TRAUMA ON THE TTC II
I discovered I deal with trauma by staring off into space. How hard it is to focus. What happened on Thanksgiving Monday, October 12, keeps playing in my mind. Several times I have tried to write about it, and the pain becomes too much. I stop writing and stare off into space.
Sometime after 6:30 p.m., on Monday October 12, I used the payphone on the wall opposite the fare-collector’s booth at the Bay Street subway. The collector could see me and the area around me, but he could not see down the hallways to my left and to my right.
After starting my telephone conversation, I saw a man down the hallway to my right. He staggered and kicked a large plastic pop bottle down the hallway towards me. The top was off and pop gushed all over the floor. I stopped my conversation, turned around to the collector, pointed down the hallway and said, “There’s a guy kicking pop all over the floor.” The collector, who was snacking on something, sat in his chair and looked at me.
The pop bottle was empty by the time the man got to me. He was in the area visible to the collector. The man kicked the bottle at me and it hit my leg. I kicked it away and shouted at him words dealing with sex and travel. I turned around facing the collector and shouted, “Hey, please call security! This guy’s bothering me.” The collector did nothing except continue to eat and laugh as if he was enjoying a show.
The man kicked the bottle at me again.
“Hey!” I shouted to the collector. “This isn’t a game! I don’t know this guy. Call security!” (By security I meant the Toronto Transit Commission’s Transit Enforcement Officers.)
The collector continued to snack and laugh.
What terror! I did not know what else the man was going to do to me, and the shock of having my cries for help ignored.
The man swung at me, but I moved and he lost his balance stumbling forward. He reeked of booze. He kept kicking the bottle at me when he regained his balance. He may have tried to punch me several more times. I don’t know. Panic had me in its claws. I kept swearing at the man. I kept shouting at the collector to call security. The man kept kicking the bottle at me, and the collector kept snacking and laughing.
“I’m not security. I’m not your bitch. I don’t have to do what you say. Stop yelling at me.”
How long did the bottle-kicking go on? I don’t know.
Finally the collector used the speaker system in the booth and said, “I’m not security. I’m not your bitch. I don’t have to do what you say. Stop yelling at me.”
I was yelling because I terrified. I never said anything derogatory to the collector or mentioned anything about him being my bitch. I swore at the man kicking the bottle at me, and kept asking the collector to call TTC security. I could not believe that the collector was doing nothing to help me!
I don’t know how much time passed before I saw the collector finally pick up the phone in his booth.
The man stopped kicking the bottle at me. He staggered down the hallway on my left and collapsed on the floor.
My friend on the telephone said, “Wow! I have never heard you sound like this!”
I do not ever remember being so terrified — ever! Even now as I write this I am short of breath with my heart pounding, and I’m sweating.
It was 7:00 p.m. A second collector came in the booth to relieve the first collector. As the first collector left the booth, I saw two police officers coming down the stairs from the street. The collector walked over to them and pointed to me. I hung up and walked towards the collector and the police officers.
“I didn’t mean to yell at you,” I said, “but I was scared not knowing what the man was going to do to me.”
“Oh yeah?” said the collector. “Well if you were so concerned about your safety, then why didn’t you hang up and call the police?” Before I could answer he strutted away with his arrogance trailing behind him.
I said to the police officers, “I didn’t expect him to call the police. I asked him to call TTC security officers.”
One of the police officers said, “It’s a holiday. TTC security don’t work on holidays.”
The man was still collapsed on the floor. I explained to the officers what had happened.
“He’s a regular here,” said one of the officers. “Perhaps the collector did nothing because he knows that this man is harmless.”
The officers did not ask me for my name or telephone number. When they finished talking to me, they walked down the hallway to the man on the floor.
I went to the collectors booth and told the second collector what had happened. He could not believe the “bitch” quote. I asked to see a supervisor because I wanted to complain. The second collector said, “It would be better for you to call TTC Customer Service. They take complaints very seriously.”
“Can I call them now?” I asked.
“No,” he replied. They don’t work on holidays. Call them tomorrow.”
I thanked him. He was sympathetic in the way he listened and talked to me. When I left, the police were still standing by the man collapsed on the floor.
I could not focus on anything for the rest of the night. I kept staring off into space. Even the next morning, Tuesday October 13, I gouged a chunk of skin off my head while shaving because of my lack of focus.
I called the TTC Customer Service. The woman I spoke to was sympathetic. Was her name Malick? Malika? Meeka? I don’t know. I wrote her name down on a piece of paper and misplaced the paper.
She, too, could not believe the “bitch” quote. She apologized of behalf of the TTC. I told her, “I appreciate the apology, but nothing the TTC can do will take away the trauma of having my cries for help ignored.”
She said that they would investigate to see what the collector had to say.
She was about to hang up when I said, “Wait a minute. Don’t you want my name and telephone number?”
“Oh yes,” she said, “give me your name and number.”
As I gave her my name and number, I thought about how the second collector had said, “They take complaints very seriously.”
“I’ll get back to you,” she said, “and let you know the outcome.”
That was on Tuesday October 13. I still haven’t received a phone call.
If you plan to have something happen on the TTC where you fear for your safety, then have it on a day that is not a holiday, and make sure you have it in front of a TTC employee who cares.