Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Make sure you take a knife and dig out the clotted blood and other things you shouldn't talk about on a train, especially in the Quiet Zone

Friday night, as the 4:53 pm train rolled out of Union, this woman who had rushed upstairs within minutes of departure was still settling in her seat, rummaging around in her half a dozen bags, undressing herself, and blowing air out of her mouth. Tough day, I thought. We've all been there honey.

Suddenly, she pulls out her iPhone from her beneath her blouse, pushes her glasses down to the end of her nose, holds her iPhone at arms length away from her, and dramatically dials a number. Around her, people begin to squirm.

Remember that one high school teacher we all had with the incredible booming voice? The one that could be heard across a busy parking lot, with a streetcar rumbling by, and some guys in a 5.0 blasting some Stevie B., as she hollered at you and your friends to get your butts back into class?

She was on my train.

"Hello? Honey?" She boomed into her phone.


"Yes. Yes!!! I'm on the 4:53. That's right! What's that?"


"Yes, that's right!" She nods emphatically.


"Okay. Splendid! Oh, honey? Make sure you take a knife and dig out the clotted blood, okay?"


"No, use the knife my mother left us. The one with the white handle."


"Make sure to dig it all out and leave it all in the sink, okay?"


"You know I don't like that," she says sternly.

"And oh... make sure it puts the lotion on the skin."

(She didn't really say that last sentence, but she might as well have.)

"Okay... Yes ... I love you, too. See you soon!"

She hangs up.

The reactions from people around her and myself were hysterical. One lady looked like she wanted to blow chunks. The over-enunciated phone call could be heard three coaches over. I think even the CSA heard about the carnage that was about to go down in this lady's home.

I whispered to the man beside me, who looked far from amused.

"I hope to God she's talking about chicken."

Here are some other things you shouldn't talk about on a train:

1. Your plans to give up your unborn child to Children's Aid if it's born with "anything wrong with it".
2. The bottle of wine you stole from your boss' cabinet.
3. Your daughter's first period and how "she put the pad on sticky side up".
4. Jews and their "thousands of holidays off work when they're probably out golfing".
5. Leaving your baby alone for a few hours so you can get some grocery shopping done.
6. The affair you had but you won't leave your husband because at least your kids "will have a dad in the house".
7. Any test result from your doctor.
8. Describing your son's recent circumcision.
9. Bragging about how you never buy a ticket for the train.
10. The result of your latest pregnancy test and when you and your husband will "do it" again.

Items in bold are conversations I have personally overheard over the years. The others are conversations others have relayed to me via Twitter or text message that they've been witnessed to.


Anna said...

I'm the one who wrote in about the woman who talked about her 11 year old daughter getting her period during a morning train ride.

My 11 year old inner self was completely mortified that any mother would talk about something so personal with strangers in earshot.

I had to wonder if she Facebooked it and tweeted about it.

I wanted to slap her.

Nora1968 said...

Cindy, I'm having a stressful afternoon and this post had me cackling with mirth (thankfully I'm working at home today). I've heard my share of SIN numbers, almost-certainly confidential client details and even some WWE-level arguments between spouses in my years on the GO train, but I must say, nothing approaching this particular experience of yours. However, I never cease to be amazed at what people will voluntarily say out loud in public spaces LOL

C.J. Smith said...

I live for the pissed off wives calling their husbands to bitch phone calls!!!

MATT said...

I've heard people order flowers or pizza or something over the phone, and loudly rhyme off their Visa number.

I also had the unpleasant opportunity to sit in a quad with 3 women who, despite a 20-something man (at the time...I'm now 37) sitting in the quad with them, felt no compunction about discussing their latest pap smears. Medical procedures of ANY kind should be off limits on public transit.

Bicky said...

Yesterday, Dakota and I got to listen to a woman bitch about Durham College not doing anything to force her 18 year old son to attend classes. She was maaaad! and the madder she got, the louder she got.

I still remember sitting in a quad with two women where one was talking about the size of her 10 year old son's penis.

There are just some things one should not share on public transit.

Valentino Assenza said...


You're absolutely hilarious!

This is gold.

I have to admit as someone who rides the GO and the 501 Streetcar (by far the most entertaining streetcar for incidents, and forced eavesdropping on conversations) I have heard some completely whacked out phone conversations or loud conversations about some truly insane subjects.

