Monthly Archives: June 2016

Only Child warns transit riders to mind their manners

Toronto transit streetcar

Toronto transit streetcar

I am quite vocal on the problems and mistakes with public transit, particularly Toronto Transit, known as the TTC. In pointing fingers at everyone from TTC management to drivers, we tend to forget ourselves, the passengers.

We have our faults when travelling public transit and a few of them that cause other passengers grief need to be addressed. So, here in no order of importance are the biggest offenders and offences of TTC riders that I see in my many travels on public transit.

  1.  Blocking the exit doors inside the subway when you are not getting off at the next stop. Many passengers seem to think they own the doorway and stand around yakking, using their smart phones for anything but phoning. The majority don’t move their butts when the train arrives in a station and the doors open. That leaves the rest of us having no choice but to push our way on or off, often stepping accidentally on toes. Would it really hurt to move in (unless it is sardine-crowded in rush hour) or at least go to the doorways on the opposite side of the car which is not being used at the time?
  2. There is much concern with people using their devices to text, etc. when driving or walking along the street. But a few jerks have the nerve to block the subway stairwells to text because they are too lazy to move a few feet off the stairs. I know they are trying to catch the reception, but standing at the top, bottom,  or midway on the steps by the railing is not only bad manners but unsafe for those of us who have to hang onto railings to go up and down stairs. I usually use my outside voice to tell these clowns (and this is an insult to clowns) that they are blocking the way and I need to use the railing. One a****** had the nerve to tell me to use the other railing on the other side of the stairs. I snapped back “that’s for people coming up the stairs.” He moved. Some people may be tempted to give these device addicts a shove, but more to the point, in busy rush hour with everyone hurrying, someone might just accidentally careen into the device addict.
  3. This one is more for bus and streetcar passengers. Those oversized baby buggies with the widely-placed wheels. Yes, I know parents have to get their babies and toddlers around. But some think they own the whole aisle at the front of the bus so just park their buggy anywhere there. Sometime they stand with it. Sometimes they sit in one of the front side seats. But do they have to take up all three seats with their carriage and themselves? Or worse – straddle the carriage to the first window seat, effectively locking in whomever is sitting there. One of the worse scenarios occurred on a bus I travelled on and to me it was a clear case of ageism. A senior with a walker got on right after me and she stopped near the front of the bus, but to the side as best she could, considering Mrs. Entitlement Parent was blocking most of the aisle-way before her with her monster baby buggy at the front. You can imagine the difficulty people had getting on and off. But there was worse. Mrs. Entitlement Parent wanted to get off at a stop and insisted the old lady with the walker get off the bus so she could do so. Now, if Mrs. EP had moved further in, she could have exited via the back door. The buses we’ve had since 2004 in Toronto have the wide exits with no stairs and the doors push open to the outside. Note: a few parents are considerate – move their baby buggies in well enough for people to get by and also use the back exit. A few have even pushed the side seats up and stood with the buggy there. Not Mrs. EP. And the driver didn’t even say anything to her. But I did. The lady sitting in front of me turned around and asked “Aren’t you afraid of repercussions?” I replied, “I’m too old to care.”
  4. People who park their bags on the seat beside them. And I have been guilty of this one a few times, so a bit of mea culpa here. Suffice to say, if you are carrying a lot of bags, try to place them on your lap, on the floor by your feet (I put an extra bag on the floor between my feet to avoid people tripping over feet and or bag), or on that shelf at the front of the bus just inside the front door. It does get tricky with suitcases but it can be done. Yesterday on the bus there were two ladies with huge suitcases, but they managed to each put their suitcase, standing up,  in front of them on the floor  – and they only took up two seats in the three-seater side seats
  5. So, for the last one, to all passengers. Think before you plunk yourself on public transit. It is public transit you are travelling on, not in your own private vehicle.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Only child, Public Transportation, Toronto public transit

Only Child says beware telephone fraudsters

telephone_rotaryWhen I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s the worst telephone problems were wrong numbers, kids playing tricks with possibly the odd harrassing call. The funniest one my Mom, Dad and I received was from someone calling for a taxi. We weren’t a taxi company but we had almost the same phone number as the cab company, except for one number. The taxi calls were annoying but not dangerous.

