Monday, 3 December 2018

Mrs. Green, in the Kitchen, With the Mugs Part 5 (Our Finale)

We seem to do outrage and anger really well these days. Everything offends us. We are sent reeling by bad speech or slips of the tongue. We can't believe that our family members or neighbours support this party or that one and we find ourselves reevaluating so many of our relationships based on unshared ideology.

I get it.

There is much to be angry about right now and outrage fuels our desire to change things for what we hope will be a collective betterment.

But outrage and anger are also completely exhausting. I have, quite honestly, lost count of all of the things about which I am supposed to be angry. Another story of sexual assault and child abuse? Outrage. Another attack on our crippled environment? Anger. The diminishing of personhood for people of colour, women, or LGBTQ? Rage. Anti-Semitism or Islamaphobia? Fury. Income inequality? Temper.

I'm just tired and I'm certain that there are those in positions of power who are counting on my lethargy and pounded-into-the ground ambivalence to further advance their heinous agendas, which is why I am actively trying to reserve my "Rage against the dying of the light" for those causes and macro-movements which need my full-powered energy. A procrastinating contractor, a ruptured piece of artwork, or a few broken mugs, while truly irritating, are not really worthy of my sustained outrage.

Yes. It is true that I was pissed off when I saw the broken mugs, especially given the level of packing material that was obviously used. I still cannot figure out how three mugs, that weren't even grouped together in the box, wound up as mosaic pieces. That said, just as I was ready to head over to a UPS outlet with my return slips in hand, I received an email from Mrs. Sweetpea? Green.

This is an exact transcript of her missive. (I have even left in her ridiculous spelling of the word "colour".)

Hi Dawn,

I am so sorry to hear about your troubles.  Do you happen to know which colors are broken?  Would you like me to send you replacements? Let me know pls!

Mrs. Green

I find it kind of hilarious that Mrs. Pre-teen? Green can't find a way to spell out the entirety of the word "please" and is more than happy to address me by my given name but still has not seen fit to allow me the same courtesy. That said, I was thrilled to receive her email and immediately forwarded the colours that were in shards back to her. Of course, I initially made an error as to the correct colours, a truly Dawn mistake, but I fixed it immediately. I also asked her if she wanted me to send photos to confirm my grievance about the damage. She quickly replied that it wasn't necessary and that she would ship out replacements immediately. An hour later, I received yet another confirmation email with a shipping number to follow. This phenomenal customer service all occurred within an hour of me accepting shipment of the first set of mugs. Wow.

I told The Husband that I would hang onto Amazon's return shipping label and original packaging in the likely event that I would still have to send the mugs back. The wonderful thing about their return policy is that I had a full two months leeway, so even if the second set of mugs came damaged I wasn't up against a crazy deadline. Have I mentioned that my affection for Jeff Bezos is starting to veer into Tiger Beat pin-up obsession territory?

And so...we waited. A weekend's worth of waiting. And then today...magic. 

I received a box that was totally intact.

 It was filled to the brim with non-biodegradable packing peanuts and bubble wrap.

And inside each individual packet of bubble wrap was a perfectly intact and pristine new the desired colours.

Mrs. Beautiful Forest on a Sunday Morning? Green came through just like she said she would. There was no further cost incurred for the shipping and the broken mugs will be offered to anybody who might like to use them for an art project. 

I know that you have been secretly hoping for a moral to this elongated and ridiculous recounting and here's the thing...there actually is one. We all have tales about how miserably we have been treated by others, especially lately. Customer service really bites the big one in most industries and many workers are either too tired or too underpaid to really give a damn. But I am here to attest that there still are some really decent people in this world who take pride in their work and in the businesses they run. From our "came very highly recommended" contractor who showed up the day after we arrived in order to make right all of the little things in the project that needed attention; to our amazing artist friend who repaired The Husband's error and refused compensation; to a huge multi-national like Amazon that was ready to take back the damaged mugs; to Mrs. Brilliantine? Green who shipped out replacements within an hour of being notified, they all acted responsibly, compassionately, and quickly. There was every reason at every level to rage against a faceless somebody but nobody allowed any of these stories to escalate and everybody wanted to make certain that we were happy and satisfied. Seriously. How often can you lay claim to that?

