By Izabella Balcerzak
Commuting via subway to school isn’t easy. If it’s rush hour, you’re fighting with crowds of people in an un-air-conditioned vessel with that uncanny smell of some decomposed food that shouldn’t be there in the first place. Adding your cat to this equation can only mean a fun time—trust me.
In the span of about 15 minutes on what should have been a typically uneventful October day, I was surrounded by shocked commuters all heading towards Dundas station with my pants torn and my cat loose, crawling on my knees like a lunatic.
How did I get here? Like any good horror, this story begins with cockroaches.
I’d been living in an older part of Toronto for three years where my roommates included people from Turkey, Iran and pests from under the kitchen sink. We all lived in peaceful harmony until a metre-long crack in the living room ceiling appeared and the contractors came in to repair it by dramatically ripping it open.
Historically, cockroaches are known to survive atomic bombs, so the mess that was my life drew the creepy-crawlies even more to familiar environments. They selfishly fed off of my misery and the bits of plaster hanging from the ceiling.
Unable to continue my murderous rage each night, I had a pest control visit scheduled at 9 a.m. the following week. I rushed to gather my things for the day, which included packing up my cat to drop off at a friend’s house near campus.
The vessel was a rusty cat carrier that had a few screws missing and the top and bottom duct-taped together. My domicile cat—named Bunny by his eccentric previous owners—wasn’t too happy about leaving the burrow in this first-class Dreamliner cruise.
Like any good horror, this story begins with cockroaches
As I trudged a block towards the subway station, I stopped on the side of the pathway and crouched down to fish for my preloaded Presto card that was buried deep in my backpack. As I stood back up, I heard the sound of my favourite black pants tearing down the seam near my crotch.
I thought things like this only happened in the movies.
Not wanting to look defeated, I picked up my cat’s cage and strode towards the entrance. Reaching the gates, I began to tap my $50 preloaded card. “Declined, Declined, Declined,” rang tauntingly in my ears.
Confused, I tried my luck instead with a token, which meant entering the station 100 metres north. “Exercise is good for you,” I thought.
The next ten minutes of my subway ride went on as usual. Then “shit hit the fan” (figuratively speaking, of course). Just as we were approaching the next station, the front door to my cat’s cage unhinged, and he leapt as fast as his little paws could take him.
I yelled, “MY CAT!” and ran down the aisle, squeezing in between surprised commuters.
Quickly realizing that the best way to find a cat is to think like a cat, I went down on my knees, cooing, “Bunny, Bunny, Bunny,” every few minutes.
After crawling for what felt like miles, I found my scared cat meowing under the seats. Hearing Dundas station being called next, I dragged him out from underneath and held him one-handed like a toddler. I couldn’t stop laughing. The other option was to cry, and I didn’t have time for that.
Leaving the train station with a gaping hole down my thigh, a broken cat cage and my cat in my arms, I figured life was full of unexpected surprises. It’s a telltale sign that adventures are endless; for humans and cats alike.
You never know what might happen the next time you take the subway to class. You just might run into my cat. Please tell him that the Balcerzaks send their regards.