All posts by Rinarocks5676

My name is Claire.

Today I was on the subway heading into work. There was a disheveled woman in her early forties, plump with scraggly blonde hair and huge baggy jeans. She walked up and down the aisle repeating “My name is Claire, can I please have some money for food, I’m hungry. My name is Claire, can I please have some money for food, I’m hungry”. For some reason this made me smile. When she got to me I said, “Claire – how is your day”. She said, “not good, I’m hungry”. I said… ‘then I’m going to help you because I really like your marketing strategy”. She looked at me suspiciously but relaxed when I gave her some money. “I’m Claire, and I’m hungry” she repeated. “Yes, I totally get that” I said. She stared at me blankly for a second and then continued on her way, repeating her line.

Whether you are running a 7 figure business, or hustling for change – everything is marketing. She personalized her pitch by announcing her name. She pitched her problem. She was hungry. And she had the solution. Just give he some money. Short, and direct lol.

Mystery Solved

Yesterday I was on the Queen Street replacement bus. If you know anything about the TTC, you no longer have to show your pass when you board a streetcar, however you are required to do so on a bus. We stopped at Sherbourne and a black man with dreads got on. I could tell he was a little out of it but he stood at the door shuffling in his pocket. He asked the driver if he had change for a $5 bill. I was super interested in this because i could tell he probably didn’t have a $5. I guess the bus driver realized this also because he said, “You know I don’t make change AND where is this $5 bill”??? A woman who just stepped on asked if she could swipe her presto card but the driver said you couldn’t swipe twice in a row. The man started to walk down the centre with his hand out trying to collect change for his fare. A kind man gave him a token. He then turned and tried to sell this token to the kind woman who had offered to swipe presto. She was aghast and said, “HE GAVE YOU A TOKEN, GO PAY”. The man returned to the front and paid. He then asked a few people for change before sitting beside me.

“Can you spare change”? he asked…

Now, I almost always give change but I felt annoyed with this man and said no. A minute later I said, ‘ this was extremely impractical of you…. had you waited a minute for the streetcar, you could have entered without paying a fair…you just wasted someone’s generosity…. this doesn’t make sense to me”. He smiled shyly and nodded in agreement. “No, really” I continued… “what was your thought process…. you just gave $3 to the TTC, that you need for yourself – how could you have not waited for a streetcar”???

He just smiled and then I started to feel guilty.

“Ok… listen, I’ll give you some change, but there is a cost to you”.

He looked perplexed.

“You need to explain your thought process. I need to understand for my own curiousity why you wouldn’t have waited a minute for the streetcar – I just need to know”.

We sat silently for a few minutes and then he said….

“I was cold”.

I handed him a $5 and got off.

I Look Like a Princess!

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I walked into a store for voluptuous women. There was a happy smiling Nigerian woman standing in the middle of the store with her arms full. “I’ll take this one, and this one, and that one” she exclaimed excitedly. I was smiling and said “I love your shopping style, so enthusiastic”. We shared a moment and then I moved on.

Later I was in the change room staring disapprovingly at my reflection. I’ve gained a few pounds and I didn’t like what I saw. All of a sudden I heard my new friend Temi laughing gleefully from the change room beside me. I heard “oh my goodness I look like a princess” and a series of “I love this, I look beautiful”. We walked out together and I told her she was so inspiring with her positive self love. She laughed and said ‘I can’t lie, I looked beautiful”.

The salesgirl told us we were adorable and I had her take our photo to commemorate the moment. I told Temi about TTC Tales and she excitedly wrote down the address.

Perception is reality!