So my advice, dear readers, is to take a step back and decide if all of that outrage and anger you are feeling these days is well-placed. I would be the first to tell you that feeling angry about the big-ticket issues is so very worth your time and high blood pressure. Fight the good fight and rage like a banshee as if you were the 21st century Dylan Thomas when you see injustice and hate rear their ugly heads but I'm pretty sure that we can't live in an angry, hostile state for the rest of our lives. We need to find some much-needed balance and peace that comes from witnessing decent people behaving decently toward each other. It may be a low bar we have set for ourselves in these tumultuous times but I will take whatever tranquillity that is offered right now.

So, if you will all excuse me now...I am going to make a cup of tea in one of my brand-new mugs and just chill.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Mrs. Green, In the Kitchen, With the Mugs Part 4

As I read back over this tale, I am acutely aware of the fact that this is most definitely a "first-world" experience. I am not in the least bit cavalier about how blessed and fortunate I am and I am certainly not trying to to be glib about anything described here. But this is my life and I am just trying to live it the best way I know how. It's just a bit of fun. That said, as we enter into the days of Chanukah this evening, I would like to suggest that each of us self-examine our lives and share a few our blessings with others. What that looks like is entirely up to you, but let's not forget that we live in a time and place of great inequality. Let's send some of what makes us fortunate into the world at large.

So...the mugs.

I really loved those mugs. I felt such a sisterhood with Oprah over a set of twenty-ounce ceramic mugs. I have never connected with Oprah over anything. After years of watching and later reading her Favourite Things issue and finding it laden with shit like asthma attack-inducing bath salts or oversized purses which I never carry, I finally found something that I really liked...and wanted...and was reasonably priced even without the View Your Deal discount that I lost with my procrastination. So I did what any reasonable person looking to buy herself a gift and who had access to Amazon Prime would do, I ordered the damn mugs for a expedited two-day delivery.

That's when I met Mrs. Green.

Amazon, as most people understand, merely acts as a third party weigh station for a myriad of companies. Think of it as an online general store. They carry a shitload of products and arrange for the deliveries, but they don't create the products. Individual companies are responsible for their wares. Soon after I made the click via Amazon Prime, I was contacted by Mrs. Green.

Mrs. Green is the agent for Yedi Housewares who are the makers of the mugs. Yes, she goes by the ubiquitous handle of Mrs. Green. There is no first name, just Mrs. Green. I have spent the last week trying to discern why somebody in business in 2018 would sign her letters as just Mrs. Green. Not Mrs. ??? Green, just Mrs. Green. Is she a former schoolteacher and needs to keep the Mrs. in her life? Is there still a Mr. Green that she wants to honour? Is her given name something stupid and embarrassing like Jean or Kelly or Stringbean? I found the signature odd. I mean. Who still does that?

Mrs. Lime? Green sent me a thank you note, via Amazon, for my purchase. She seemed mildly verklempt that I had thought enough of her mugs to actually purchase them and she promised me that she would take care of any problems should they arise.

Mrs. Snot? Green obviously had no idea who or what she was dealing with.

I handled Mrs.  Booger? Green's email the way I handled most emails from Amazon, I threw it into my trash file and forgot about it. I had an idea as to the delivery date and after they arrived, Mrs. Chartreuse? Green would be a glorious afterthought.

On Monday, I received a message from our security desk that I had a package. It was like I was at camp again and Mom had sent cookies. I raced downstairs with eager anticipation to this box.

(I have removed the shipping labels for internet consumption.)
Inside that, a perfectly intact box was this perfectly intact box surrounded by bubble wrap.

Inside that, a perfectly intact box was this styrofoam protective covering.

And underneath that...well...

Three out of six came broken. Packed in all of that non-biodegradable packing shit and they came in pieces. I mean...fucking shards!! The broken bits are actually inside of the mugs. They weren't displaced in their cozy individual slots. They were just fucking busted to bits.

