View Full Version : More then you think happens on Toronto's GO commuter trains.

Dec 13, 2006, 2:42 PM
Here is a cute article from the TOronto Star. Enjoy, and make sure to read the BLOW TRAIN section at the bottom at the bottom.


You can GO your own way
GO train commuting is hours of boredom with moments of inanity, with more happening on the rails than the ride's PG-13 image suggests, writes Erin Kobayashi

If you are sitting on the GO train's top floor two-seater tucked away in the corner, please move. Don't ask, I'll explain later. Don't offer your seat to someone else. Spare the old lady with the cane. Please. Now read on.

GO trains are a mundane mode of transportation associated with business people commuting from the suburbs. The GO's reputation is so bland that the TV show Train 48 illustrates just how boring it is by being cancelled. Public transportation such as the 501 Queen streetcar — that "mental institute on wheels" — get all of the public transit system glory.

But, in truth, the green GO train is the little engine that could, would and did. And then some.

Snooze train

In the morning, where our story begins, the GO is so peaceful you can hear the pages of newspapers turn. The fragrance of perfume (Chanel No. 5) and aftershave (Old Spice) is potent on the collared necks of passengers, "to the point where I can't breathe," Michele Burrows explains.

The Zen atmosphere, the sun rising, the calm and peace makes it opportune to sleep. "People fall right asleep, snoring, mouths open, drooling," says Burrows, 25, who travels to work in Toronto on the Georgetown line.

Interestingly, the last train leaving Toronto also carries sleeping passengers. But that's because they've passed out from drinking. And so the circle is complete.

Assigned seating

Most commuters expect their GO ride to be predictable: On time, same car, same seat, so they can relax. One day, Burrows found something a little off. "When someone takes your seat you are like, `What the hell are you doing? I sit in that seat every day and you see me in that seat every day!'" Some subway commuters would think, "Wow, Michele, you are lucky to even get any seat during rush hour." But Burrows insists she sees the same commuters so often they all can predict one another's actions. Except when it comes to seat-stealing, apparently.

My GO train boyfriend

Burrows used to see the same young man so often on the GO it became awkward. She called the stranger "my GO train boyfriend" because she saw him more than she saw her actual boyfriend. Although Burrows and her GO train boyfriend took the same train and got on and off at the same stops in the morning and evening, she never talked to him. The monotony became so freakishly redundant that Burrows began to feel like a stalker. She eventually changed cars, presumably stealing someone else's seat in the process.

General nudity

There are a lot of things I wish people wouldn't do. Ever. Not even in a park downtown. "There's a naked man who walks his dog along the lake where the beach is," says Alison Lindsay, 28, who rides the Lakeshore GO line. "I'll look out the window, admiring the beach and there he is, walking a sheep dog or something, in the summer. Naked. I think of mothers and children on the GO looking out and seeing a possible sexual predator."

How about seeing a possible sexual predator in the making? Last spring I noticed that a boy who appeared around 12 switched his seat so that he would be sitting diagonally across from me. As I stared at the scenery passing by (fields, junkyards, condos, how Western civilization is rapidly developing) I noticed his reflection in the window. He seemed to be staring at me intensely, only not, because he was somewhat cockeyed. When I turned to look at him in the eyes, I saw he was masturbating.

Niki Santos, 22, recalls a memorable train delay in the fall. "There was some man running naked on top of the train at Oakville station." And Kathryn Ballentine fondly talks about how someone decided to climb on top of a platform shelter and start "screaming and stripping while the train was parked outside of it."

All of this bizarre behaviour happened in the morning and afternoon. It's worth pointing the streakers weren't drunken Leaf fans celebrating a win, although that happens, too.

Train 48's legacy

Sometimes you will see a group of regular commuters who sit together and gossip every day. Some will even bake cookies for each other. Not everyone, though.

Once Bobby Dhillon, 24, from Hamilton, decided to strike up a friendly conversation with a woman sitting directly across from him. "How long is your commute?" he asked.

Wrong question. The commuter, a divorcée, complained to Dhillon about how she was about to hit 30 and move in with her parents because of a cheating husband. "Blah, blah, blah," are the words Dhillon finishes the story with.

Thankfully, most people do not want to have anything to do with you. "When the conductor comes around and checks the ticket, that's the only time people actually look at one another," says Christine Paculaba, 23, who rides from Port Credit to Union Station. "It's super stigmatizing because you have 40 people staring at you. That's the only time when you see emotion on the train. Otherwise everyone is asleep."

"Let's party on the bus!"

As the GO train pulls into Exhibition Station to bring Tenacious D fans back to the 'burbs, Erik Klyve, 18, bursts with excitement. "Let's party on the bus!" he shouts to the concertgoers, seemingly oblivious to the fact he is on a train.

Perhaps he was speaking metaphorically: Usually after concerts and hockey games, the GO train becomes an ushering service for boisterous music and sports fans. The top floor — "the party floor" — is like the back of the school bus, carrying hundreds of teenagers and frat boys wearing the same uniform: $40 concert tees or Leafs jerseys. The noise and energy level is typically obnoxiously loud.

But the real GO train party happens on Friday and Saturday nights on the evening trains that head to Toronto. The top floor of the train turns into a VIP area with a happy hour. This is where the alcohol is cracked open and chugged: Sleeman ales, Skyy Vodka mixed with Grape Crush. "We're 19, we're 19," a drunken group of girls insists as they take sips from a mickey being passed around and talk about playing spin the cellphone.

Picking up passengers

Forget waiting for the clubs, young commuters are on the prowl as soon as they step onto the GO. Unlike subways, GO trains allow passengers to walk through the interconnecting cars. At night the windows become mirrors, reflecting every fluorescent image on the train. The victims are always the youngest looking women. I watch a strike-out.

"I could see him in the window looking down every once in a while and he came down," says Lara Correia, 22, of the young man who approached her. "Once he found out how old I was it sort of ended."

I approach the rejected Pako Auzmendi, 19. I get the impression he was just trying to pass extreme boredom and impress his group of friends.

To be honest guys, I wouldn't recommend the GO train scene as a place to pick up girls. They are probably looking for someone with a car.

Snakes on a train

Once, while I was on the train, a man with a black bandana around his face carrying a huge duffel bag ran down the stairs past me. I looked out the window and noticed a police car pull up. Suddenly, undercover cops with guns were running past me, asking where the assailant fled.

Nobody knew or really cared. All of the passengers ripped out their cellphones to call someone and tell them something actually exciting had happened on the GO. After 15 minutes and an announcement from the conductor thanking everyone for their patience, the excitement wore off, though, and everyone was just annoyed to be running late. Gimme my money back.

The blow train

Remember when I asked you at the beginning of this article to move if you were sitting on the top floor, corner seat? I hope you took my advice. My field research indicates this precise GO train seat is most preferred for couples to give and receive ...

"The two-seater on the top floor is preferable for fooling around because it is the most secluded since it is at the back and no one can sneak up from behind," says Brad, 26, an experienced taker. "It's also the only pair of seats that do not directly face another pair, so you are effectively blocked by the seatbacks in front of you."

It's not really the whole getting caught in public fixation that makes oral sex appealing on the train. "I'd have to say it was out of sheer boredom," he says. Questioned riders confirmed that whenever they witnessed or partook in sexual acts, it was in that seat and involved mouths.

Maybe you can do a favour and warn other passengers about sitting in the Blow Train seat. If it is too weird to actually talk to the poor sucker ... ahem ... do what Sean Nix, 23, saw on the Georgetown GO line: Regular riders would label newspapers for other commuters and place the paper on their seat when they got off.

Try it. Leave this story there.