As my car edged closer to the core of the city, my pulse quickened and beads of perspiration formed on my forehead. My hands became clammy and my body began to violently reject the smog it was forced to inhale. I had entered my nightmare.
Although I had planned well for my entry into the bustling metropolis, I had failed to mentally prepare for the barrage of overwhelming stimuli while simultaneously maneuvering my car through the streets of Toronto. I had meticulously drawn my route to the convention centre and arrived without incident. Fleeing the scene of the trade show, however, was an entirely different story.
I should premise this paragraph with the fact that I drive a manual transmission – a gross error in judgement when driving in an urban area. The “quiet” side street that I used to enter the underground parking was a mere memory. The exit, entering into the maelstrom of the end-of-the-day foot traffic, was a seriously steeply-graded hill and one infused with pedestrians. Once I had made it successfully to the top and had not made contact with any bumpers or human body parts, I was dumped into the middle of Front Street, not only in rush hour traffic, but in the hour leading up to a major league baseball game. The pavement was a sea of relatively happy people on their way to a Blue Jays game and I was trying to regain feeling in my leg after trying not to roll back into the car behind me or plow through the pedestrians in front of me.
My calf muscle argued vehemently about the constant clutch action but I continued along the somewhat familiar route searching for the much calmer side street I had used that morning. I put my signal on, anticipating the upcoming turn and trying to change lanes, and was met with a few honks and dirty looks. City drivers tend to have no patience for people who have not mastered the art of “offensive driving” and are unsure of where they are going.
After what seemed like a lifetime, I made it through the winding avenues to the much more forgiving expressway. My heart beat quieted slightly and I no longer felt like I would spontaneously combust. It was not until I was comfortably North of the city limits and could see parts of the Precambrian Shield that I felt like I could relax and enjoy the journey home.
Next time, if there is a next time, I will be smart and reap the benefit of public transit to get to my destination. My blood pressure and my calf muscles will thank me.