Mrs. Avocado? Green...we have a huge problem.

My first thought was just to return them. You have to do some searching on Amazon's site to find their troubleshooting, but it is there and it is really easy. Amazon is happy to take back the item if...their box is intact, which it clearly is, I print off a shipping label, and return the package to a UPS outlet at Mailboxes Etc. by February 1/19. I would receive a full refund NO RETURN SHIPPING COST INCURRED! Have I mentioned how much I love Jeff Bezos? This is how customer service is done in 2018. 

I made my complaint via Amazon's grievance system, printed off the shipping label, and just for good measure, I attempted to send Mrs. Puke? Green a return email of her obsequious thank you note. What happened next....well...

The hopeful conclusion to this ridiculous but really mundane story tomorrow.

Same Dawn time. Same Dawn URL.

Chag Urim Sameach to all who observe. Please find a way to make somebody's life a bit easier this holiday season through either your time or your donations. We are all so very blessed.

Friday, 30 November 2018

Mrs. Green, In the Kitchen, With the Mugs Part 3

In this time of massive political unrest and tensions that seem to transcend the borders of even the most loyal and venerable of friends, we all are searching for crumbs of sanity and reminders of what works in this world as opposed to all of those things that we now know to be broken. At this season in which we celebrate light and rededication, I believe that I have stumbled across the one thing that gives us a renewed hope, the only functioning entity in a ruptured universe. Where there once was darkness, we now can see the illuminated path forward because of and solely through the efforts of.....

Amazon Prime.

Never before has a corporate behemoth meant so much to so many who really require absolutely NOTHING of what they have to offer. And yet...we continue to mindlessly, and blindly, browse, click, and order as if our very lives depended on owning reusable shoe bags or a battery-powered squeegee with an attached water vacuum. But...but...but those bags were marked at 50% off and that two-day delivery? Must have shoe bags. Must have them NOW!

Amazon has hit on the most brilliant shopping model since the birth of the mega-mall. Sell the public a shitload of dross that they most obviously don't need, sell it cheaply, deliver it quickly, without the fuss or crowds of a traditional shopping experience, and most importantly, offer impeccable customer service when something goes wrong. It is nirvana for introverts and it is a mecca for shopping-haters. I would french-kiss Jeff Bezos right now if I didn't think I would get arrested for sexual assault. (And just for that added, extra zing...the man owns The Washington Post. I think I'm in love.) 

Amazon Prime is an amazing innovation. With the touch of a button, you can order almost anything your addled brain can possibly conjure up and have it delivered right to your front door in two days or less. Groceries? Not a problem. He owns Whole Foods. Baby equipment? Jeff had me covered. Make-up? It arrived in a day. We can discuss the evils of conspicuous consumption or the insidiousness of data-mining, but for the day to day living necessities, Amazon is my panacea. And American Amazon? Holy shit, I've died and have a suite next to Aretha. American friends, you have no idea how good you've got it until you've tried to order something from Amazon Canada only to discover that they won't deliver it to you. American Amazon is sublime.

This love letter to Amazon is relevant to our story. I promise.

Now that the kitchen was finally clean and mostly put back together, I felt that I deserved a bit of self-care. I wanted to mark the occasion of newness with something small, but useful. I wasn't interested in making a big deal out of it and I didn't even mention my thoughts to The Husband but I felt that we were deserving of a small gift. Nothing fancy. Just something that gave the new kitchen a new start.

I was flipping through channels on our first morning of downtime since we arrived at The Southern Home when I came across The View. I will admit that there was a time in my history when I watched The View with some regularity. I liked the debate of differing ideas amongst women of differing ages but that moment in time has long passed. I never liked Elisabeth Hasselbeck as the token conservative but she was a genius compared to Meghan McCain. I haven't watched since what's his name became the resident of the Oval. But that day, something on The View caught my eye. They were doing a segment called View Your Deal and were offering pre-Thanksgiving bargains for various items. It gets worse. Apparently, The View is now partnering with....Oprah...for this deal segment and all of the stuff they were hawking was from Oprah's Annual Favourite Things Christmas issue.

