Sunday, December 19, 2010

Home For The Holidays - A Taste of Toronto's Hospitality

Christmas in Toronto

I'll be home for Christmas, you can count on me. Sing it with me! Actually, scratch that. I'm already home! I know, exciting, right? My Coach bus departed from Kingston's bus terminal around 11:00 am this past Thursday, carrying a number of excited students heading home for the holidays. I was so excited, I could hardly contain it.

Except I had a little conundrum. Actually, it was a fantastically terrible dilemma. It's no secret that I'm a chronic overpacker. Case in point. There was nothing more horrifying than packing for my Eurotrip this past summer, where I had to succumb to packing a mere 3 or 4 outfits to accommodate Air Transat's measly luggage weight restriction while leaving (a significant amount) of room for Europe purchases (a topic I've gone into many times, dear readers).

Packing for the holidays was no different. I stood in front of my closet on Wednesday evening, coming to the conclusion that I would be lugging a suitcase, an enormous duffel bag (bigger than my actual suitcase, unfortunately), my laptop bag, and my purse home. That doesn't sound like too much, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, these bags were Huge. Enormous. Astronomically large. And I'd be lugging these monsters from the bus terminal, to Eaton Centre (where I scheduled in lunch with a friend and shopping), on to the subway, to Union Station, up the flight of stairs to the GO train terminal, into the train, and finally, home.

It was quite the trek. You know those people you see on the street, lugging enormous packages? Slipping and panting as they make their way through the crowded streets of Toronto? That was me. You were feeling sorry for me.

I was in quite the bind. And yet... Toronto, oh Toronto, you never failed me. I've never understood people's complaints about Toronto. Accusations about the rudeness of city dwellers, the indifference, avoiding those in need, too engrossed in their own affairs. I've never experienced that. And in my luggage plight, it was no different.

ENCOUNTER 1: As I stood at Bay and Dundas, pausing for breath, lamenting the aches and pains shooting up my arms as I carried my huge Queen's University duffel bag on my shoulder, an older woman paused and asked if I needed help rolling my monstrous suitcase into the mall, down the escalator. Gratefully, I nodded. And together, we wheeled my suitcase into the mall.

ENCOUNTER 2: As I stood in the mall, staring forlornly at the bruises on my arms from the weight of my duffel bag, an elderly gentleman asked if I needed help lugging my suitcase up the flight of escalators. Gratefully, I nodded. And together, we wheeled my suitcase through the mall.

ENCOUNTER 3: As I stood at Dundas Subway Station, fumbling with my change, I got stuck in the turn style. Oh, how embarrassing. That was me. I was the Girl Who Got Stuck In The Turn Style. Face, meet palm. And yet, about 4 or 5 people stopped to push my luggage through the turn style and waited patiently until I was able to break free.

ENCOUNTER 4: And as I fumbled with my change, balancing my duffle bag on my suitcase, my aching fingers slipped, and all the change in my wallet went crashing all over the subway station floor. FACE, MEET PALM. I was so embarrassed. And yet, right in the middle of busy Dundas Station, about 10 people paused to pick up all my money. And as I counted my change later, there wasn't even a dime missing.

More of these acts of courtesy happened all through my trip back to Mississauga. Women and men of all ages stopped to help me carry my luggage up flights of stairs, up escalators, helped me balance my suitcases in the subway, helped me carry my monstrous, weighty packages through the GO train terminal, helped me lug my luggage onto the train. Contrary to what I originally thought, my luggage plight wasn't too much of a dilemma at all. I was so incredibly grateful.

Who says Toronto is a bastion of indifference? A site of city dwellers engrossed in their own affairs, too busy to lend a hand to someone who needs help? From what I've experienced most of my life, it isn't.

I'm home for the holidays, Toronto. And I'm so excited to be back!
Christmas break, here we go!

"The universal joy of Christmas is certainly wonderful. We ring the bells when princes are born, or toll a mournful dirge when great men pass away. Nations have their red-letter days, their carnivals and festivals, but once in the year and only once, the whole world stands still to celebrate the advent of a life."


  1. Maybe it's because it's Christmas time and you're pretty, too!

  2. That is very sweet, Mang! And yes, maybe they were being courteous because of the holidays. But I like to think Torontonians act this way, regardless of the season ;)