Friday, November 03, 2006

Codename: The Squid

The e-mail from Sean began:
Your mission, now that you've accepted it, is to meet at the north-west corner of Yonge and Eglinton at 11:30 hours. Each of you will be given a walkie-talkie and assigned a corner. You are to monitor the corner, take notes, communicate to the team on interesting things you see, and generally be a silent nuisance. We can also make jokes about the people we're documenting.
We assigned ourselves codenames: Alison was Raccoon, Sean was Banana, Liz was Hootenanny, I was (unsurprisingly) The Squid. Dale didn't propose a codename for herself, and Liz threatened to start calling her YoYo.

We were very excited about the walkie-talkies, but not so brilliant at actually using them. Much of the conversation went like this:

"Can you hear me?"
"I can't understand a thing anyone's saying."
"Sorry, could you repeat that?"
"Raccoon, can you hear me? Sean? Where are you?"
"Alison's Raccoon. Sean's Banana."


It was a busy intersection, full of people on their way to somewhere else, most of them pausing only to use one of the ABMs. It was a windy day. Lots of the passersby were wearing poppies. Swarms of teens from the nearby high school, dressed for much milder weather, appeared around noon, carrying pizza and McDonald's takeout bags and complaining about the cold. I wrote in my notebook:

11:55: MadVac driven by guy in neon yellow coveralls
12:05: Young black woman walks by reading paperback of The Godfather by Mario Puzo
12:15: Goth boy all in black; baggy pants, tusklike mouth piercing
12:35: Terrier in cute little plaid jacket
1:00: Man in TTC jacket with long grey ponytail

Also, I noticed these pigeons in the desolate concrete square on the northwest corner. They looked like they were waiting for something to happen:

Freezing, we surrendered out walkie-talkies at about 1:15, and Alison, Sean and I repaired to the What-A-Bagel!, which I'd been gazing at longingly from my post at the corner. I had a really delicious, hot-from-the-oven bagel with cream cheese and slices of lox. Sean told this story about his son:

Jackie, whom I've already long suspected of harbouring plots to take over the world, is currently in junior kindergarten at a downtown alternative school. He is going through a phase where he's completely obsessed with Darth Vader. His aunt bought him a fancy Darth Vader helmet that he wore for Halloween. Last week there was an assembly at his school; all the lower grades were there, maybe two hundred kids. There was a discussion period during the assembly when kids could raise their hands and say something: ask the principal a question, raise a concern, etc. Jackie raised his hand.

Teacher: Yes, Jackie?
Jackie: [solemnly] You do not know the awesome power of the Dark Side.


Sean's going to compile all our observations into a "Day In the Life of an Intersection" article, which Matt Borrett will illustrate. Watch for it in the next issue of Spacing!


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