2002/11/23
 
02:27

Boring Through the Earth

Imagine a job where all you do all day is stare down a tube. That's roughly what we ask subway drivers to do. It must be stultifying, so here in Toronto the management tries to give it a bit of an edge by making them call out the stations.

"Woodbine is next. Next stop is Woodbine."
"Coxwell station. Coxwell."
"Next stop, Greenwood. Greenwood next."


It's hardly Shakespeare. It isn't even Britney Spears. Are these people so jaded that they can't have fun with it? If I had their job, I think I'd start the roll like this:

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your engineer. Thank you for choosing TTC for your subway needs. We know you don't have a choice, but we're glad you ride with us anyway. Welcome to train number 3015. We'll be travelling at 43 miles per hour, at an average altitude of minus 30 feet. In the event of an emergency, please leave your seats in the upright position instead of uprooting them in a frenzy of panic. Then, pry the doors open with an umbrella. In the event of flooding, please use somebody else as a flotation device. According to my map, this is Kennedy station. Victoria Park is next unless we hit a rift in the time-space continuum."

Okay, so maybe you'll complain, "Hey, that's not in metric!" More likely, though, you'll say, "You couldn't keep up that kind of witty banter for month after month!"

Possibly not. I can't even write a blog entry every day. Yet when I was in Montreal, there was a bus driver on the 165 (Cote des Neiges) line who made every trip an adventure. He'd announce every stop in a jocular manner. ("Jewish General Hospital. If you're a sick Jewish General, here's your stop.")

Quite a guy. On holidays he'd bedeck the inside of the bus with balloons and hand out jellybeans.

Needless to say, many people thought he was completely nuts.

It's strange that I should have thought that. (Yes, I also thought at first that he was a loon.) But he had a somewhat reptitive job, and he figured he might as well have fun with it. Who am I to judge?

I like looking for random acts of senseless frivolity, such as "Easter Eggs" (hidden jokes) in computer programs. I've included a few in some of mine.

Take, for example, my Parse-O-Matic file conversion tool. It's inherently dull: it massages data into alternative formats. Not even half as much fun as "Duke Nukem".

In the tutorial, I had to present some test data to demonstrate various techniques. I could have used generic address information such as "John Doe, 123 Oak Drive, Anytown, USA", but I opted instead to use a bogus database from a fictitious company named "Fred's Improved Widgets". Some of Fred's products included:

Cat Knurler
Horse-Away
My L'il Flamethrower
Home Canonization Kit


... to name just a few.

It was fun for me, and hopefully I didn't lose too many sales because I didn't seem serious.

Ah, seriousness. I sometimes wonder if that funny bus driver in Montreal got canned for being jovial. Of course, his termination notice would not have said anything like, "Makes riders enjoy the voyage too much". Rather, it would have said, "Does not concentrate on his task" or words to that effect.

Oh, well. If I ever do get a job as a subway driver, I guess I wouldn't keep it very long. They'd probably fire me right after I said, "Hey, passengers! We're approaching Bay station. Wha'd'ya say we tear through it without stopping and moon everybody?"

Note: I am currently unemployed.

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