I worried not having kids and not ever having travelled on the TTC with a stroller in rush hour, would discount my opinion. I worried I would be judged. I worried what others would think.
But here’s the thing: It’s not about strollers on the transit system during rush hour or any other time, it’s about people being decent to other people. Put simply: It’s not the stroller blocking your way, it’s the person who doesn’t move it or apologize that’s the problem.
This is not a problem that’s unique to strollers, either. There are countless amounts of rude people on the transit system (especially at rush hour). Some of my favourites include:
Al the Aisle Hog, who blocks the aisle near the front of the bus or streetcar even though the bus is nearly empty and there are seats available, making it impossible to get on or off;
Bob the Back Door Blocker, who refuse to get off the bus or subway car, even for that millisecond so you can get off;
Emily the Empty Seat Ignorer, instead of sitting in the empty seat, she blocks the aisle, making it a pain to try and navigate around, especially on a bus, streetcar or subway car that’s pretty full;
Suzy the Seat Hogger, who sits on the outside of a two-person seat and refuses to move to let you in to the inside seat or out from it.
As you can see, none of these are strollers, or even things. I don’t begrudge things, I begrudge the people with those things.
Heck, I travel to and from work with my gym bag, often times with a yoga mat, too. Should I be charged extra? I work really hard at keeping all my bags to myself. I take them off when I enter a vehicle. If I can tuck them under the seat I’m sitting in, all the better. (Nothing is worse than being hit in the face by someone’s backpack — repeatedly, a feeling I know all to well.)
So let’s stop talking about strollers. Let’s stop making this about parent vs. non-parent. Those who can afford more than the Red Rocket vs. those who can’t.
Instead, let’s start making it about common decency. About thinking of others when we’re travelling on the TTC. About saying please and thank you. About saying excuse me, instead of shoving your way through a crowd trying to get off the same train as you.
We may not be able to change the fact that the TTC is overcrowded and underfunded, but we can change the way we treat each other on it.
I had it easier than today’s twentysomethings, and I have no problem saying so. But quite a few others can’t see what all the fuss is about when it comes to the financial concerns of today’s young adults.
“Finally!” was a common refrain from those in my generation. “Someone who gets how I feel and how hard it is to be me!”
I read Carrick’s column and walked away with a mediocre feeling. I didn’t see this as a battle cry. This wasn’t the refrain of a generation. Are things tougher for my generation than my parents? I don’t really know. I can say my parents had it rough while I was growing up, but it was such a different time. I commented on this recently when my boyfriend and I went shopping for tablets.
Back when I was a kid, I remember my parents saving for months and months and months to get a CD player or finally a VCR. Nowadays, my generation seems to live in a kind of “I want, so I buy.” When was the last time you really saved for anything? Personally, I don’t even remember it.
But sure, OK, we have it harder today.
Then this week, Carrick published a letter from a 29-year-old man thanking him for what he wrote. This man, who is the same age as me, lamented the things he’ll never be able to do because things are so tough for us right now. Here’s an excerpt (the man was kept anonymous, so not to hurt his job hunting chances):
At the age of 29, I’ve likely forever lost the following opportunities due to cost and probable inability to make up for lost wages and career potential:
- Getting married.
- Having children.
- Owning a home that’s bigger than 500 square feet. (hint: that’s not big.)
- Studying any more, whether that means grad school, law school, or even just night classes at a random community college.
- Retirement. Sure, I’d love to be investing for it. But with what money?
The piece goes on about how this guy applies for 100 jobs in the hopes of snagging 15 interviews, and how he continues to repeat the process. Like Carrick’s last piece, many of my peers leaped on to this as a battling cry.
I posted my response on these four points on a friend’s Facebook wall, but here they are:
You can get married without a big giant paycheque coming in. If being “married” is so important to you, then go to City Hall and spend $140 on the licence and get married there. This guy is whining he can’t afford the party that usually comes with getting married — the party is not the same as getting married.
Having kids: Poor people have kids. Full stop. Sure our generation hoped to plan better for our kids and have the money, the time, the whatever, but it doesn’t always work out that way. My parents didn’t have all those things and I survived. Love is the most important thing when it comes to having kids, and as J.Lo says, Love don’t cost a thing.
Owning a home that’s bigger than 500 square feet: Again, I wonder where this guy is looking at buying. If it’s in Toronto and Vancouver, then you’re right, it’s expensive. But there are ways to make it work. Did I ever expect to own a home this young? Nope. Is it hard? Definitely. But I’m making it work despite not bringing in the millions I so obviously deserve.
Studying any more: Again, get off your high horse. In theory, I don’t “have the money” to be taking extra classes, but I’m finding a way to. And if I go back for a master’s, which I’m seriously considering, I will be doing it with the help of OSAP. I’m not above having to take out a loan that I pay back. I still owe $18,000 on my undergrad and am happy to pay that back every month. I would not trade having to pay for my education for anything. I know I wouldn’t have the same value for it if it was free.
Retirement: You’re right. We’re all going to work until we die. Poor us.
Now, I’m not saying our generation doesn’t have it hard, because we do — every generation does (heck, my grandmother was born into the start of the Second World War, her parents lived through two world wars and a Great Depression). But we’ve got to stop feeling like we have it the hardest of any generation that ever came before us because it just makes us seem entitled. Yes, entitled.