Truly Inspirational

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I had coffee with this beautiful soul. He arrived from Nigeria with $200 in his pocket. I was shocked as he said he didn’t know anyone here, and didn’t have accommodations. I kept asking, ‘but what was your plan’?? He laughed and said he had no plan but he was so happy. He went into a shelter and worked for $9/hour doing back breaking labour lifting heavy steel that left him in extreme pain and within one month was in an apartment. Within 6 months his wife arrived with their son. The most heart breaking part of the story was when he told me about his wife having to work in the factory doing heavy labour. ‘I would bleed inside when I thought of her working’ he said. Awwww :( I looked at him with such admiration and respect. He is so happy and optimistic. He has taken courses, gotten his drivers license and has a vehicle – they are both working in comfortable jobs and building their life. I laughed and told him I failed my drivers license and given up. He smiled and said he had failed 4 times and yet there he was, driving! Truly inspirational.

Desperately Seeking George!

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I was heading home in a late night Uber. My driver, Moses, mentioned he was from Uganda. I professed my deep love and appreciation for African people. His eyes got wide and he smiled and asked me why? Hmmm good question…I guess, because most of those that I had met had overcome great adversity and struggles and it had become woven into the fabric of who they were. There was so much pride and work ethic and respect and dignity and I just felt a connection, no explanation beyond that. I guess this answer released something in Moses because he pulled over a half a block from my house and spent 22 minutes telling me his story. He grew up in a village and no one had a vehicle. When his mother was ready to deliver him they had to bike over to another town to find someone with a car to return and bring her to the hospital. They were too late and he was born in the field. He told me about their extreme poverty and how he had no shoes and when there were special occasions his mother would go to the neighbour to borrow shoes from a boy named George. And then he cried and said he wished he could find George to thank him.

He made me feel so special!

atale

I was on the subway coming home from downtown. There was a young Mexican male sitting behind me named Adrian. A burly older gentleman got on at Bathurst. He had a loud, booming voice almost like a drill sergeant. He asked the younger guy if he could sit and then I heard them in deep conversation for 10 mins. The drill serg had 20 questions – where is your family? Where do you work? How were your holidays? I was impressed with his ability to make conversation. When he got off at Jane I turned to the young guy and said ‘wow, that was impressive’! ‘I know’ he beamed… he went on to tell me how special it made him feel and how Xmas really brings out the best in people. We were laughing and taking selfies and when I turned around everyone was smiling at us. Yes, that’s how you connect with strangers lol. Most of us got off at Royal York and as I walked up the escalator two young guys standing beside me smiled and said ‘have a great holiday’ awwww I love these moments!

Solidarity

Lily and I were on a packed Queen bus, heading towards Yonge when I heard the commotion. Two black women, one in her thirties, another in her fifties, were storming towards the back of the bus, loudly proclaiming their disdain for the driver. I couldn’t hear the exact problem, but the younger woman was raging about a lack of customer service. Normally I shy away from outbursts on the ttc but I’m passionate about this topic. Our eyes met and I nodded in solidarity. “I don’t understand why people get into customer service, when they aren’t good with people” I shared. She emphatically agreed. “HELL YA”. She went on to explain that she asked the driver to lower the bus for her friend who had a bad back but the driver sighed loudly and did one little push at a time, while she kept telling him lower! “It’s one button – all he has to do is push it” she exclaimed. We were sharing our stories of frustration, and really, ttc drivers often infuriate me with their rudeness and lack of heart. Finally I said, “I love your assertive nature, it’s empowering”. She laughed and thanked me. She went on to explain that they both worked in a non-profit and they had to deal with problems every day and that they had to be tough and assertive to get their point across. Lily had jumped up initially to offer the older woman her seat, and she hugged her for the sweet gesture. As they left they gestured to Lily and said “you look like you are raising an assertive young lady also” and I must admit that I am:) Nice experience on the TTC.

