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Friday, September 23, 2016

Is it really that simple

Voltaire once said, “I have chosen to be happy because it’s good for my health.” I wonder for how long he managed to keep up that resolution. Were things different in his lifetime? If Voltaire had lived today rather than in the 1700s would he perhaps also occasionally have lost his cool?

I think it’s strange, to begin with, choosing to be happy. Is there anyone who chooses to be unhappy? I imagine that most people get out of bed in the morning resolving to look, feel and do their best.

But no sooner does the day get started and life starts throwing stones at this resolve. There’s no hot water in the shower, a button is missing from a favorite shirt, the milk has gone sour … your good mood is being undermined and you haven’t even left the house.

On the road, there are more experiences to brush you up the wrong way: the highway is a parking lot, cars don’t indicate to turn left or right, or indicate for an ‘eventual turn’, or a car slides into your parking spot.

As the day progresses you get served more aggravation, from superiors, colleagues, and machinery. How are you doing with that “I have chosen to be happy because it’s good for my health” resolution?

I don’t have a car, so I don’t have to deal with highways and parking spaces, as a TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) user, I take the train, bus or streetcar. Not that that is without aggravation.

For instance …

Yesterday I was waiting in the Lawrence East station when I saw a youngster come out of the parole office across the street, walk up to the station and swan through the revolving barrier without paying.

This is the second time I’ve seen this happening. The first time an ex-inmate walked up to the ticket office and said that he’d come to see his parole officer but didn’t have any money for the train for the return journey. The TTC staff member asked him how he’d got to the parole office in the first place. “The same way,” he said. “They just let me through.” The staff member waved that he could proceed, without paying.

While that guy at least had the decency to ask if he could go through, the youngster I saw yesterday afternoon had no such manners. Without the slightest hesitation, he just walked in, indicating that this wasn’t the first time he was allowed on the train without paying.

Now that ticks me off. On average two million people take the TTC each day. The majority uses this form of transportation to get to and from work, but there are others who use the train for different reasons. Some are on their way to an interview, others have to go see a doctor, dentist or other medical professional. Others still have appointments at a hospital for life-saving treatment. All of these people, whether they are young or old, rich or poor, employed or unemployed, have to pay. But ex-inmates do not?!

If I was the kind of person to make resolutions, my “I have chosen to be happy because it’s good for my health” decision would go right out the window. I do not choose to be unhappy, nobody does, but life with all its complications and injustices just makes my blood boil.

What was that Mr. Voltaire …

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