Hoo Boy. I was in BIIIIG trouble.

This is the item that caught my eye.
A set of six jumbo 20-ounce mugs from Yedi Houseware.  Here's another shot of my new heart's desire.

I wish I could say that I was quick enough to order them that day but as is usually the case when I think about an impulse purchase, I hesitated. I missed the View Your Deal special that expired after twenty-four hours. And then came the remorse. And then came the anger. And then came the self-examination. And then came the realization that I could still order the damn mugs if I really wanted them. And a Diet Coke in the desert...along came Amazon Prime.

So now you know about the kitchen and you also know about the mugs. Mrs. Green? She will be revealed in our next episode. But tell me...aren't those mugs just really fucking amazing. Oprah may be a lot of things but the woman has great taste.

Tomorrow. Same Dawn time. Same Dawn URL.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Mrs Green, In the Kitchen, With the Mugs Part 2

A few devoted readers, who, it seems, have nothing better to do with their lives but lovingly devote their time to reading this vanity-induced space of complete garbage, have asked over the years when my book is coming out. The answer is always the same. I am simply incapable of writing anything longer than it would take these wonderful friends to read in the time that it takes waiting for their Wifi connection to run out on the subway platform. If I could come up with an idea for anything more substantive than what is produced here, I would have started it years ago. Instead, I keep subjecting all of us to this useless drivel. I am profoundly impressed and honoured that anybody is still reading this crap and I do promise that if I can find some profound meaning or independent, creative, and original thought that might be better than this bullshit, I will put cursor to screen and brain-fart it out. Until then, you are all stuck with this codswallop. (That paragraph was an exercise in synonyms. How many words can Dawn find that mean bullshit without her using a thesaurus. I impressed myself.)

When last we left our heroes, they were marvelling over the beauty of their newly renovated kitchen at the Southern Home. The "comes very highly recommended" contractor had come to finish off the last of his tasks and to clear out the mounds of garbage that his workers had accumulated over six months of less than linear work. To call the place a fucking mess is being very kind to fucking messes. There were empty boxes filled with construction waste strewn everywhere; piles of sawdust on the balcony from where the workers cut and shaped cabinetry; empty water bottles all over the counters; a white chalky shmutz lined the bathroom sink from where they mixed the grout; and there was dust so thick on every surface in the apartment that you could actually see track marks from where the summer insects had held their Olympics. These guys are very good at their jobs but neat and tidy they are not. The task of cleaning was set before us. Our jobs, should we choose to accept them, were to scrub, polish, and shine this place to a level that could pass Dawn's inspection. It was a herculean task but manageable.

Add to that, there was the task of rehanging and repositioning all of the artwork that had been stored. Keep reading. That comes later in this post.

The Husband took on the balconies and the windows. He is so very good at this. I would hire him out to make some extra cash off of his talents if I could figure out how to do it without it coming off like indentured servitude. After five scrubbings of the balconies and two more of the windows, we can finally view the vistas without thinking that smog has permanently descended on South Florida. His back and his knees weren't getting him anywhere quickly but there is a satisfaction that comes from a job well-done that transcends even the most gruesome pain. You buying this crap? He complained for days. It's a guy thing. I tackled the bathrooms, the floors, the kitchen cabinets and countertops. I dusted and washed and wiped and mopped for four days. Four days! I kept wondering how long I would have had to clean if we had decided to gut the bathrooms too.

We moved the kitchenware back into cupboards, measured drawers for inserts that still needed to be purchased, and searched in vain for the spice bottles that I know I stored somewhere but were now playing hide and seek. We tested the oven and microwave and stared longingly at an empty refrigerator in the hopes that it would provide sustenance. We braved Publix to restock the pantry and to repurchase the spices that I'm convinced had jumped into the Intracoastal Waterway to escape the noise and dust. We made a trip to Whole Foods, another to Walmart, a third to CVS and we still weren't even close to replenishing our reserves. The tasks seemed daunting but by working together like the synchronized machine we have become after thirty-three years of marriage, we whipped the place back into shape.