Not so nowadays. Telephone fraud is running rampant. Sometimes I think it gets forgotten with all the online scams and frauds. But phone fraud is real and sometimes  connected to your computer.

We seniors have to be especially vigilant as we are prime targets for these fraudsters. I am a former journalist with a jaded suspicious outlook on life, so I am vigilant. And angry when these buggers call me. Often it is a recorded message – even when you mistakenly pick it up and don’t let it go to voice mail.

The past week it has been two calls in particular – coming repeatedly during each day.

One is the fake Canada Revenue Agency call that if you don’t call them back you could be arrested. If you call the number they will want you to pay thousands of dollars and they use the arrest threat. I haven’t called them back because I had heard of this scam before. In fact my friend across the street was getting them last week too (do they target by geographic region?) and after four calls he phoned the Toronto Police Services. So beware calls from this number with the message to call the same number back 855-888-5927. This is not the CRA. I haven’t called the police yet because my online research shows they and other regulatory organizations are well aware of this fraud and this number.

The second call (again recorded) claims to be from the CIBC (bank), a Mississauga, Ontario branch and the caller (a woman) even has the nerve to state “this is not a scam.” But the kicker, what alerted me was the start of the call  where it mentions the name of the person they are contacting. It wasn’t my name and the name was inserted into the recorded message. They gave a reference number (8581721) you are supposed to use when you call them back at 866-751-2167. I didn’t call them back but I did put a complaint (online) into the National Do Not Call list. I also finally put my name and number on their list for those not wishing to be called by Telemarketers – although there are some exceptions of who can still call. And it takes a month to be effective – telemarketers have to update their lists you know.

Third one I’ve been phoned on is the Microsoft computer fraud. First off it is not Microsoft doing this – Microsoft may be guilty of other things, but not this one. I believe the way this fraud/scam works is that after the caller says he is from Microsoft, he tells you there is a problem with your computer and you have to give him your password. I didn’t let the fellow get any farther than stating he was calling from Microsoft. The first one I called him on his scam and he hung up. The second one stayed on the line a bit longer saying “It’s Microsoft.” Not likely. Microsoft doesn’t call you. I finally told him if he didn’t stop calling I’d call the police and I hung up.

What can you do when you get a suspicious phone call?

Never give out any personal information, including passwords.

If you are suspicious, you can hang up – but if you can get their phone number that is even better. Then you can go to http://findwhocallsyou.com/ and type in the phone number. Or chances are there are many more who have complained about the same number. Scroll down their numbers and click on the comments. The fake CRA one is listed.

Call your police department.

If in Canada, there is the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre run jointly by the RCMP, OPP and Federal Competition Bureau.

Get on a national do not call list.

Don’t answer the phone, but take note of the number and time of call. Chances are the most insistent fraudsters will leave a message in your voice mail.

More information on what to do and what not to do is at the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre 

And yes, details about the tax scam is on their site. So are details about other current scams – phone and online and who to report to about them. There is information on how to contact them as well, to report a fraud instance, online or call 1-888-495-8501. The website is updated daily.

Unfortunately we can’t go back to simpler phone times. And if I sound like an old you-know-what longing for past days, you got that right. Our world today is not really nice in many ways. So be vigilant while trying to enjoy what is good – like books, gardens, food, friends and family (not necessarily in that order).

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Only child prepares to battle telephone fraudsters.

Only child prepares to battle telephone fraudsters.

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Consumerism, Microsoft, Telephone Fraud and Scams

Only Child becomes frenzied gardener

Only Child on the patio of her backyard garden

Only Child on the patio of her backyard garden

I love gardening. To me it is life and without it a lot would die inside me.

