I had decided I was going to do something fun this summer, so signed up for an “Introduction to Wine Appreciation” course at the LCBO. First class was Monday, July 8. For those of you who were out in the Toronto evening rush hour, you would remember it—the Toronto monsoon.
Beautiful day until around 5:30 when the rain started, just as I was leaving the house. I was still relatively dry by the time I had made it to the subway station from my house. Heading west on the subway, I came to the Yonge Street station and went upstairs the platform to head north. Coming off the escalator I knew something was up. Way too many people on the platform; train in the station; doors open with people crammed on waiting for the doors to close.
After waiting 25 minutes, I decided it might be faster to walk—it was only two stops. Come hell or high water (little did I know how literal that would become), I was not going to miss the first class. I headed out of the Hudson’s Bay Centre, umbrella in hand. As I walked out of the underground, I noticed that I appeared to be the only pedestrian outside—that should have been my first clue. I came around the corner from the shelter of the doors and was hit by a wall of water. It was like walking through a waterfall (perhaps Niagara). In a nanosecond I was drenched. I seriously pondered if I still had the receipt to my “water resistant” jacket as I didn’t feel it was remotely doing its job.
After walking about 40’ (that’s 12 meters for those of you born after the mid-70s), I thought about getting a cab but was too embarrassed, because I was so wet I figured if I sat on the seat he’d think I had an accident. It didn’t matter though as there weren’t any cabs and the traffic wasn’t moving. So I headed north on Yonge. I really had no idea how far Summerhill station was. The water on Yonge Street was flowing over the sidewalk. As I walked up Yonge in the downpour, little fountains of water were shooting out of the sides of my shoes with each step.
After about 20 minutes, I finally got to the LCBO. I was not the only one who was late so, having a few minutes to spare, looked for the ladies’ room to try and pull myself together. There were two washrooms—both the “all-in-one” with a girl and a boy on the door. I walked in and wrung out the bottom of my jeans. They made a puddle on the floor. I tried to clean it up but there were no paper towels, just a hot-air dryer, so I used toilet paper. I realized that I was soaked through all my clothes to my skin and knowing I was going to have to sit for the next two hours thought I would at least try and dry my underpants using the hot air dryer.
I pulled my jeans down and bent over, which I thought would yield the best hot-air-to-wet-butt ratio, however, it was one of those stupid, motion-sensor dryers. I couldn’t get the dryer to stay on so I kept trying to jump up while bent over in order to get the dryer to start. VRRMMMM. STOP. VRRMMMM. STOP. VRRMMMM. STOP. Not wanting to wipe-out on the new puddle forming on the floor I stopped. Then I tried to dry my hair but the dryer was too low and, frankly, I just don’t bend like that anymore. Hearing there was now a line-up forming outside the door, I gave up. One last look in the mirror, sigh…I was a “vision.”
I found a seat (at the back) and the guy beside me said, “Hello, I’m not usually this wet.” (Not a greeting I’m usually accustomed to.) I looked down and a small pool was forming around his running shoes. We sat there for the next two hours in the lovely air-conditioned room learning all about white wine. I just wanted a towel and maybe a blanket, or some hot chocolate. My mantra for the evening was, “I’m taking a cab home, I’m taking a cab home, I’m taking a cab home.”
When it was over, it was still a torrent outside. I went to the entranceway of the store and tried to call a cab. After attempts with four different cab companies, all I got were busy signals. I was standing in between the main outside entrance door, with the store entrance door to my right and the store exit door to my left. Every time I breathed the motion sensor would go off setting the doors sliding open one after the other all around me. I tried not to even blink.
Giving up on the cab idea, I finally went back in and asked where the subway entrance was. The cashier told me that Summerhill station was closed because of the F-I-R-E. Seriously? A fire. How could anything catch on fire in all this rain? I just wanted to cry. Eventually, I got home…on the subway…air conditioned all the way.