Tag Archives: Toronto

Day 733: TTC kindness

I heard about this story on CBC radio this morning and had to share the original FB post that sparked the story:


I sincerely hope I would jump in and try to help if anything like this ever happens to me.

After all, I also don’t leave the house without Advil. 🙂


Song of the day for your listening pleasure:


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Day 729: We are in this together


Stumbled across this photo and had to share.

It reminded me that acts of kindness can occur in the most unlikely places.

I’ve been practicing “random acts of friendliness” lately, which doesn’t sound like much except that I might be the least friendly person I know.

12670339_1018429908252027_8086540552589000654_nNot that I don’t like people, I do. Most people. Okay, some people. But I tend to walk around lost in my own thoughts so I frequently pass by someone I know and they have to wave their arms in front of me to get me to pay attention and notice them.

In the past few weeks, though, I have made a concerted effort to smile at strangers, hold doors open, the works. This is a big city, so sometimes that has gotten me strange looks, but not very often, surprisingly enough.

But, as I found out the other day, looks can be deceiving.

In our office building, because of a glitch with our elevator system, we need security guards to ride up and down with us from the seventh floor and operate the elevator with a key. I can’t even imaging how long these shifts must feel for the security guards, so I try to chat with them on the trip.

Most of those on elevator patrol welcome the conversation, but one guy in particular was particularly hard to read. He was seated on a chair, staring at the ground, willing the day to be over.

But as soon as I asked him how his day was going, he turned around and his whole face lit up. His smile changed him into a completely different person. We chatted for a few minutes, and now when I see him, he smiles right away and we share a few words.

I don’t know whose day got brighter, his or mine.


Instead of a song for the day, I have a laugh for the day. Try not to howl, I dare ya!

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Day 723: Strangers on a train


Back on Christmas Eve, I took the subway home and the driver came over the loudspeaker in a super cheery voice and said, “Hi, I’m Mike. I’m a Pisces and enjoy long walks on the beach. This is the happiest train on the Bloor-Danforth Line and I can prove it. Look around. People are smiling.”

And they were at that point. Even me.

At the time I thought “Mike” was just sharing some holiday joy. Little did I know that this driver is on a mission to lift the spirits of the complete strangers riding his train. And that he was prompted to do so by a tragic event that happened on one of his shifts.

I learned all this when a friend rode his train, heard his greeting and was so moved by it that she posted about it on FB along with a link to this CBC story about the driver, Michael Sage. (And I am SO glad she did. Thanks, Susan!)

Here’s an excerpt:

It’s hard to imagine how anyone who spends his days driving through long, dark tunnels would be cheery. It’s even harder if that person is a TTC driver who’s had the experience of someone being killed by running in front of his moving train.

But that’s Michael Sage – or the Smooth Operator, as many in Toronto know him. If you’ve ever ridden the Bloor-Danforth line, there’s a good chance you’ve heard him.

“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, this is Michael, your Smooth Operator speaking,” is a typical greeting to passengers. “I’m a Pisces, I enjoy long walks on the beach and I am my mother’s favourite child.”

Sage says he invented the character as a way of coping with the tragedy on the tracks that occurred during a shift one Sunday last April.

Sage was working the afternoon shift when, out of nowhere, he spotted a young man in the tunnel running toward his train.

By the time he realized what was happening, it was too late.

“It was the worst day of my life,” Sage recalls.

But after a couple of weeks off of work, he decided he would feel better doing his job than being at home.

That’s when “Michael the Smooth Operator” was born.

“It was hard when I first came back so I found using a little bit of humour made it easier to get through the days,” he says. “Sometimes I tell jokes, sometimes I reveal embarrassing moments.”

But what began as a way of trying to ease his own pain turned out to put a smile on customers’ faces, as well.

“It makes me feel like I’m contributing something really positive in life,” Sage says. “And I think that’s what we all want.”

Here’s the rest.

I’m thinking Mr. Sage is aptly named. I’ve been keeping him in mind every time I take the subway now. It’s helped me slow down and be more aware of those around me instead of rocketing into the subway car like I’m on The Amazing Race.

The other day I even stopped, took my earbuds out and listened to a busker playing the worst violin solo I’ve ever heard. But he was giving it his all so I gave him a thumbs up and added to the tips in his open case.

Maybe I should’ve said, “Hi, I’m Deb. I’m an Aquarius and like long walks on the beach….” 🙂

It was Mozart’s birthday the other day, so here’s a Mozart Adele mashup to celebrate!