Sweetheart Meter:)

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I was at the Dundas Station when I saw an elderly homeless man sitting in the stairs with a sign. I was searching my purse for change with my back to him when I heard him say “Is that my sweetheart meter going off”? lol. I didn’t have much change but he was so adorable I felt inclined to pull out a $5 (something I rarely do). I said, “can I ask you something… if I had given you a cake, would you have liked that? (I’ll explain this someday). He said, “I SURE would”! lol. So adorable. We talked all about what kind of cake he liked, and then he told me that he’d been a teacher once, and that he’d spent $280K taking care of his mom in a home and when he lost her he had no one. He was so moved that I was listening to him that he started to cry and asked for a hug. He said, “no one ever sees me”. At that exact moment two young people came by and gave him sandwiches. He jumped up and told me I had changed his luck and he couldn’t be any happier.

Marketing 101

I left the bank at Queen and Church and a man approached me:

“Can you spare 25 cents”?

“I sure can” I said. I smiled and reached into my purse. “How are you doing’?

(He sees he has a live one now lol.)

“I’m ok, I’m just really trying to get a meal at McDonalds”.

I hand him a toonie.

“Ya, I’m really trying to get $10 to get a meal at McDonald’s”. he says.

“Well – here is $2 – that’s 8 times what you asked for, so you have to be happy with that outcome”.

He stares at me for a second. He starts to walk away and then turns towards me – “I wasn’t asking for the whole $10” he says, and shows me another toonie, “I was just trying to work towards that so I can get a meal”.

“I really liked your approach but it needs a little work”.

Now he is fascinated. He wants to walk away but he can’t bring himself to.

“You asked me for 25 cents and I thought, how can I possibly say no to such a humble request? As I reached for my money, you told me you were trying to get a meal. I’m already invested in the transaction and now I want to help you reach your goal. And then you say, you need $10 for McDonalds. Now I’m thinking, what are you getting, the McFilet Mignon? All of a sudden I have images of you getting high in the park and I lose my feel good moment. It’s ok, because the deal is done, but what happens when you see me next week, I’m less inclined to be a repeat contributor, you need to stay realistic”!

He is quiet for about 30 seconds and then he throws his head back and laughs loudly. “I’ll keep that in mind” he says, and then he’s gone.

My Soulmate?

As many of my close friends know, I envision my soulmate to be an African man, glasses, works in the non-profit world, spiritual, gentle and loving, less ego, more Stedman to my Oprah.

Yesterday after toastmasters I stepped on to the subway at Bathurst Station. At that very moment a handsome African man in a grey suit walked on as well. He sat across from me and stared directly into my eyes. After a minute he smiled at me. I smiled back. A minute later he moved seats to be closer to me. Yep I thought, this is really happening, cue our theme song, shit is about to get real!

My soulmate put his hand on my arm and smiled gently… ‘do you ever wonder if God really loves us’ he asked. Um…. not really I thought. ‘Do you want to find happiness in life’? Yes, yes I do. ‘Do you want to pray and be heard by God’ he asked wistfully.

I smiled at him and stood up for my stop. “Yes I will pray tonight and I’m certain I’ll be heard, it was nice meeting you”. As the train slowed he handed me his Watchtower brochure – Enlightening Visions of the Spirit Realm.
“Jesus loves you and so do I” he said.

I froze… images of us handing out brochures in front of the ttc clouded my mind….. just us and our two kids, going door to door every weekend, lovingly meeting the neighbours, just me and my Jehovah soulmate…. nope, can’t do it.

Damn, So close and yet so far away!

His Spirit Takes me!

Lily and I were sitting on a bench on the subway platform this past Sunday. Two uniformed TTC employees walked by, engrossed in conversation. One of the men was a chubby, black man in his late 40s’. After they passed, Lily turned to me and said “There is something about that guy I like. His spirit takes me”. I gasped and said, “OMG really? Me too”!!! I had just been thinking the same thing. “Lily… you don’t think this is astounding… that we are both connected to that guy.??? We need to go and tell him”. This became one of those moments where Lily rolls her eyes and pretends she’s annoyed, whilst jumping up and excitedly walking over with me.

