Friday, October 10, 2008

TTC Delays

This morning I routinely got on the subway at Kipling station, westbound towards the University of Toronto. I found a seat and made myself comfortable. I turned up my MP3 player to tune out the world and veg for a while. But destiny didn't allow me to sit like that for long. At Islington station, an announcement was made for all passengers to exit the train and the station, and shuttle buses were to be provided to various locations.

Delays on the subway aren't uncommon. So I exited the train and saw a woman crying uncontrollably, being comforted by a random passerby. It was a strange and unnerving sight. I heard the sirens of police cars and fire trucks in the distance, and was ambling amongst the hundreds of passengers who seemed confused and unsure of what was happening.

As it turns out, someone had jumped onto the tracks on the subway, and was hit by the train as it pulled into the station. Some passengers had witnessed the event.

I was sitting on the shuttle bus on the way to the next station, and thinking how commonplace it seemed, that someone had committed suicide on the subway today. It's obvious that it's a regular occurrence on the TTC since within 5 minutes, they had staff to drive shuttle buses set up for people who wished to travel to other stations, and more employees to direct people in an orderly manner. It was a routine day for them.

But I thought about that person who had deemed life to be so unbearable, that he or she decided it was not worth living anymore. I wondered about what drove that person to the brink, to the edge of the platform in what was such a violent end. I would think that circumstances must have been difficult indeed.

And it surprised me, too, that many of the other passengers were pushing and swearing, and generally in terribly foul moods because they were "inconvenienced" by someone's death.

And while people were put out at the fact that they had to wait that extra 20 minutes to get to their destinations, I wondered about the concept of suicide and how accepted it is in our culture. How does a culture unwittingly accept and internalize the taking of one's own life? Think about it, when was the last time you offhandedly said something like "I feel like killing myself!"? If you're anything like me, that type of phrase isn't uncommon in your daily conversations.

Suicide is not a topic we like to hear about, nor is it one that is often addressed by politicians or the media. It's a taboo subject that is swept under the rug, that is simply called a "delay" on the subway line. Is that how a life's worth is measured at the end of the day?

I think suicide is incredibly perverse in the sense that someone is able to get to a point of such blatant desperation that it feels there is no alternative than ending life. But what's even more perverse is the uncaring, nonchalant, and annoyed reactions of the rest of us towards it.

We don't need police officers and massive fire trucks to be on hand in case of an emergency. We don't need to further develop strategies to clean up the "messes" that people cause and to insure normal, uninterrupted service. What we need is to recognize the underlying reasons why people take their lives, address those reasons, and work hard on developing preventative measures.

Otherwise, we can easily spend the rest of our lives putting out fires that could've been prevented simply by taking away the matches.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

jazakillahu khairan asmaa. may Allah SWT bless your heart. i feel relieved that you see this in life. please continue to share your insights.