What it’s like to always be on the wrong side of the tracks when that shiny new train shows up
I was overjoyed the first time I saw the AZUR slide into my station, albeit on the other side of the tracks. I was sure that minutes later, my very own would purr in and I would get my turn to ride the new metro. I was disappointed when the same old rickety train groaned in instead.
Four months ago, I moved to Montreal from Australia, a small island on the other side of the tracks. I come from an even smaller city on the West Coast where you need a car to get around. Enter my car, Heidi. Or Heidi the Hungry as she’s known in popular circles—namely my wallet, from which she gets her fill. Chasing greener pastures, I left Heidi behind and my just-as-hungry girlfriend, Hagatha—hungry instead for my time. (Please don’t tell her I said that. Over 17,700 kilometres away she has the hearing—and now I think of it the ears too—of a bat).
I looked at my watch, I was going to be late. I leaned over to stare into the tunnel’s abyss and in typical Nietzsche fashion, it stared back. But I continued to stare, eager to catch a glimpse of the AZUR. I had already seen it three times, every single time on the other side of the tracks. I had begun to lose hope. After our first missed connection, I raced home to learn that STM was slowly introducing the new trains to the underground, starting with one on the orange line during off-peak hours.
I was on the orange line right now, it was off-peak right now, and I was sure the AZUR would come along, right now. AZUR, I thought to myself. Even the name sounded like an exclusive underground nightclub—which is half true. It would also explain why it’s so hard to get in. After several sightings without ridings, my childlike intrigue had begun to sour, and now I found myself like Ahab after Moby, on the hunt for my white whale, or perhaps my blue train.
I studied footage on social media: excited passengers beamed as they filmed their maiden voyages, beautiful bright lights lit the deck. I was all aboard on virtual tours admiring the open-car design. Oh, how it allowed passengers to walk up and down the centre planks. Wider doors, panoramic windows, ergonomic seats, smart ventilation—move over Heidi, hell, move over Hagatha—AZUR, take me home.
Whines squeaked from the abyss, disrupting my daydream. A train was coming. And as sure as I was it was the AZUR, it wasn’t. I shuffled onto the trusty old rusty metro home, and I chuckled. The irony wasn’t lost on me. Sometimes, things are meant to be left just out of reach. The train I wanted to catch, the car I left at home, and the girl I left behind (she will be batty after her sonar picks up this article), all wait for me, on the other side of the tracks.