A Metro Experience

August 21, 2009

The day the underground metro transit system in Montreal opened to the public is a day not soon to be forgotten. It was the summer of ‘67 I believe. ‘Travel free to-day.’ It was broadcast everywhere. Those in the know proudly proclaimed: “One can travel from any part of the metro line to the centre of downtown in only 15 minutes.”
When Joan and I met for our weekly shopping expedition on that wonderfully warm, delightful Saturday afternoon we discussed, over a cup of coffee, the wonderment of the new Metro.
“Perhaps, we should try it out.” I suggested.
“We can go downtown and back in thirty-minutes and it’s free to-day!”
said Joan as we drained our cups and headed for the door.
Entering the brightly painted Metro entrance the fear of going underground flitted through my mind tickling my nerves. Nonetheless, once over the threshold we were swallowed up in a crush of people all wanting a free ride. Too late to change our minds we staggered along with the multitudes. Two hours later we found ourselves downtown.
“Holy –! Was that a long fifteen minutes!” said Joan.
“Where are we?” I asked.
“Not far from Ben’s delicatessen.” Joan answered.
“Perhaps we should stop for a smoked meat sandwich.”
“Yeah, perhaps the crowd will thin out a little if we wait a while.” She replied.
The sandwiches were filling, fries delicious, and the cold drinks refreshing. BUT “Look at the time! We better hurry!”
The situation wasn’t any better now than it was a few hours earlier. We joined the huge throng of people pressing into the metro entrance. Hours later pushing our way to the surface at the eastern end of the city we hailed a taxi. The cabby pressed his foot to the gas peddle. Joan and I anxiously scanned the passing street for a grocery store. “STOP” we simultaneously shouted at the driver, almost giving him a heart attack.
It was three minutes to five. The store was small. Prices were high. But there was food to be purchased. Unable to have it delivered we had to show restraint in what we bought, carrying it along with our guilt. There would be food on the table for our children and husbands after all. And we, well, we had quite a day.
We shared an experience in history never to be forgotten by either of us.

Downtown in fifteen minutes? I think not. Would we do it again? Probably.

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