While I’m sure his job search is hard, I haven’t heard of anyone who applies for that many jobs at once. Which makes me wonder what industry this anonymous letter writer is searching in.
And my second question goes back to my observation about the difference between my parents’ generation and mine: Do we not have the disposable income to get married, have kids, buy a house and save for retirement, because of all the gadgets we buy?
Next time you lament how you can’t afford a downpayment for a mortgage, look at where you’re spending money: smartphones, gadgets, dinners out etc.
And another thing that’s different from our generation compared to our parents: In 1984, university degrees were rarer. More people went to college. That’s not the case today. An undergraduate university degree nowadays does not guarantee you a job, you need more to stand out from the pack.
That being said, sometimes it’s all about luck. I know a 23-year-old recent immigrant to Canada that just landed a job paying almost $50,000 a year — and she has no post-secondary education.
Yes, things are tough for our generation, but let’s quit whining about it already.
I didn’t live in Arizona and wasn’t particularly plugged into that part of American politics. Sure, I’m sure I saw her name in news stories and reports, especially after Arizona’s controversial immigration law was passed. But as with most other American congressmen and women — and even governors — her name just didn’t stick.
Then January 8 happened. I remembered following the events of that day on Twitter, especially her “death” — which was later proven to be untrue. That day was the first time in a long time I turned on CNN to follow the events in Arizona.
I don’t know why, but Giffords’ story struck a chord with me. Even before we knew anything about how she was doing.
After the first post-shooting images of her were released, I was even more struck by Giffords and her story. She looked so happy, so at peace, so OK.
Giffords’ first television interview was with Dianne Sawyer. I spent most of the hour in tears watching in amazement at the videos of this woman fighting so hard to be who she was all over again.
“She sounds like a child,” my boyfriend commented after one section where Giffords spoke.
He was right, she did. She spoke in short, usually one-word sentences. She looked confused when she was asked some questions, but I still saw so much hope and possibility from her.
Late last year, Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope was released — a book by Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly. The book told the story of Giffords’ life before the shooting, but more of it took place in the days, weeks and months that came afterward. How she fought to build her life back — to walk, to talk — to learn everything all over again.
Of course, the real question was whether Giffords was going to run for re-election this year. Whenever it was asked, Kelly always gave the same response: The decision was Giffords’ alone to make, and she had until May to make it.
Then this weekend we got more news from Giffords. Only this time, it wasn’t about her future aspirations. This time it was about her present situation. She had decided she would be resigning her congressional seat.
In a video released on her website, wearing a red jacket almost just like the one she was shot in just over a year ago, Giffords said farewell:
“I will return,” Giffords promised, smiling in a way that you could almost see the “old” Gabby shining through.
She promised that while she was getting better, she needed to take some time to focus on her recovery. And while she didn’t expressly say she wasn’t planning to run again, the video made it pretty clear that her political career was probably done.
The New York Timesreported Sunday night that Giffords would end her term in congress finishing the Congress on Your Corner event in the supermarket parking lot where she was shot one year ago.
Perhaps because of that decision, and so many others, I still see hope from Gabrielle Gifford. Sunday’s events reminded me of some of what she had written in Gabby‘s final chapter entitled “Gabby’s Voice:”
Hope and faith. You have to have hope and faith.
Everything I do reminds me of that horrible day. Just rolling onto my side is hard. Hard to sleep at night. Reminds me of how badly I was hurt. It was hard but I’m alive …
Long ways to go. Grateful to survive. It’s frustrating. Mentally hard. Hard work. I’m trying. Trying so hard to get better. Regain what I’ve lost. Want to speak better .
Trying to get back to work … I’m so sorry I’m unable to work right now.
I hope I never have to fight a battle like the one that Gabrielle Giffords is fighting, but I know I will fight smaller battles throughout my lifetime.
I hope like Giffords, no matter how tough my fight may seem or how futile it appears to be, I hope I am able to hold my head up high and carry on. I hope no matter how dark things may seem, I am able to say exactly what Giffords said:
I will get stronger. I will return.
Of that, I have no doubt.
Good luck, Gabby.
Photo for blog post a screengrab from Giffords’ video announcing her resignation.
So in the spirit of the Canadian Broadcast Standard Council, here are some other songs that came out years ago, but due to political correctness, should be banned from Canadian radio until the offensive term is bleeped out.
This song incites hate toward Canada, and puts our wonderful nation at fault for everything it can think of (“it seems everything went wrong since Canada came along”). And, they have the nerve to call us “not a real country anyway.”
Come on, we all know what she really means here and Canadian radio is not the place to talk about such things.
Could you imagine being in a car and having to explain these lyrics to a child? What are the radio programmers out there thinking?
2. Relax — Frankie Goes to Hollywood (1983)
“Relax don’t do it/When you want to go to it/Relax don’t do it/When you want to come.”
Released in 1983, this song barely made much a splash on the charts. But after it was banned in 1984 by the BBC due to the sexual nature of the album’s artwork and this song’s lyrics, it shot to No. 1 on the U.K. charts.
Perhaps Money for Nothing will see the same sort of chart explosion after it’s ban in Canada.
1. Raise a Little Hell — Trooper
Yes, Trooper is a classic Canadian band and I don’t like banning them from Canadian radio either, but sometimes you have to make hard decisions.
This song is a call to arms, encouraging revolution (“If you don’t like what you got, why don’t you change it?”) and we can’t be encouraging Canadian citizens to participate in changing their country.