The Montreal Maze!
Like everyone, I'm trying to save money. I'd like to go on a trip for pleasure this year and to that end I am using The Jar savings plan. My friend Suzi recommended it and, so far, it's working well. You get a jar and...Week 1 you put $1 in the jar. Week 2 put $2 in the jar, and so on. In a year it totals $1378. It's meant for people who have a lot of change in their pocket or purse. I'm not one of those people. I rarely have accumulated change, but still, I think it's a good savings plan. I've just finished week 8 and week 9 starts tomorrow. But I don't have any change or even cash to put in the jar tomorrow and here's why.
I'd been waffling about going downtown to see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Cineplex theatre where they run Classic Films. I saw the film decades ago, and recently saw the National Theatre Live stream in a cinema. It was good and made me want to rewatch the Taylor/Newman film. Once I decided to go, I also waffled about whether to buy the ticket online or at the theatre. Yes, I'm a waffler, big time! I bought it online.
Went to the bus stop. No bus. OK, I've got lots of time, said I to myself. As I stood there, reading the red notice sign, which seemed to contradict what was on the STM (transit system's) Internet site, I realised the site was wrong and the notice posted was right. No bus going south to downtown.
OK, 20 minutes later I walked the 4 blocks to Parc Avenue, only to find another red notice sign. This one said 'Orange' as the instructions for where to find the relocated bus stop. The signs are in French, but I can read simple French. But, 'orange'? What could that mean? A woman pushing a baby carriage who is French said it's that orange-ish pole where the bus stops. I walked to the pole. There was no new sign. Then I saw several houses further up the street a red notice sign on a parking pole. Read that, and it said the bus stop was now at a street about 12 blocks away! The woman with the carriage was passing and I asked her if what I was reading, that the bus stop is 12 blocks away was correct or did it mean the bus ONLY stops 12 blocks away from this relocated bus stop? French is her first language. She didn't understand it either. And like me, she admitted she rarely can understand these red notice signs. It's why I've watched so many people over the years staring at a notice sign for 10 minutes trying to figure it out!
I waited another 20 minutes, no bus. Called a taxi. Waited 15 minutes for that. The driver came, and we only got as far as 20 blocks south. Traffic couldn't go south towards downtown because the southern route was blocked. There was a bus waiting and it couldn't move either, or turn, just sat with warning blinkers on.
The turn choices were west or east. West goes up the mountain which our new mayor has blocked off to traffic until September for the benefit of cyclists, pretty much cutting off easy access from one part of the city to the other for everyone who lives here. So my taxi driver turned east...and we sat in traffic for another 15 minutes. I decided I'd had enough. I paid for the ride and got out. I asked one of the many traffic cops trying to unsnarl the traffic jam if there were any buses going north, since I'd given up and wanted to head for home. He didn't know and said to call the STM.
I was near a supermarket and thought, ok, I can pick up a few essentials, the day isn't wasted. Did that, came out, no buses north. North was the direction I had to go to get home. No traffic east either--street fair happening and that was blocked. Everything and everyone was jammed up. Cars could turn north onto the main boulevard (where there were no buses today) ,but for anyone needing to go south and downtown, that didn't make sense, so vehicles were doing U-turns to go back and to the mountain road to the west, hoping, I suppose, there was a north-south route on the way. Good luck with that! If not, they'd have to U-turn again and hit the same jam and turn left onto the big main boulevard heading north. I was standing at the corner of the main boulevard, looking at the blocked west, south and east routes and seeing zero traffic north.
I was hot. I walked a couple blocks north, thinking maybe there might be more traffic on one of the bigger cross streets. Only 2 or 3 cars were turning onto the large boulevard every 4 or 5 minutes; the majority were obviously U-turning to head west to the blocked mountain road. After 15 minutes, finally! a taxi turned. I flagged him down, which was pretty easy, since his was the only car on the boulevard at that time. He asked where I was going, since he knew where his vehicle couldn't go. Fortunately, he could take me all the way home.
So, my cheap day totalled $6.99 for the movie ticket plus $15. for the first taxi, $8.70 for the second taxi. Total: $30.69. And I didn't get to see the movie! And I didn't get to the ATM I'd planned to visit to get cash for various things, including The Jar! Thank you City of Montreal public works department for the eternal construction; and Mayor Valerie Plant, who cares about bike riders and apparently no one else; and as always thanks to the STM that manages to block every route every year for something or other and doesn't care enough to update their bus service on the Internet site or to post a notice on their website--which I checked, and my bus stop code wasn't listed as a problem, But it was! Or to post simple information on their red signs, and I'm not even asking for English, just simple in French!
Once I reached home, I did chat with Hamza on the Cineplex.com site who understood and while it's not Cineplex's fault, he is sending me a free pass. Unfortunately, it takes 7-10 days to arrive--must come by smail--so I will have to buy yet another movie ticket for $6.99 to see the film on Wednesday, the only other day it's at the downtown theatre. So my new total will be $37.68 to see this movie on Wednesday (not including the groceries I wouldn't have bought if I could have gotten to the theatre!)
If this was the first time this happened to me, I wouldn't be so livid. But variations on this have happened many times. Suddenly, no bus, even though the Internet says there is a bus. Suddenly road closures--in every direction. Suddenly a large taxi fare for going nowhere. In fact, I went in a square: west, south, east, north, east to home. Over 2 hrs! Arriving home at the exact time the movie would have begun.
You not only can't make this crap up, but who would want to?