I had made plans with one of my friends on Wednesday to have a day at the Ex. It had been a long time since I’d been there and since we’d hung out in general so it seemed like a great place to do both. So we each took the train, her from Etobicoke and me from Aldershot where we would meet at the Exhibition Grounds.
My dad drove me down, which turned out to be convenient because there would have been nowhere for me to park and leave my car for the day. So he drops me off and the first thing I do when I get into the GO station is forget to tap on with my Presto card, but I don’t actually remember that until I’m on the train, and by that point it’s too late to do anything about that.
Before I realized I was riding the train for free, before I was on the train at all, was wait by the tracks and read as far from the yellow line and the tracks as possible. Anytime I went to take the GO train my dad would warn me to stay away from the yellow lines, because there were strange people who pushed people onto them for fun right when a train was coming by. Paranoia for sure, but just my type, so I stayed reading in a glass enclosed area with a bench when an announcement beeped on:
“Attention passengers, there will be a delay with the 10:06 train. Please be patient until more information can be provided.”
Which is strange and intriguing, but I only have a moment to think about it before an older woman sitting beside me says, “There was a fatality on the tracks this morning.” Which was strange and intriguing in it’s own way, and the older woman continues. “Another train was cancelled because of it. That poor family.”
And I agree with her on that as we question what will happen now, how getting Toronto is just more of an adventure now. A minor inconvenience to us compared to the suffering of a family.
The train arrives and I ask a worker how I’ll get to the Ex, having to make a stop earlier than expected where GO Buses and streetcars will be available. So I get on the train and plug my phone into a faulty outlet while a group of three people around my age sit together, one of the girls complaining, “Why are we even here?” She’s annoyed at the delay, obviously, but she and her friends leave and I wondered if it was the delay in general that did it or their friends bad attitude. The older woman sits in their spot and I join her because she’s nice, but also because the outlet by her works. And we talk about how sorry we are for the workers who have to repeat the delay announcement over and over, now acknowledging that it was a fatality on the tracks on the way to the Exhibition (though I mishear this and think it happened there). The train fills up with confused passengers getting crankier at not knowing what to do, the workers trying to soothe them as best they can. “It’s not their fault this happened,” the older woman told me.
And we continue chatting and she tells me about she’s a Canadian living in Florida but visiting for the remainder of the summer, seeing her cousin and daughter. She tells me about how her husband was an announcer for the Blue Jays in the 70s, how he died in 2005. Her story is much more interesting than mine, but I guess that comes with age. I don’t tell her about my mom.
We all reach the new final stop and crowd like cattle to reach the GO buses and streetcars before any of our fellow passengers. I can see people already on the other side of the tracks running to the buses while a worker tells us to wait, another train is coming in half an hour and the next bus will take twenty minutes to get here.
“Don’t step on the tracks,” the same worker shouts to a man who very casually stepped on them. I don’t know why, maybe he dropped something; maybe he was just being an ass.
So we all stand and wait looking even more like cows, and I call my friend to update her on the situation. Ten minutes before the train is supposed to arrive we are told it’s delayed, and five minutes after that we’re told it’s been cancelled and before the announcer can finish his message I’m running too the GO buses.
I get on (I ran fast) and talk to a woman briefly about the book she’s reading (Crazy Rich Asians) and she asks about mine, and then we both comfortably read in our seats through the long traffic of Toronto.
We make it to Union Station and I don’t know how Toronto works so I ask the driver how to get to the Ex to which I’m told to get a streetcar. I’ve only ridden on a streetcar once, with the friend I was seeing today and even with Google Maps open I can’t find it. I keep miraculously running over, around, and through the stop without actually seeing a streetcar. And I run around for twenty minutes asking strangers, trying to find where I’m supposed to go but no one’s helpful, all with a different answer. And I hate being lost, I don’t know why, some psychologist one day will have fun figuring that one out but I can’t be lost. I’m usually good with directions, but that fear of not knowing where I’m going is still there and wandering around and around on Front Street combined with the fact that I am incredibly aware of how late I am (another thing I hate) I overwhelm to nearly the point of tears before I finally decide to take a cab. The cab is easy enough to find, and cheaper than I thought. It isn’t a long drive but a quiet one, which I wasn’t complaining about because it gave me a chance to calm down.
I finally get to the Ex and my friend finds me at the gates with my ticket. We wander around looking at booths and catching up; she’d already been there for two hours while she waited for me. She shows me a henna tattoo on her arm that she got in the Hobby Building, a Mickey Mouse head that branches out in a floral design on her forearm, the heavier ink already scraping off to show the lighter colour on her skin.
And we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon with snacks (a milkshake and funnel cake), rides (the Sky Ride, Swing ride, and a few others I can’t remember), some of the midway games, and wandered around the buildings some more until my friend had to get to work. We took the tram that goes around the park to the trains and said our goodbyes for now while I explored the Ex for myself. I had dinner at the Food Building (way overpriced, but still good), looked at the animals at the Farm Building, went on more rides and won a small donut toy at the midway (which I later gave to my cats).
When the sun started setting I made my way over to the Sky Ride, which is basically a ski lift that covers the length of the Ex. I wanted to take pictures of the lights from the park from up in the air, it’s something I had always wanted to do here but never had. And maybe because it had been a long time and I was starting to feel tired, or because the Sky Ride is a two person ride, I became aware that I was alone. But looking up I saw a few single riders, a ski lift to themselves. And I still enjoyed it, looking at the lights, taking pictures and seeing how crowded the park was becoming. But I still thought about how it would be nice to have someone to look at the lights with.
And then I wandered some more, most of the lines for the rides too long to bother waiting in. Something about the night and the lights makes them more exciting to people I guess. As I walked towards the train I saw a mini-coaster called the Blitzer, which had been closed for most of the day, open and a line forming so I joined it because why not? I could go home whenever I wanted. It was a longer wait than I thought, but a good way to end the night.
I found the right train home, and tapped on this time, asking a woman and her mother if I was going the right way to make sure. The mother joked about how she always asks her daughter so she doesn’t get lost, and I reply, “It was just so hectic getting here.” They looked confused, “The train was delayed this morning because of a…there was a fatality on the tracks here this morning.” They looked shocked, they didn’t know.
They wish me goodbye and I wait by the tracks, far from the yellow line. I notice how close the tracks actually are. You could walk onto them if you wanted, it would only take a step.
There’s nothing on them, just normal train tracks. And the first thing I notice is how they’re clean, no mess when what I actually mean is that there’s no body, no blood, no clothing, nothing to show that someone was here or what happened this morning. Though it wasn’t until I got home that I learned it actually wasn’t here where the person died, it was further down, just on the way.
I wonder how long it took them to clean it up.
A couple stands near the track on the yellow ling, the man with a squid hat on and the girl inching over the yellow line, onto the gray. Too close for me and it makes me anxious just to look at her; it turns out to be too close for the boyfriend too. I listened to them:
“I’m not going to freakin’ jump on the tracks,” she tells him, then teases. “Does it make you nervous? Does it make you nervous?
And he shrugs, trying to pretend it doesn’t. “It’s too close for me.”
And she beams up at him as the train bells ring down the line and all the passengers gather in close together, cattle again, pushing to be the first ones on while the green and white train slows to a stop.
Isn’t it interesting how quickly someone’s death becomes a footnote?