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Top Five Things Not To Eat On Public Transit.

"People don't change." This is one of the things my mother used to insist on when I was growing up. She had a lot of hard opinions, this being one of the milder. She liked the "milk for free" one, and "children shouldn't have choices" is another one that stands out. In high school, when my brother and I changed into vegetarians, she changed from being a mother who cooked for her kids, to one who filled the freezer with Lean Cuisine vegetarian lasagnas. And so, we changed into microwaving masterminds. I've questioned her accuracy. I think people do change.

When I made this list, I was spending a lot of time commuting to Vancouver for work. I'd drive around emptying roadside containers full of hundreds of pounds of advertising mail that more than likely ended up in the garbage (or as we politely call it these days, recycling). My position was a six-hour shift, which most days I could complete in four if I hustled. I spent the rest of the time, driving around or doing errands.

The sheer volume of advertising that passed through my hands on a daily basis was soul crushing. The number of trucks driving around the city, doing what I was doing, collecting the same amount of recycling I was collecting was unimaginable. I've always been an armchair system questioner, but in this work I couldn't detach myself from the nonsense. I had to touch it, and look at it, deliver it and participate in it's broadcasting every day.

But I made money. I made actual money to buy things, take trips and save for the future. I had health care benefits. Now I have Google and that one greasy pharmacist at London Drugs who thinks I'm into him because we talked about the vaginal environment.

Back then, I worked and made a commute that lasted more hours than my work shift. I drove like a maniac, sprinted for buses and ran for the Sky train only to reach the Horseshoe Bay Ferry terminal to find the power suddenly cut to my central nervous system's transportation themed rave. The ferry cut off missed by one minute, or the ferry late by over an hour. I don't know the word for that emotion, but I bet there's a lot of people hanging out in Horseshoe Bay on any given week night with suggestions.

My time on the Coast was disjointed. My good time was tainted by the heaviness of planning to be away, in transit. My home life, for reasons inexplicable to me at the time, made me sad. Nothing made sense. I felt like a cog in a very broken machine.

Many things have changed. I'm much less angry than I used to be, in some ways. I'm angrier in others, but have learned a bit of marketing and have rebranded myself as feisty, hormonal or COMPLICATED. I am still a cog, in what globally speaking, seems an even more broken machine. I've worked rather hard to create my own broken machine so I don't have to travel to start spinning. Still not much makes sense.

I'll still go hungry rather than eat on the bus. Although I see the foolishness in it now, I just can't. But we all have our hang-ups. I can admit I'm a bit of an arse, but I promise, I am truly less invested in what YOU eat on the bus.

As my mind has changed so much, having had the pleasure of meeting and moving with many new cogs, who've have taught me so much, I've added supplements to my list. It needed tempering as the old me "sounded" too angry for my current situation. And perhaps, I've changed.

I'm still an over-analytical, neurotic, weirdly-obsessive germophobe with food issues (who has odd angry outbursts over the most irrelevant things). But I am aware of it now. And that makes all the difference.

1. A Banana.

It doesn't matter if you're a woman or a man you know what I'm thinking. And even if you break it off into pieces and eat it that way you know I'm thinking you're a repressed prude who hates sex.

2019 Supplement: I feel to add "not that there's anything wrong with that", because so much has happened in the last few years. Our views on gender have expanded, sexuality is evolving and we've started peeling away the layers of patriarchy. So I feel more comfortable telling you that there is usually at least one day a month, that if I so much as catch a glimpse of a banana coming my way, I transform into the Incredibly Hormonal Hulk promising to mash that demon into an unrecognizable pulp. There's a lot to unpack there, and we've not a lot of time so I'll just say again, 'I've got issues'. But they are not as trying for me, as for those who try to love me.

Anyway, my current feeling is that a banana should be removed from this list, as it is in its own wrapper so it's eco- friendly, and tidy. And it's fairly silent. Unless you are pressed so uncomfortably close to other passengers enough to hear banana mouth noises, in which case you shouldn't be eating anything, just holding your breath.

2. McDonalds.

Public transit is for the masses. McDonalds is also for the masses. If you do both of these things together you are doubling down on being the lowest common denominator. Basically you become untouchable.

2019 Supplement: Still true, but I have found real respect for anyone who really doesn't care what a stranger on the bus thinks of them, while they eat their dinner out of a paper bag, wiping special sauce on their socks in lieu of a napkin. Hey, eat like no one is watching, even though we all are, as we're trapped in a metal tube with you.

These days I've not only loosened the reigns on what I eat, but I've become shockingly lazy. Fast food plays a much bigger part in my life than I care to admit. It's really not so bad. While I have yet to eat fast food on public transit, I have had to eat and drive the car. So time economy needs to be taken under consideration, I suppose. I think it's ok to be untouchable, if you are achieving your goals in a timely fashion.

Finally, I'm now in my mid forties now, so I have unwittingly become both untouchable & invisible to society. Which, while unfair, is also not so bad. I can go to the grocery store looking like the girl from The Ring and practically not even register on the security cameras. I'm tossing around shoplifting as a new hobby. Why not put this societal imposed cloak of invisibility to further my financial gains? Not much else seems to have worked.

3. Shawarma

If you must submit to the undeniable magic of the street meat, eat it on the street. You're going to have juices running all over your hands making the bus stickier than it needs to be. Plus, it's 1am, you're more than likely drunk and are going to barf, so be nice and eat that thing in front of the dodgy little stall where you bought it.

2019 Supplement: I'm honestly baffled no one has opened a Shawarma place on the Coast yet. Coast Kebab? Sunshine Shawarma? Gibsons Gyros? I know it's all confusing nomenclature for what is essentially a questionable meat wrap, but this is long overdue.

Realization: Most people are usually less drunk than I used to think everyone always was. That was just me.

4. Doritos

If you are eating Doritos, you already smell like you barfed, the corners of your mouth are orange and you're leaving a cheesy film on everything you touch. You're a poisonous, radioactive slug and you have no friends until you wash yourself clean.

I stand by this judgment, in shameful solidarity with anyone else that has ever eaten, or still eats Doritos. It is 100% factual. Not bus food, but very well suited to an afternoon mega session of Dragon Warrior on your vintage Nintendo (each level celebrated with an obligatory round of wanking). But if you must, in name of common decency I suggest heading over to Old Dutch Sour Cream and Onion. They're still filmy with flavour, but less orange to stain the going-out clothes of your fellow passengers.

5. Ice Cream

Enjoy your mucous producing snack anywhere else but here. It's gross and you're eating something wet in one of the most bacteria infested places possible. You might as well be licking the pole. And if you're a couple, don't think it's cute. It's so much worse.

I'm just hateful when it comes to ice cream. There's nothing about watching (or listening to) people lick ice cream that makes me happy. I feel I was emotionally scarred by my grandmother, who used to eat raw onions for dinner, and a bowl of vanilla ice cream for dessert. Upon finishing the ice cream, she'd fill the bowl with water, and drink it. So many unanswered questions. Maybe I am broken, but for this, I won't apologize.


rough copy

©2018 by Amber Stoby