“Mom – what are you possibly going to say” she asks… “why do we even have to do this”? I explained that how else are we going to end up with a TTC tale and that we couldn’t miss these opportunities. When we arrived in front of them, they looked at us almost annoyed. They were most likely expecting us to ask how we got to Yonge Street, but I launched into my speech.

“Maybe no one has ever stopped to tell you this, but you have amazing energy. There is something really special about you and we wanted you to know”. The guy laughed embarrassingly, and said “me”? He smiled and said “wow, thanks”… and then we quickly walked away. I didn’t have a whole lot left to say lol, but I felt that was enough:)

The Wave

I was on the Dundas Streetcar this morning. I was sitting in a single side seat, just past the back doors. I looked up to the front and there was a very young little boy sitting in a small stroller facing me. He had to be a year and a half. He probably didn’t even talk yet. He had long brown hair that wisped around his ears, light tanned skin, and big brown eyes. He was wearing green froggy pajamas and sat motionless with a book in his hands. Our eyes met and we held each others gaze. I smiled with my eyes but wasn’t animated otherwise. For some reason we just stared at each other for at least 10 mins. He never fidgeted or made any single movement and then it happened. He put his little hand up and waved. I was taken aback and smiled. I waved back. He never smiled, but continued to stare into my eyes. We were quite a distance from each other and I hadn’t realized he was even focusing on me. Another 10 mins passed and then I reached my stop. As I moved to the door I lost sight of him for a second. Out of curiousity I stepped back and looked towards him. He was still looking directly into my eyes. He put his little hand up again and waved slowly. I waved back and then I was gone. I smiled about this all the way to work. I swear sometimes our souls recognize each other.

It’s Never Over

On Thanksgiving day Lily and I were taking the subway out to Scarborough to visit friends. The train was empty except for a young man with a shaved head and red beard. He looked over at us and I noticed he was trying to speak to me. He said “I apologize if I’m staring over there”. I noticed he clenched his jaw and twisted his neck. I smiled and said it was ok. He closed his eyes for awhile and then looked at me in agony and said, “are you ok – I should have asked how you two are”? Without saying a word, Lily and I got up at the same time and walked over to sit beside him. I’m always extremely proud of Lily, and she sat right beside him. We could tell he was in withdrawal and he was really hurting.

I asked him about what he was going through. He was making a lot of spastic movements and he struggled to tell us about his torment… He said that he had fucked up his life… destroyed his dreams… ruined everything… that he just wanted to die. I asked him a bunch of questions about rehab and recovery, and the catalyst for relapse. “It’s over for me” he said. I told him about my life… my mistakes… my rock bottom… my lowest of lows… and said, ‘it’s never over, it’s never too late, you can turn things around’.

We got off at Warden Station together… and he walked off ahead quickly before turning around suddenly and bursting out “thank you so much, you mean a lot to me”, and then Lily hugged him.

Beautiful REAL moment on the TTC.

You Just Need to Show up!

I was riding the Spadina streetcar down to Queens Quay to see my trainer. I was busy trying to talk myself out of training when I noticed a a man in his 40’s, maybe 5’6, long red hair in a pony tail, wearing yoga pants, a big orange t-shirt and a fedora. He was struggling to get on with one of those pushable carts that wasn’t cooperating. He cursed and finally asked a woman to move over so he could sit close enough to hold it. She was a mid forties Asian woman with unruly hair and bright red lipstick. A minute later the man noticed his seatmate holding a scratch ticket. He excitedly told her “wow, once I had that ticket and I had ALL OF THE VOWELS and I still didn’t win”. She looked at him in complete silence, slowly turning her head to face straight ahead and putting the ticket in her bag. This didn’t deter him… “ya.. I had a friend win $15,000 playing that”. Again, dead silence. The woman looked down. I was sitting across from him, about 5 seats away. I felt this overwhelming frustration with her for not even acknowledging him. How hard would it have been to just smile and nod? I was too far away to naturally get into the conversation but the man was looking around intently at everyone and when his gaze reached mine I smiled. The man did a double take, and now seeing he had a receptive audience, spoke again to the woman but even louder. “You can’t win, if you don’t play”!!! Someone got off so I moved to a closer seat. Asian woman – no response. He looked to me for validation and I said, ‘you got that right! But that applies to all of life, you just need to show up”. He nodded silently, and said “True, true” .. and then reflectively went on “I gotta remember to show up”. The Asian woman looked at him and SMILED. Success.

