I wasn’t sure what would be different about Toronto from other cities I’ve been to. Would there be something strange, even though it seemed like just another American city from the outside? Before I left for Toronto, I was warned by a New Yorker that if I wanted to buy beer that I needed to find a liquor store and couldn’t just find it anywhere I wanted. Well, this is also true of the, still, very puritan Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where I’ve spent most of my alcohol buying years. I was well prepared for that situation.
Turns out, not all that crazy. I mean, every city has it’s quirks. For example, New York City has metal coverings on all of their curbs, a thing I’ve never seen elsewhere. No one ever seems to have noticed them when I bring it up but I think about it every time I look at the ground. Then there’s Boston, which has the most historic (read: oldest) subway system in North America but is actually ashamed of their street cars (the Green Line) where every other city with a trolley system, including cities like San Fransisco, St. Louis, and Toronto, are extremely proud of them.
I did find a couple little quirks with Toronto:
Cars > People
I saw several intersections where signs clearly stated that motor vehicles had the right-of-way over pedestrians. I’ve heard of this before in the U.S. but is strange to me regardless since pedestrians have the right of way in so many places. I know that jaywalking is taboo in a lot of cities, especially the west coast, but most of the Northeast wouldn’t fare so well if cars had the right of way.
Backwards Bus Stops
There’s no other way to put it, the bus stops in Toronto are backwards. The glass shelters that many cities use for bus stops have glass on the back of them and optionally have wall to the side and maybe even a panel on the front to protect bus riders from the elements. Toronto has these four-walled bus stops, but the exit is on the building side of them. When the bus arrives, a person in Toronto would have to walk out the back and all the way around the bus stop to actually get to the bus. When I first saw it, I thought they put in one station wrong. Turns out, they’re all that way. My best guess is that this keeps people from being splashed by water on the street.
While I was waiting in the airport to leave the U.S., I called my credit card company to let them know I’d be using it in Toronto. They warned me about using it there by saying , “If they can’t−something something−credit card−something something−enter the number manually.” …I wasn’t really paying attention because I didn’t think it would matter. As it turns out, I’d be making all my credit card transactions while I was there. If I was at a restaurant or bar and wanted to pay by credit card, the server would come by with “The Machine,” as so many of them called it, and I had to swipe my credit card, enter a tip, and print myself two receipts (one to sign, one to keep). Adding to the confusion was that every time I swiped my card in a machine it would switch to French, a language I know about ten words in. “The Machine” was just a typical credit card machine but rarely am I the one swiping it at a restaurant.
This weekend, I’m flying to Buffalo, NY! I’m part of the ComedySportz Boston delegation to ComedySportz Buffalo’s 6th Annual Improvathon. Coming with me is Andrew Barlow, Matt Bistany, and Francesca