The Practical Gentleman’s Guide to Urban Insolence, no.4

Posted on May 11th, 2009 No comments. The post is really that bad, huh?

Use of cars in Toronto doesn’t seem to be slowing down any.

That’s something I understand only too well. Riding on the regional GO train not only wasn’t an economically viable alternative (gas+parking+maintenance was cheaper than taking the train), but it was also an extremely frustrating exercise.

When infrequent trains or equipment would break down, GO would offer no alternatives. Despite the fact that they have a fleet of alternate vehicles (buses), they would simply shut down the system and, literally, leave everyone stranded. If the much bigger and less subsidized TTC were to do this, young Adam Giambrone would be out on his ear.

So, let’s see: GO transit sucks for so many reasons + it’s cheaper to drive than it is to take GO = everyone drives

Toronto city hall has managed to entirely miss this equation, but I suppose you can’t blame them if they’ve never had their testicles dyed blue with the chemical flush that splashes around the shallow toilet bowl of a moving train. And only after you’ve put your hand in a pile of stuff do you discover that there’s no water in the tap, all the paper towels have been used to plug up the toilet (oh, Jesus! The blue water’s almost at the rim!), and the last of the toilet paper is stuck to your shoe with a heel-bound sample of self-same stuff. And now the knock on the door: “Ticket inspector! Need to see your ticket!

Driving is just more pleasant.

So I get why people want to drive, and I happen to think a recent proposal to ban right turns on red lights in the city is boneheaded. Besides, I don’t think the inconsiderate and frankly dangerous jerks who pick off people at intersections would care one way or another.

I witnessed an altercation between a motorist and a jogger where the motorist yelled at a woman for, “running in the street.”  The lady retorted with, “Pedestrians have the right of way, and especially on a green light! I can run back and forth all I like if I want to!”

Right on, lady!

Unfortunately, Mr. and Mrs. Jerk, Jerk junior, and little miss Jerkette were already peeling out onto Lakeshore boulevard in their angry little suburban minivan (they had an Oshawa sticker on the back).

That’s the sad truth of it: the troglodyte behind the wheel barely has the opposable thumbs to operate the signals let alone understand our complex human speech. Bright colours and loud noises startle him (or her), and sends him into a fit (I think it’s called “road rage”), so he’s pretty much constantly screaming at everything around him.

I don’t mind calling such people rude names; people’s lives are at stake, and over what? So the driver can rush to the next stoplight ten meters down the road? Won’t you join me in wishing them all a heartfelt “fuck you”, another for the horse they rode in on, and one for each life they’ve put into danger?

They probably won’t hear a word. By the time your middle fingers come to full mast, they’ll be mowing down another crowd of pedestrians further down the road.

What’s a practical gentleman to do?

I’m usually in favour of something embarrassing or pejorative, but it’s clear that in this situation that won’t work. The metal shell that protects the offending party makes most standard gestures futile.

Cycling enthusiasts long ago came up with the brilliant key-down-the-side of the car, but paint jobs are surprisingly difficult to scratch these days. It’s also a procedure that can be noisy, potentially resulting in fisticuffs.

Why risk that when there are other interesting solutions?

All of these require preparation of some sort but this wouldn’t be the “practical” guide if they weren’t easy to prepare.

The first of these is very cost-effective and easy to carry around on the street: eggs. They can be kept intact or broken. I believe that scrambled (raw) would be most effective, but I don’t think you’ll lose the effectiveness either way.

Eggs on a car may seem like an obvious, even juvenile, act, but eggs are well known to either discolour or even completely strip paint off of cars. They don’t do this immediately and if the driver stops and cleans them right away, no harm will be done.  If the driver keeps on like a maniac without slowing down, the eggs will deliver delayed justice without remorse. Can you think of a more poignant and ironic way to say you care?

For an immediate effect, the ladies have an advantage over the gents. A simple splash of nail polish (this is what all those awful colours are for), will provide you with satisfaction and chuckles for quite some time. Removing this colour after it’s dried will mean potentially removing the surrounding paint as well; they bond very well. The situation can be made infinitely more amusing if one were to splay themselves on the hood of the car, blood-red polish splashed on hood and windshield, and perhaps a blood-curdling scream if one can be mustered.

If you’re already adding paint, why not consider removing it again? Some lacquer thinner (even nail polish remover may work), and that electric blue car suddenly seems less cheery. Alas, dear reader, this technique is not one that I am personally acquainted with so I can’t recommend the most effective product. But if you spend any time walking in the city, I’m certain you’ll have ample opportunity to conduct field research of your own.

In closing, I would like to remind you that this is act is important for everyone’s safety, not just your own. I can guarantee that I will avoid any horribly defaced car I see in the future; teach your kids to do the same.

Think of the children!

What's on your mind?