I can’t drive in Toronto. I mean, physically it’s no issue. I can move and navigate a car just fine, but my licence isn’t recognised here. My 11 years experience, including that ridiculous RV trip across America don’t count for nothing. It’s the single negative administrative experience I’ve had with shifting my life to Canada. I like driving, I miss the experience of heading down an almost endless road, stereo on full blast, singing at the top of my lungs while the sun streams down and the air con huffs and puffs to blow my hair back. I miss having that quick transportation in a private space all to myself. I miss the freedom and autonomy (pun kind of intended) of taking the wheel and steering myself in the direction of my choosing.
I don’t know that it’s driving in Toronto that I miss. Outside of Thailand, Toronto drivers might be the worst that I’ve seen. It’s a busy lifestyle, everyone seems to have somewhere they need to be 10 minutes ago. This translates to a disgusting sense of entitlement and self-importance where people are only too happy to put their “needs” ahead of others. Angry drivers who seem to wilfully ignore Carlin’s “you are traffic” sentiment appease their own frustrations by honking and yelling at others with identical frustrations. Because burdening others makes things easier on you and that’s where it ends, right? People feeling shitty, determined to drag others down to their mire. Putting the “dick” into “grumpenis”. It creates a chain reaction of angst that only cultivates a general atmosphere of ill-intentioned fuckery.
You know what really gets me about this chro-no-logic (emphasis on the “no”, not the “logic”) mentality? The utter lack of consideration for the safety of others. That bright white pedestrian crossing symbol blaring at the corner seems a trifling inconvenience for motorists who have somewhere to be. It wouldn’t surprise me if drivers considered bodies indistinguishable from speed bumps. Know who my workplace’s main clientèle are? Mothers, babies and the elderly. Whatever your stance on screaming babies, I’m sure you’d rather not give their mothers harrowing reason to follow suit. The number of times I’ve emerged from work and almost been sideswiped by a taxi driver whose “ask forgiveness later” ethos seemed less cheeky, more lethal is appallingly high. By this point the statistical chance of me emerging unscathed makes me think I’m better to avoid streets and roads altogether, elsewise my number’s gonna come up soon.
Thing is, it already has and I still consider myself fortunate. When I was 8 years old I got hit by a car. Reasonably severe, got knocked unconscious, face ripped open on the asphalt. I’m lucky that the only physical sign is a slight lazy eye that many close friends have never even noticed. Zero inhibitions of movement or flexibility. It hasn’t affected the outcome of my life in the slightest. I could’ve lived for the past 19 years with a physical or cognitive disability. More sobering, I could’ve not lived for the past 19 years. This whole project and the 18 or so years preceding it could never have happened. Now, that one can’t be laid entirely at the feet of the driver that hit me. I was a rambunctious little spit-fire and I was at fault. This wasn’t some ignorant, aggressive driver moving ahead to the detriment of another’s well-being. Because of my own actions, I could’ve failed to get back up. Do any of these Toronto drivers think they’d be able to deal with watching an 8 year old child be scraped off the pavement? I’ve been there and I don’t want to wish that on anybody. I may have been lucky to come through as I have. These pricks are lucky that they haven’t inflicted the same on a little Canadian kid.