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Day 673: Unexpected good deeds

I also love seeing flowers in unexpected places!

It’s amazing once you start paying attention, how many small random acts of kindness you can notice over the course of a day.

I took a walk down to the lake today and saw a life-saving one. The road I took has a stop light where a lot of cars make speedy left turns. If you’re walking north on the road, it’s hard to see the turning cars because of the angle of the intersection.

I was walking south, stopped at the red and noticed a group of runners jogging in place on the opposite corner as they waited for the light to turn green. When it did, an older man came out of nowhere from behind them pulling a rickety shopping trolley and started to rush into the intersection. He didn’t see the cars turning left about to mow him down, but the runners did.

They collectively called out for him to stop and he jumped back onto the curb just in time.

I think it stunned him a little because once the coast was clear, they all continued across and only when he got to the other side did he wave at the runners and called out, “Thank you!” It must have just hit him what a close call it had been.

And me? I told a perfect stranger how beautiful her hat was. Not life-saving but it did make her smile! 🙂

P.S. Gotta love these kinds of good deeds. Enjoy!


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Day 659: Starbucks street-team

Photo credit: blogTO.com/photographer: yedman (click pic 4 source)

Sometimes — like the photographer who took this amazing shot — you look up at just the right time to catch a special moment.

That happened to me today as I walked around the corner. I was freeeezing, hands jammed in pockets, with one eye on the traffic light counter (I only had four seconds left!

When I successfully reached the other side before the clock ran out, I looked up just in time to see a good deed in progress.

A business woman was coming out of the Starbucks on the corner and she smiled and handed the homeless man sitting across from the door a wrapped sandwich. His face lit up with a toothless grin as he nodded a thank you, she smiled back and off she went.

And me? Earlier in the day I spotted three pennies and two nickels on the sidewalk. As much as I love finding lucky pennies, I resisted the urge to pick them up … figured someone else might come along who needs the spare change more than I do.

P.S. Song for today: “Unloved” by two of my favourite singer-songwriters, Jann Arden and Jackson Browne. Enjoy!


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Day 657: Snow day deeds

I almost got a closer shot, but the little guy was camera shy. 🙂

Snow has been blowing these past few days here — thankfully, not quite Snowmaggedon … yet.

I observed a lovely gesture on the streetcar today that I thought I’d share. It is freeeeezing — so cold even the ice sculptures are shivering — so any wait outside for the bus or streetcar feels like an eternity.

Our car was about to shut the doors and move on when a young guy carrying a skateboard (not generally considered a winter sport, but there you go) hopped on and asked the driver to wait. “There’s someone running to catch you,” he explained.

Now, I’ve raced to catch a streetcar (or bus) many times and sometimes the driver is kind enough to wait but other times, I get right up to the door out of breath and the driver zooms off, cackling an evil laugh (okay, I made that last part up).

But  no, this driver nodded and waited the few seconds it took for running guy to reach the door and huff-and-puff his way onto the car.

And me? Just before I got on the streetcar, I’d been in a store and tried on a bunch of different pairs of snowboots in different aisles. And instead of just leaving the ones I didn’t want where they were (for the store clerk to put them back), I walked around and returned them to where I found them. At least I hope that was a good thing …..

P.S. Song for the day. The legendary Etta James who passed away today from leukemia at 73. May she rest in peace.


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Day 630: Camera shy

Absolutely nothing to do with this post, but I happened to see these two gents here in town for the film festival (from a distance as they walked the red carpet), and hey, sharing a picture of Mr. Colin Firth is always a good deed, isn't it?

I’m not someone who’s comfortable approaching strangers. My face flushes and I chuckle nervously … I’m sure I end up frightening them more often than not.

But when a random act of niceness is involved, sacrifices need to be made, right?

On my walk back from the lakefront at lunch time, I spotted three ladies trying to take a photo of the CN Tower. They were chatting about where to stand to get the best angle.

I just assumed they were tourists, so I mustered up the courage to approach them — actually, it didn’t take much courage, they looked pretty friendly … at first. So I walked over and asked if they’d like me to take a picture of them together.

Well, either they didn’t actually know each other, or I looked like an axe murderer, because they immediately started shaking their heads “no.” I could swear they all inched away from me a little.

One of the women even started snickering. Or maybe she, too, had a nervous laugh.

Oh well, I tried… tomorrow is another day….

P.S. Here’s Think of You from A Fine Frenzy. Enjoy!

P.P.S. Colin Firth/Geoffrey Rush picture from HERE. Vid from HERE.

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