We bought the drawer inserts and a spice rack and new spices to fill it. And just when they were all properly settled and alphabetized, the old spices miraculously jumped out of their hiding places, yelled "Surprise", and expected a warm reception and some space in their new digs. Of course, they did. Anybody need some turmeric? How about cumin? I have a shitload of cumin.

And then The Husband set about the final task of rehanging the artwork. Most of it was fairly straightforward. We had left the hooks in the walls for the paintings but the three-dimensional climbers were tricky. They required a deft hand and a light touch. Have you met The Husband?

And....he dropped and broke one. 

Before the fall

After the fall

You know that sunken seasick feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when your partner yells "Shit" from another room? I swear I wanted to hide in the bedroom until Chanukah.

No judgement. No anger. Just a pragmatic response to determining what the FUCK do we do now. Well, we bought the suckers from a South Florida artist so let's see if he has a remedy. He answered our panicked email within minutes. Really? Who does that? Send the afflicted climber back to him via FedEx with a prepaid return label and he would repair it. He didn't ask for money. Really? WHO DOES THAT? After spending three days trying to figure out which empty box to pack him in, The Husband did as instructed and shipped our damaged climber off to the nether regions of Miramar for surgery. He arrived that same day and within thirty-six hours was back in FedEx's hands for his return trip. Really?? WHO DOES THAT?? He is expected to be back on the wall later today. (I'll post a photo as an update.)

I know. I know. I still haven't explained the title of these posts. I promise you all that I am getting to it but really, what's a shaggy dog story without the matted and tangled shaggy hair.

Tune in tomorrow. Same Dawn time, same Dawn URL.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Mrs. Green, In the Kitchen, With the Mugs Part 1

I have an old friend who posts long rambling stories on Facebook about his trials and tribulations. They are usually extended over several days, always hilarious, and usually end with a conclusion so ridiculously mundane you question your investment in the time spent reading them but know that you will be right there along for the ride the next time because...well...this is really the best that Facebook has to offer, our connections with old friends.

I have a blog for such ridiculousness, so I hope that you all might indulge me in the same manner that I do my friend. This story will be told in several parts and therefore several posts.

It all started with our kitchen renovation at the Southern Home. It always seems to begin with a kitchen renovation. This entire blog began as a kitchen renovation. We had been putting off this much-needed makeover for at least five years. There are always better ways to spend one's money than on an expensive remodelling in a place we use as our home away from home. That isn't to say that we don't use our kitchen here. We do. A great deal. But every time we got close to agreeing that we should proceed with the project, something far more important and, honestly, more desirous diverted our attention and funds. This year, we were backed into a corner by our thirty-five-year-old appliances. The refrigerator was singing like Louis Armstrong on meth and the dishwasher was leaking so badly that a grotesquely mouldy towel, inserted between it and the sink, had become a permanent fixture. The appliances were giving us fair warning of their impending demises. It was time to heed the death rattles and jump headlong into the hell that is home renovation.

As home makeovers go, this was actually the least painful of any we have done throughout our many years together. We decided early on that the best way to handle the mess and disruption was to simply pretend it wasn't happening. In other words, we went home in March and left the work to a "came very highly recommended"contractor. We had every intention of flying down in the summer to check on the progress, but life got busy and that trip never happened. Our "came very highly recommended" contractor figured out our game fairly early on in the process and knew that there was no real rush to finish the job until sometime in the fall. Out of sight, out of mind is definitely a two-way street.

As an aside...if you find yourselves in need of a home renovation, moving out and forgetting it exists is the best way to go. Anybody who has ever lived through one can attest to it being a hellscape. Find someone you trust to manage the project and then get the fuck out. It could save your marriage and your relationship with sanity.

After the High Holy Days in September, we mentioned to our "came very highly recommended" contractor that we were planning on being down at The Southern Home sometime before American Thanksgiving. His response reminded me of an old joke from the comedy album You Don't Have to be Jewish.