Mission Accomplished!

Yesterday I was at the corner of Church and Gerrard when a young woman approached me. “Can you spare some change – I really need it”. I was in a special mood so I declared enthusiastically, “You do, do you”?? She was taken aback by my tone and stared at me, despondent, almost expecting me to say something rude or sarcastic. A young woman who had just refused her froze two feet away and was listening intently. “Well I definitely CAN spare change” I said, and started to rummage through my bag. The girl closed her eyes for a second and in an emotional moment said, ‘omg I can’t believe you said yes… no one has said yes to me today”. I ended up giving her $5 which is a lot more than I normally give, but I just felt this connection to her – she seemed so vulnerable to me. She went on.. “no one wanted to help me”. I told her that I don’t believe that’s true… that people say no as a knee jerk reaction and that it’s not even a conscious decision half the time. I know this because it’s happened to me many times. I’m lost in thought or busy and I just say, “no sorry” and keep going before I realize I feel bad and should have helped. “People are conflicted… they are shy or nervous or uncomfortable… don’t take it personally” I said. As I walked away I noticed the young woman who had denied her earlier, walk back and hand her some change.

That made me feel great. Mission Accomplished!!!!

Like a Boss

This morning I was at Tim Horton’s having breakfast. I was sitting at a high table right beside the cash. A slightly disheveled and disoriented man in his late 40’s shuffled in. He must have asked what kind of muffins they had because I heard the girl recite a list before he chose one. She grabbed the muffin, and as she was putting it in a bag he turned to me and said, ‘can you buy me a muffin’? I was taken aback by his process but I was too impressed not to say “you better believe I can buy you a muffin”. I handed him $1.50 and he paid. I wondered to myself, did he actually have the money and just want to see if he could get more, or was he just so confident that he pre-ordered like a boss?

A minute later he received my change, put it in his pocket and sauntered out.

Game all over the place! lol

Tom is Talented

This morning I rode the subway from Royal York to Broadview. An attractive Jamaican woman in her early 40’s entered and was standing behind me. I could hear a man ask her if she wanted a seat. His name was Tom I found out, and he was a business analyst for Bell. She declined in a polite manner and then he launched into a full conversation. He asked her about the jewelry she was wearing, her background, her career. He shared his story as well. They’d both been to Miami, they both loved to travel. Her stop was nearing and she let him know. They introduced themselves and shook hands and I was dying to know how he was going to go in for the close. Finally he said, “Do you have a website – I’d love to see some of your art work”. Nice. She did and she told him the address before departing at St.George. Tom had had to give up his seat so the TTC driver could get into his window, so he then sat beside me.

I waited a second before I said, “Tom, I admire your ability to hold a conversation, it’s a real art”. He was taken aback and laughed, and then we started talking. Mostly we talked about how afraid people were to talk – and how they were perceived as crazy. We were both from small northern towns originally, and we talked about our jobs and how we both lived on Royal York. I mentioned that she was quite attractive, and I really enjoyed the website question. “Impressive Tom – you nailed that”. He laughed again.

We both got off at Broadview and split up at the buses. Before he left he said… btw, do you have a website? Why yes… yes I do Tom…. and perhaps he’ll read this story there:)

Waxing and Waning

Yesterday as I waited on a bench at Keele Station, an elderly gentleman in a fisherman’s hat and frayed plaid shirt sat beside me. He looked up into the daylight sky and pointed out the half moon. “Do you think it’s waxing or waning” he asked. Now to be honest, I had no clue… so I said, ‘with 100% certainty, it’s waxing”. He smiled and said ‘you’re right’. I’m not sure if he actually knew or he was just feeding off my confidence.

