Public Transportation – Episode I

All Posts, My 20s

I’ve always had a car.

When I was younger I participated in a lot of extracurricular activities. I danced 5 days a week, did piano lessons, played hockey, and tutored. Needless to say, my parents got pretty tired of being my personal chauffeur. So, as soon as I turned 16 they “encouraged” me to get my driver’s license and put me through driver’s ed.

Living in Ottawa, I guess it’s not surprising that every one of my driving lessons happened during a snow storm.

I became a very proficient winter driver – a veritable Canadian necessity.

A few years after borrowing my parents’ car, my dad decided to get me a car of my own. I drove that little Toyota until it wasn’t drivable anymore (literally), and then a family friend hooked me up with a cute Kia Sportage. I also drove that vehicle until it had to be sold for parts, and then I bought myself a used Ford Escape. I drove that car until…

I moved to Toronto.

I left my SUV in Ottawa. It seemed silly to take it to the city. I’d have to pay to park at my apartment building, I’d have to pay to park at the university, and I’d have to drive through Toronto traffic all the time. I’m a proficient winter driver, no one ever said anything about being a proficient city driver.

At first I was a bit upset about not having my car. It seemed ultimately inconvenient to have to base my schedule on something as silly as public transit. I’ve always been self reliant! Eventually though, I got used to relying on external forces outside of my control. I even began to like it! (One hour of guilt free knitting a day?! Hey oh!)

I would even go so far as to say I liked it better than driving. In the last nine months or so, every time I’ve gone back to Ottawa, I’ve more or less demanded to be chauffeured around by my boyfriend (sorry Lug!) I’m pretty fortunate in Toronto, actually. The street car picks me up in front of my apartment, and drops me off right at school – just like in kindergarten. No traffic, no parking, no fuss.

There have been times, though, when public transit and I were “friends-off”. And here’s why.


One day in February, the street car came to pick me up like the small 4 year old I think I am. Much to my chagrin (I couldn’t wait to use that saying!), I couldn’t find my metro pass. Yikes. I also didn’t have a token or any change to pay for my pseudo school bus ride. So, I went back to my apartment, tore it apart, didn’t find my metro pass, and sat down on my kitchen floor. I thought it all through:

  • I need to use public transit every day, twice a day
  • I bought a metro pass to be able to use public transit every day, twice a day
  • I paid $112.00 for said metro pass to use public transit everyday, twice a day
  • I lost said metro pass
  • I wasted $112.00 upon losing said metro pass
  • I don’t have an additional $112.00 to spend on another metro pass
  • There are 21 days left in this month
  • I need to use public transit every day, twice a day

Well shit.

I thought about getting upset. Maybe stomping around, yelling a bit. I could cry. I could be grumpy. The possible negative reactions were basically endless. Harder was trying to find positive reactions. Then my brain was like,

Hey Gabriella, you know what’s ridiculous? That you’re a full adult, sitting on your kitchen floor when you’re supposed to be giving a presentation because you lost your metro pass and can’t find three dollars. Also, welcome to being a twenty-something year old.

So there you have it. Being a twenty-something doesn’t mean showing up fresh faced to all your presentations like on TV commercials. It means accepting that sometimes you’re going to find yourself sitting on your ass (literally) because you don’t have $3…because you raided your piggy bank the last time you were craving Twizzlers.

I thought about it for a second. I’m way too practical to sit around wallowing when I’m supposed to be giving a presentation. I asked my roommate if she had any change  and I hopped on the next streetcar, where I did some budget thinking.

Ok. I need to come up with $112 I wasn’t prepared to spend – what can go? I don’t need that new pair of glasses I was going to get. I can see just fine with the ones I have. But, I do wear them everyday. They’re like a necessary accessory. So those can’t go.

I could make up for having to buy two metro passes this month by not getting my yoga membership next month. Except, how am I then going to be a twenty-something Toronto urbanite? Ya, I better keep the membership.

I was becoming upset, but then it hit me. Groceries. I just won’t buy groceries!

Being a twenty-something year old is all about making important sacrifices, after all.


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