Tag Archives: TTC

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. šŸ™‚


Song of the day for your listening pleasure:

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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 timeĀ I thought “Mike”Ā was just sharing someĀ 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 hisĀ train, heard his greetingĀ and was so moved by itĀ 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 ā€“ 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,”Ā 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 himĀ in mind every time I take the subway now. It’s helped me slow down andĀ be more aware of those around me instead of rocketingĀ 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….” šŸ™‚

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

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Day 660: One good deed deserves another

um, his bus was a more modern version....

Wanted to share a story with you I heard today from a friend of mine. He told me the story, not to point out his own good deed but because he thought it was funny. And it is. But his kind gesture also warmed my heart and I hope it will yours, too.

My friend, Dave, was on the bus when he looked out the window and saw an elderly man struggling with a broken wheel on his pull-along grocery cart (the kind you can fold up).

Even though he was nowhere near his destination (and bus fare is currently $3 here in Toronto), he hopped off the bus so he could help the man move his cart.

When Dave offered his help to the man, however, the man started to laugh. “Oh, this old thing pops off all the time,” he said, picking up the wheel and popping it back into place.

He thanked my friend though, and was touched that he got off the bus just to help him.

As a sign that one good turn can often lead to another, the bus driver (who had noticed why my friend got off the bus), waited for a bit at the next stop until Dave could run and get back on. Not only that, the driver let him on without having to pay another fare. Nice, huh?

And my good deed today? I sent off a postcard to a complete stranger. A little girl undergoing cancer treatments in the U.S. who I heard (via another friend) needed cheering up. I sent her some knock-knock jokes… always a classic I figured.

P.S. Song of the day: An original written and sung by my friend, Dave, himself. Enjoy!

P.P.S. Pic from HERE.

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Day 657: Snow day deeds

I almost got a closer shot, but the little guy was camera shy. šŸ™‚

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).

ButĀ  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 602: Stand-up gal

This picture has nothing to do with good deeds, I just thought it was cool. (Photo: BruceK via torontoist.com)

Is it a good deed to let someone else offer a stranger a helping hand? I ask that question because I sort of had a good-deed standoff with a fellow passenger on the subway today.

I boarded a practically empty train and sat across from a young woman wearing shorts and flip-flops.

Then, a white-haired Asian lady got on and took halting steps toward the middle of the car. Even before the train started moving again, she looked as though she was losing her balance. She wore enormous white running shoes and one of those canes with a three-legged base (for more stability, I guess) but she was very stooped over and wobbled with every step.

When it looked as though she was headed for a seat, both I and the flip-flop girl partially stood up at the same time and reached out to lend the lady a hand, but seeing that I was too far away to really help, I sat back down in my seat.

As it turned out, the feisty old gal waved off help from the young woman and instead stood her ground in the middle of the car, clutching the subway pole with one hand and her cane with the other. (While Ms. Flip-Flop and I kept a close eye on her.)

She might have been shaky of frame, but certainly not of spirit….

P.S. A lovely a cappella song. Enjoy!

P.P.S. Video from HERE & Toronto harbour photo from HERE.

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Day 536: Lullaby on Broadview

George Robitaille expands his job description to "fly catcher."

The Toronto Transit Commission has been having a tough few weeks. First this, um, caffeine-challenged fellow fell asleep on the job … literally.

Then, a video of a bus driver who left his vehicle idling — and passengers fuming — while he ran into a coffee shop for an extended break was posted on YouTube.

After a public outcry over these service slips, TTC staffers struck back … threatening to post their own pics online … of passengers putting feet on seats, talking loudly on phones, or otherwise behaving rudely.

It was starting to get ugly.

Even before all this brouhaha (don’t you just love that word? It’s right up there with “shenanigans”Ā  … but I digress), I’dĀ  been trying to make a point of saying hello and/or thank you to the driver each day. So, in an extended gesture of goodwill to these guys (and gals) who put up with a lot of crud from the general public each day (I know I wouldn’t last a day doing it), I stepped things up a notch.

Don’t worry, no hugging or high-fives took place, I simply smiled a little brighter, added an occasional “Have a good day!” or “Take care!” and, for the most part, they seemed to really appreciate it.

I was happy I’d been making the extra effort when I read this today — it was a story in my local paper that painted a more sympathetic picture of George Robitaille (aka Rip Van Ticket-Collector Winkle, above):

“… this isn’t the first time George Robitaille has been recognized while wearing TTC colours. In 1995, he was honoured for saving a disabled man’s life, according to a Toronto Sun article.

“A former Wheel-Trans driver, Robitaille was sent to pick up a passenger who had a rare lung disease and muscle disorder. Robitaille found the man collapsed on the floor in his home, barely conscious after falling and hitting his head. ‘The door was unlocked, but I would have broken it down if I had to,’ Robitaille said at the time.

“He lifted the man into an upright position and called for an ambulance. The passenger, Brian Mitchell, later said he would have died if Robitaille hadn’t helped him.”

P.S. I was so impressed with the Olympic Opening Ceremonies last night. Especially this Leonard Cohen song from Alberta’s k.d. lang. Enjoy!


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Day 496: Rush seats

Hey, is that me? ... um, no

I saw the nicest gesture on the streetcar today. It was a cold, blustery morning and the streetcar was jammed with people. I was standing beside a young, very pregnant mom-to-be in a blue parka and hijab, both of us hanging on for dear life as the driver jerked us left, right, back and forth. (Must’ve been a newbie.)

We were at the end of the streetcar surrounded by no less than six seated people when the only female in the group stood up, tapped my neighbour on the shoulder and insisted that she take the seat.

“I’ve been there,” she said to her. “Please have a seat.”

The guys buried their noses in their papers and scarves.

And me? One of the others did stand up (they were getting off) but I followed the kind lady’s example and let someone else sit down instead.

P.S. At the end of the day, I boarded the street car with a dear friend and colleague and once again, witnessed a kind and thoughtful gesture as she gave up her seat to a young boy who was becoming agitated by the crowded car. A good deed, indeed!

P.P.S. A lovely song for a not-so-lovely day. Enjoy!

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