We talked about the Fall weather and how we both loved it. We talked about rush hour, and how we both hated it. He told me at his age he needed to pace himself if he was going to make it – no boozing, no late nights, activity spread out over the day. I told him that at his age, he might as well go all out, what did he have to lose? We were both frozen in silence for a second and then he threw his head back and laughed wholeheartedly.

In that moment our bus showed up. I walked towards the bus and he told me to have a great day. I curiously watched him walk back into the station and out through the turnstiles to the street.

I think he decided to take my advice.

George is a Bully!

I was feeling a little emotional today, worrying about my family as my grandfather is going in for heart surgery. I was on the subway and a Trinidadian gentleman in his 40’s was standing near me. He had very loose jeans that he had belted tightly at his rib cage, and a baseball cap. He was talking clearly about getting married. He said, “I am not going to invite George, George is a bully. I will invite Lorell, she’s nice. I need a marriage license”. I could see people were uncomfortable, looking away or trying to move away. A woman looked at me and shook her head and mouthed the words “i thought he was on the phone”. Normally I would have jumped in sooner but my distraction kept me quiet. Finally I met his gaze and said, “congratulations, marriage is exciting”. He looked down at me and we started talking. He asked me where he could get a marriage license, and if he should invite George. I said, “NO, George is a bully”! That made him excited and he said, “you know George??? he bullies me, what should I do”? I told him to tell George to leave him alone, and then to avoid him and not to invite him to the wedding. He then told me he was a police officer and had his car at 41 division. He said good bye and jumped out at Bay Station.

An older, portly gentleman moved to the seat near me and said “that was a beautiful interaction, he just needed to be acknowledged and validated”. I agreed and said we all do. Most of the people around me were smiling. At the next stop a woman was exiting and turned to me quickly and said, ‘you have a beautiful heart’, and then was gone. . She is right. I do have a beautiful heart. So does she for noticing that and acknowledging me. So does the gentleman who was moved by the experience, and the people who were smiling around me. We all have beautiful hearts. We are just scared. We are so afraid to look stupid, or to be judged by the people around us. When you are dealing with someone who has challenges, there is always a risk. Yes, this man connected to me and we talked. He just as easily could have screamed obscenities at me, and that could have been embarrassing.

We risk embarrassment. But at the end of the day, the possibility of connecting with other human beings and making them feel special outweighs that risk.

I forgot my pass!

Yesterday I met a friend for lunch. She ran into the bank and I was waiting by the bus shelter for the King street car. I walked out into the street to see if it was coming and a caught the attention of woman nearby. She was a tiny Muslim woman maybe 5 feet tall with a grey head wrap and bright pink glasses. She had bright lipstick and a purple paisley jacket and she was beaming. She asked me if the streetcar was coming and I shook my head and smiled, ‘not as far as I can see’, and then I went into the shelter. She followed me in and started to tell me that she had forgotten her bus pass and she was stressed. I told her she should just enter from a back door as they won’t check but that she runs the risk if a fair inspector comes on. She then spent about 9 minutes telling me an elaborate story. She’s very forgetful. She owns a framing business and she often forgets her phone or her keys or her pass. The story got more and more animated, and finally she was laughing… like really laughing… and then tears were rolling down her face. I couldn’t make out the entire story but I just kept smiling and nodding. I was sitting, and she put her hand on my shoulder to steady herself as this story was apparently very hilarious and overwhelming. At that moment my friend came out of the bank and walked over to me. She looked at me incredulously and said, “wow, this stuff really does happen to you”. I think maybe she thought TTC tales were a figment of my imagination. Nope.

Finally the streetcar arrived and the little, cheerful woman walked right up to the driver, opened her purse and pulled out her pass?

Ya, I didn’t get it either:)