A guy walks into a shoemaker and says:

Guy: You're not going to believe this but I was going through my closet and came across a very old coat. While going through the pockets of that coat I found a ticket for a pair of shoes I dropped off more than 10 years ago. I know it is a longshot, but I thought that since I was in the area, I might check and see if you still have the shoes.

Shoemaker: (in very old-world Jewish accent) What are you? Crazy?? You think that I might still have a pair of shoes still here that you dropped off more than 10 years ago? Meshuggah!

Guy: I realize it's a bit farfetched but could you please check?

Shoemaker retreats into the back of the shop. 

Shoemaker: Hey, Mister. These shoes, were they black patent leather?

Guy: Yes.

Shoemaker: And did they have silver heels?

Guy: (Very excited) Yes, Yes!!!

Shoemaker: And did they have gold-braided tassels?

Guy: Yes, Yes, Yes! You found them!


Our "came very highly recommended" contractor told us that not to worry and that they would be finishing up the job shortly after we arrived.

In total fairness to him, there were only a few things to touch up when we arrived (including a non-functioning oven) but he did show up within a day of our letting him know that we were back in town to make all of the necessary improvements. He is a great guy and I would absolutely stamp him with my "comes highly recommended" seal of approval. A true mensch. That isn't always easy to come by in his profession.

The story is just getting interesting and I haven't even explained the title of this post.

If you would like to know what comes next, tune in tomorrow. 

Same Dawn time, same Dawn URL.

Kitchen before
Kitchen after

Monday, 26 November 2018

Care Enough

In a really easy distractive effort to avoid any kind of brick and mortar shopping, I spent part of this Thanksgiving weekend here at the Southern Home watching several of those cheesy and incredibly formulaic Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel.

The Husband hates these time-wasters with a passion so red-hot that it burns through the chair he is sitting in. I, on the other hand, find the mental tapioca they provide so extremely soothing and calming. There is something serene about knowing the plot stylings so well in advance of viewing that I can almost predict down to the minute when the protagonist will realize all that has gone wrong in her life and take up with the standardized hunk of the day in order to give her life purpose and completion. The fake snow and tinsel merely add to the appeal.

But if truth be told, I find myself drawn to these films and the Hallmark Channel specifically because of the commercials that Hallmark runs at this time of year. They aren't merely thirty-second spots to hawk greeting cards, rather they are several minute stories or essays about deep and personal connections. There is the one about the former high school basketball player, now fully grown with a family of her own, who shows up to say goodbye to a beloved coach on the occasion of his retirement; or the one with the two sisters trying to downsize their childhood home to prepare their aging parents for a move; or my personal favourite about the new neighbours who try all year to connect with the curmudgeon next door, only to discover the source of his pain when he finally lets them in at Christmas.

Hallmark has discovered a formula for their advertising that is intensely personal and accomplishes what a great commercial should do. These spots force you to remember the company and, more importantly, why you should purchase from them.

In watching my Christmas movies on Sunday, I noticed something new from Hallmark this year. They have altered their tagline. For years, Hallmark's slogan was "When you care enough to send the very best." They have now shortened it to simply read "Care enough".

It's amazing how much power I find contained in this simple message. A large company is imploring us to just care. They aren't interested in your politics or your religious affiliation. They don't care how busy you are or where you live. They are sending out this simple moral lesson to old and young, rich or poor, people of all races, creeds, and colours. Care enough.

Maybe, for just a bit, we can stop what we are doing and follow through on this mantra.

Care enough.

Consider it when you are in a hurry and thinking it might be a great idea to run that red light or make that illegal turn or lane change.

Care enough.

Ponder it when you interrupt the busy salesperson who is already serving a customer.

Care enough.

Think twice before responding angrily to the online troll who is trying to bait you.

Care enough.

Remember it when passing by the person out in the cold who could use a meal and a pair of mittens.

Care enough.

Believe in it when you see your neighbour struggling to clear his walk or carry in her garbage can or groceries.

Care enough.

Surmise it when you become short of temper with the new girl at your favourite coffee place.

Care enough.

To visit someone who can't visit you.

