Bill Carroll put me on the Wall of Shame this morning.
Actually, it was all Torontonians and not me specifically, but I still felt the cold finger of blame pointed squarely at my face.
If you don’t know, Bill Carroll is the prime time personality for local radio station CFRB (AM 1010). His soothing repartee is my morning wake-up, usually taken with a caffeinated beverage, and followed by 680 News and a sunny toilet bowl.
The “Wall of Shame” segment, usually on just after 8 a.m., is a way for Bill to vent his rage and frustration in a generally non-violent way. Usually it’s the denizens of city hall or some child-abusers (I don’t think Bill sees a difference), who receive the honour of the simulated hammer-and-nail routine, but this morning Bill decided that Toronto — and everyone in it — was worthy of being shamed.
What got Bill so mad? The “minority” bicycling population of Toronto is trying to impress their anti-car agenda on the city and we’re all just lying back and taking it. This stemmed from news that the group is trying to revive the proposal for a bike-only lane to be added to a section of Bloor Street West. Bill took this to be a personal afront: he drives, these people are obviously anti-car, hence they’re against him.
Usually Bill fake-hammers the virtual nail with measured disdain, but today he was pounding and yelling into the microphone like a man on a mission.
Why aren’t all car drivers furious with this “minority” agenda, he asked? Why is city hall filled with car haters? Why the hell isn’t the population of Toronto up in arms?! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ALL YOU PEOPLE?! (or something similar)
Bill phoned the deranged organizer of this three-ring circus to ask him what the big idea was. The guy on the other end replied that the city would be much better off if everyone rode a bike: environment, health, etc. Bill disagreed vociferously. The plan would be unworkable for the “vast majority” of people. It’s unconscionable how the bike-riding “minority” is trying to hijack city hall for it’s own nefarious purposes. How many people would use this extra lane anyway? Numbers! How many people, really?! TELL ME HOW MANY OF YOU SONS OF BITCHES THERE ARE!
The interviewee couldn’t come up with any stats.
How typical! Bill was sure it wasn’t a lot of people, not like drivers; there’s a lot of those, definitely a “vast majority”.
As Bill launched into another tirade, this was pretty much the end of the dialogue. Perhaps the interviewee left the conversation, maybe Bill hung up on him. The voice on the other end of the line simply stopped attempting to speak in between the Carroll deluge.
Now with only himself to convince, Bill kept absentmindedly knocking the imaginary nail while slowly descending into something resembling normalcy, all the while trying to re-frame the topic so that even the thickest of us would understand how awful it really was.
The phone lines were opened up.
The first caller agreed with Bill’s assertions and managed to earn himself a second sentence. “Why not lead a protest group like the Tamils?” he asked. “I can’t get involved,” replied Bill. “If you’re famous and lead a protest, they’re all over you. Somebody else needs to do this. Are you listening, Toronto? I’m so sick and tired of…”, and so on.
And then came the traffic report.