked for the smallest possible car, and so they rented me a bright-red Chevrolet Spark with, randomly, Quebec plates. Friday evening I had to pick up the car in the P3 basement of Simcoe Place, an office tower near Union Station. Everything went fine until I got behind the wheel, turned on the ignition and attempted to depart the parking garage.

I wound my way up to p1, and then I stopped. Several times I just shut of the ignition, because the line of cars stood parked.

I only figured out the cause of the holdup when I finally inched onto Front Street. Fans streamed eastward toward the hockey/basketball arena. They planned to gather in a makeshift paved holding pen known as “Jurassic Park,” to cheer on the Raptors. The Raptors were not even in town. The game would start several hours later, in Oakland, Calif.

After much idling I finally inched my way west a bit into another crowd. Only here the shirt colour had changed. I’d been in a sea of Raptor red. Now my little car now found itself engulfed in Blue Jays blue. Yes, there was a baseball game the same night. In the next half hour I managed to navigate an additional two blocks.

I had now been in the car an hour and gone a distance I could walk in five minutes. Just think of the trees, I told myself. Think of the good you will do for the environment!

I had instructions to go to a storeage locker in Liberty Village, to pick up a tent, a folding table, signeage, water jugs and a first aid kit. I wound my way slowly over there, and then the traffic seized up again. What was it? I look out and see the telltale red scarves. What were the chances? Oh yeah, you better believe it: there was also a Toronto FC game on Friday night.

Screen shot 2019-06-10 at 8.07.04 PMBy this point, having swilled a bottle of water in the heat in the traffic in the car, I needed a bathroom. Lo and behold, I spotted a portapotty outside the storeage locker. I opened the door. There was a man inside using the thing. He had not locked the door.

He came out.

“I’m warning you, it’s pretty bad,” he said.

Desperate, I entered. The toilet was unuseable, crammed and overflowing with cigarette packs, empty cups, wrappers and other trash. The urinal portion overflowed equally with junk. I used it anyway.

Toronto is kind of just like that right now. There’s too many people, it’s a mess, and it doesn’t really work. But I guess that, right now with Raptors one win away from basketball history, it’s a happy kind of chaos.