So why the past week have I turned into the frenzied gardener? Setting aside time slots on weekends, mornings before work, evenings and rushing outside to frantically dig, weed, trim and plant?

It’s the weather folks. And having too much else to do. And dealing with ongoing health issues. The latter and all the extra stuff I have to do for them is something I resent. If nothing else, with all the thing going wrong with my health in the last year, I learned that you can spend too much time dealing with health stuff – finding out what the heck is wrong – including making medical appointments and dealing with medical professionals’ bad judgements and the fallout from that, and of course what I have to do for my health.

First of all, I am not a big fan of prescription drugs, but I am thankful for the double content prescription eye drops my ophthalmologist prescribed. Not only have the drops stopped the eye pressure from decreasing, but the actual pressure has decreased. The latter is not something that is supposed to happen.

No, it’s dealing with all the nonsense related to my digestive disorder – this one has no cure and I’ve been living with it for years and since then it has taken on tentacles, so to speak. I’m not even going to go into my daily regimen for that. Suffice to say, to help ease the pain, help ease the situation, I take a lot of natural supplements and the like. And yes they help. But when I go to make what used to be a simple breakfast, it turns into a major production.

So, my garden is my lifeline and if I’m out there pulling weeds and digging up a storm, please excuse me. It does make me feel better and even drives the digestive disorder pains away. I get great joy looking at my garden and once the tomatoes are in the garden (yes, I’m over a week late with them thanks to the weather – too dry and fluctuates between too cool and too hot – more the former), I plan to sit out more in the garden and just read and enjoy.

And  yes, I’m taking yet another look at what (besides the aforementioned health stuff) is stealing my time and some of it is either going on the back burner or going out the window. I also have a lot of client work (for which I’m grateful) now and that is a priority. So is family, reading and walking. Too much social is not – I’m cutting back or at least spreading it out and that includes replying to email. Don’t get me wrong. I love email – it and the Internet were my first forays online back in the mid-1990s and except for blogging (which I love doing) I much prefer email and  searching on the Internet to trying to keep up with social media. And I’m cutting back on one thing with social I seem to get roped into – arranging work and school reunions of small groups of old friends. I still want to get together with them, just not do all the organizing.

It seems no one else wants to or has the time to organizes these lunches or dinner get-togethers either.

So, it will be one-on-one (or two or three) with friends getting together. That way I’ll see some of them, at least.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Roses in bloom late spring

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Family and Friends, Gardening and depression, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Health, Home and Garden, Life Balance, Life demands, Prioritizing, Time management

Travelling public transit then and now in Toronto

Toronto transit streetcar

Toronto transit streetcar – College route – end of the line High park

Sunday, I got the big run-around (literally) with travelling on public transit in Toronto. I avoided the subway route where part was closed to subway trains due to maintenance. But when I had to take a bus from a subway station to get to a grocery store, the bus took a detour. Sure, the sign on the bus said “Detour on route,” but not where. No signs at the subway station and the driver made no announcements. Imagine my surprise when the bus suddenly make a right turn off its schedule – one stop before I had to get off.

I charged up to the front and asked the driver if we would be getting back to Pape at Cosburn. He said he would be getting back to Cosburn. The detour continued around and up Donlands Ave. and when we got to Cosburn (and a red light) I asked if he was left turning onto Cosburn. He didn’t know. The bus ahead of us at the light continued straight on and so did “my” bus. Furious, I demanded to be let off on the other side of Cosburn. He let me off and I walked back to Pape (a short walk) in case there was a problem with the regular bus on Cosburn Ave.

What caused the detour? A street festival on Pape.

Why couldn’t the bus have a sign indicating where the detour was? Why didn’t the driver know about it?

So many unanswered questions.

Of course I later filed a complaint online at the TTC website. Seems that I do many of these lately.

