Thursday, February 14, 2008


Two stops into my commute home today, a man hops on, belting out some song I'd never heard before. It sounded like some folk song. I was slightly annoyed because I was trying to listen to a Podcast, and his singing was interfering with my listening

I had my back to him because the subway was really crowded for 5pm - it standing room only, as everyone had the brilliant idea of skipping work early. As I looked around the subway car, I could see fellow commuters rolling their eyes at this guy. From the sound of his voice, I thought he was some old drunk crazy bum. I don't think it was unreasonable for me to assume that, since you get that sort of thing all the time on Toronto's subways. Besides, his singing just kept GOING AND GOING.

Normally, someone like that would've annoyed the snot out of me. Plus, given the fact that he was literally right behind me, under ordinary circumstances, I would've been pretty freaked out. There was something different about this guy, however. Unable to listen to my Podcast, I just listened to him sing. He sang with such gusto. He sang "This Land Is Your Land" with a Toronto theme. He tried engaging the entire subway car in song. Part of me wishes that we'd all burst into song, but Torontonians just aren't like that.

The more I listened, the more I liked him. He had a very glass half-full attitude. He went on about how you have two choices when you get up - to be miserable, or to thank the "Good Lord" (as he put it) for putting you on this planet, and to embrace life. He clearly chose the latter. One guy was actually brave enough to engage him in conversation, saying, "I'm trying really hard to keep from singing." I think this echoed what most of us felt but were too shy and ashamed to say.

By the time I got off at my stop, I was grinning. In fact, so were most of the people on that subway car. As I left, I turned around to see who this guy was. He was the most ordinary-looking guy ever. He looked like he was in his late 60s or early 70s, thick glasses, and tweed suit. He looked like someone's grandfather. I don't know who this man was, or if I'll ever see him again, but I'll never forget him or this brief subway ride. This is the day that he made a handful of grumpy Torontonians smile just for the heck of it. What a great gift!

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