Care enough.

To connect. Face to face. Voice to voice. In person.

Care enough.

To listen.

Our world is filled with problems. I can't pretend to have the answers to any of them but I do believe that if we followed Hallmark's lead and cared enough with small acts of kindness we could make a pretty good start.

I'm buying Hallmark cards this year for my holiday giving. They have earned my patronage.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Drive Carefully. You Might Be Saving My Life.

I nearly became a statistic on Toronto roads today.

It isn't the first time that I've almost been eviscerated by a car while following all of the rules as a pedestrian and I'm certain that it won't be the last, but I am so tired of feeling like walking chum to the swirling sharks of combustion engines, I thought that maybe if I vented my spleen, it might help those of you who drive on a daily basis better understand those of us who walk or cycle.

It was a miserable day in the city today. The weather was just brutal and depending on where you were, you were subjected to either torrential rains, a mixture of wet flurries, or full on white stuff falling from the sky in an ugly prelude to winter. I loathe this kind of weather but I was happily babysitting today and as such, needed to use public transit in order to make my way north. The final part of the journey involves a one-kilometre walk from the subway station to Younger Son's and His B'shert's home. I noted on my walk, in the miserable rain, that there was construction happening directly in front of Fairview Mall on Sheppard Avenue going westbound. There was a police officer stationed in front of the mall trying to divert traffic around the mess but cars were backed up all the way east to Victoria Park. The detour added a few minutes to my walk that felt like hours because of the weather. I hoped that perhaps the increased traffic would be gone before I made my return trip.

I was so very wrong.

As I left this afternoon, the cars were piled up three lanes deep and barely moving. The weather had gotten even worse throughout the day, adding whipping winds to the mixture from hell. I knew that I had to cross Sheppard in order to complete the construction-induced detour, so at the off-ramp from the DVP, I pressed the button to make the crossing.

Here's where things got dicey.

Drivers were in no mood to play nice. Cars exiting the Don Valley were immediately funneled into the line of three lanes being squeezed into two. Cars heading west on Sheppard had already endured many more minutes than they should have in a jam and were piling into the intersection with no cares about blocking both the DVP cars and those trying to make left-hand turns from the adjacent street. When the light turned green for me to cross, it was like playing real-life Frogger. As I started to move, two drivers decided to block me out, one tapping me on the leg with his bumper and another angrily flipping me the bird as I tried desperately to make it to the south side of the street. Technically, I got hit by a car today. Yes, I am fine and no I have no injuries other than a damaged psyche.

I want it understood that I crossed at a properly marked crosswalk, on a green/walk signal, and the countdown on the signal hadn't yet begun. I wasn't on my phone, I didn't have earphones in, I could see everything in all directions, and I wasn't even carrying an umbrella that could have impeded my vision.


This incident was the fault of drivers who were aggravated, anxious, probably late, and miserable because of the weather.

And therein lies my lesson.

I hear from drivers all the time about stupid pedestrians and selfish bikers. Some of the time, those descriptions are true. But the fact still remains that the person operating the two-tonne vehicle is usually the problem and almost always at fault. There is a selfish mentality of righteous ownership that comes over drivers about the roads. We who drive, often forget that we must share the public space with those who don't have the same kind of power. Cars are big and dynamic and in the wrong hands, they can be weapons. Thirty-four pedestrians and five cyclists have been killed on Toronto roads already this year. It is the highest total since 2007. We are all getting impatient and forgetting that the person who walks is totally exposed to every danger that the driver is but without the security of airbags and rollbars.

I am exhausted from my myriad of near-misses. I have almost been hit by drivers who speed through already red lights, stop signs, jump ahead for right turns on reds and directly into pedestrian traffic. I have had close calls with drivers blowing past open streetcar doors as I've exited and with drivers making illegal u-turns into oncoming traffic. This is the short list.

Here's my Shabbat wish. Take care on the roads this weekend. If you are a driver, watch out for the bikes and pedestrians. If you are a cyclist or walker, follow the rules set out for you. We all count no matter how we traverse this city.