One time on the GO I was sitting with my back to a couple that was having an affair. I knew this because she asked "Are you sure there's no chance of her coming home?" And he responded with, "Trust me, she's in Chicago, we're all good."

Cell phone conversations have been all over the board. I once overheard a woman have a banking conversation where she gave out her date of birth, address, phone number and read out her credit card number and the security code on the back of the card. I once sat beside a guy talking to his girlfriend about how he can't go too long with out feeling his testicles starting to profusely sweat.

I admit though as someone has called out people for ordering food on the commute, I have been guilty of this. I live in the beaches, and as there are a myriad of places that you can pick up food from, there are some days where I am just beat and don't want to cook, I just want to pop into the place, head home and eat. So yes, I have been known to order myself a small chicken souvlaki dinner, or szechuan noodles with a spring roll, or butter chicken with naan bread for pick-up from time to time. However if this is deemed a faux pas, then I will forego the call from the streetcar and patiently wait in the place to which I would like to eat from.

Nora1968 said...


I too have been known to order (pizza, Swiss Chalet, Thai) from the GO train. I think the issue is more about the loud recitation of the credit card number than the actual ordering of food (I personally always arrange to pay upon pickup!)

C.J. Smith said...



Slightly crispy crust. SLIGHTLY.

NO. JUST A LITTLE CHEESE. Like just grab a handful and toss it on. Is it shredded?


Ok. So, like, can you count out 100 shreds? That's how much cheese I want.



^ Listening to someone order pizza a few months ago on the train ride home.

True story.

Michael Suddard said...

But Cindy, how big are the cheese shreds? Small? How big is small?

John Pinette blow up time!

C.J. Smith said...

^ RIP :(

Anonymous said...

Oh, the conversations I have overheard...! We used to wind up sitting near a group of four women who appeared to be coworkers -- they would chat endlessly, telling catty stories about their bosses & other coworkers. Then one woman would exit, & they would spend the rest of the trip gossiping about and making fun of her. With friends like those...

Re: pizza orders: I spent an entire train trip home a few years back, listening to a woman on her cellphone. She spent half the trip talking to her son, trying to direct him to the location of the pizza coupons ("no, not that drawer, try the middle one...") -- and then the other half on the phone with the pizzeria. She wanted one pizza with this kind of crust, half with this, this & this kind of topping and half with this, this and this... and the other pizza with another kind of crust and do you have this? Yes, we'll have this, this and this... and so on. And then when she asked about the coupons, apparently they weren't accepting them, so she said, "Oh, never mind then," and hung up!!!

Jack C. said...

On the subject of privacy breaches, there's a guy I see (and usually sit near) on the rare occasion I make it to the 16:07 train (I usually get the 16:25 or 16:53). He's in his late 50s or early 60s.

Every time I see him, he slips on his reading glasses and pulls a thick file out of his brief case. The file folder identifies it as belonging to a well-known brokerage/investment outfit. He shuffles the papers around, looking for the one he wants, then folds back the title page and reviews the file. He does this in such a way that he always encroaches on the space of the person sitting beside him, so I'm careful not to be in that seat.

The part that gets me is that the pages have large print, and clearly identify by name and address the owners of the investment portfolios he's examining.

I'm not nosey by nature, but since he does this so frequently, I challenged myself to see if I could make anything out in my peripheral vision. Yup. I can make out names, dollar amounts, mutual fund providers, and so on.

The best part is that he typically nods off somewhere in Scarborough, so the open file slips to the end of his lap or tumbles onto the floor, and he has to gather them together hastily when he's startled to consciousness at his Pickering stop. One time he left one of the files in the aisle, and someone had to call after him to return it.

All I can think is that clients likely have no idea he's reviewing their portfolios in such a careless mannner on the Go Train. I suspect his firm wouldn't be too pleased. I also find myself wondering, who the hell carries around PRINTED copies of all their clients' portfolios in 2015? Surely there's a more efficient (and paperless) way of reviewing files that doesn't involve stuffing them all carelessly into a file folder.

Unknown said...

There are plenty of industries still reliant on physical record-keeping, handwritten signatures and fax machines (shudder). Real estate, law and finance are the first three that pop into my head.

(n.b.: having worked one of the big four, I'm really impressed with the pace of paperless adoption; but if your client needs a fax, you've gotta have a fax.)