I find travelling on Toronto public transit – bus, streetcar, LRT or subway can be a challenge sometimes. Despite the TTC website postings for times, delays, postings at subway stations, sometimes I feel like I travel public transit at my own peril. A little disclaimer here – I do not have a Smart phone (can’t afford one) so once I leave the house I can’t check updates that way. Before leaving I do trip planners online, check for any delays, and make note of the four bus routes where I can board a bus near home. I am grateful for this proximity.

But..

Anything  can happen. Sometimes the buses are late or early.  I used to enjoy subways rides. It gave me a chance to read or observe people. Now, when I get on I wonder if I’m going to make it to my destination on time and without mishap. Subway fires in stations sometimes  flare up on the tracks; signals malfunction; there are medical emergencies and police investigations of incidents (these latter  two are necessary), and of course there are scheduled subway closures on weekends (we get lots of warning about those). The irony here is these closures are usually for track and signal repair and upgrades. So why do these track and signal mishaps still happen? I’ve also noticed that the subway closures for maintenance are often repeats of areas where it was supposedly done in previous’ months closures. What does this tell you?

Shuttle bus service is put on for these weekend scheduled subsay closures. But no matter how many buses are in service, it doesn’t come near the space on the subway trains. So, you get long lines of commuters patiently waiting to get on a bus (if  lucky) or angry groups of people crowding on the street outside the subway station waiting for a bus to get to work. The latter occurs more often when pop-up emergencies happen – such as a fire under some of the tracks at the Yonge subway station last week. That is Yonge-Bloor – the major subway transfer station in Toronto. The subway was closed for three hour during rush hour.

I’m glad I don’t commute to work every day.

But I used to years ago and yes, subways were crowded, but it didn’t seem as bad.

Taking it back even further (we’re in the grey years now folks), when I was a small child I used to travel a lot on buses, subways, and streetcars with my mother. I never worried about getting where we were going because Mom was leading the way. Sure we had to wait for buses and subways and streetcars, sometimes in the snowy cold; sometimes it seemed like hours. There was always something to look forward to – such as where we were going – our weekly shopping trip to the Danforth for fresh vegetables and fruit and wanderings in the old Kresge, Woolworth and Metropolitan stores. I would often let my imagination and sense of adventure take over (yes, despite being a shy kid, I liked some adventures, although not real scary).

And yes, it wasn’t all convenient. Here’s a very short excerpt from my memoir in the works about getting a bus from home – which was not too far from where I now live.

The bus stop closest to 139 was around the corner on O’Connor Drive – that is if you walked left and the TTC hadn’t moved its trademark red and white sign to the far side of Don Mills Road. If we saw the bus coming, we played transit roulette with the streetlights at Don Mills Road and the driver’s whim to wait for us and the alternative – making a hasty right turn and sprinting to the next bus stop.  Once we boarded the bus, we continued with the rest of our travels. (excerpted from You Can Go Home – deconstructing the demons copyright 2016 Sharon A. Crawford)

 Ironically bus service in that area has increased in bus routes but the old Broadview 8 bus route mentioned above actually runs more infrequently then back in the 1950s and 1960s. Another paradox, service slowdowns seem to happen more frequently than back then on these routes, old and new. I know that with the subway and streetcar routes aging infrastructure is often to blame and a lot of that is being fixed – at least work is being done on it. But sometimes it seems as if the work is being repeated in the same areas.

And the timing seems to be bad. Lots going on in Toronto on weekends in the summer – from Blue Jays games, to street festivals that close streets, concerts and all those runs and walkathons. It is a nightmare, but more signage and information would be a start to help.

So would upgrading and fixing those subway signals and tracks the first time round.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Sheppard subway station entrance and exit

Sheppard subway station entrance and exit

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Life demands, Mother and Child, Only child, Only child memoir, Public Transit, Toronto public transit, Toronto transit detours and maintenance