The Greater Toronto Area encompasses a large geographical area, and the urban sprawl of never ending Shoppers Drug Marts, airports and 1950’s era shopping malls makes it difficult to be able to tell exactly when you have finally driven out of the city. Here is a handy guide:
1. The Need For Speed
Take a look around you. If most of the cars are doing 120km/h and are leaving next to no breaking distance, you are still in Toronto and are bearing witness to why car insurance is so high. Rush hour is obviously an exception. During rush hour, only one person will be moving. The prick jumping across three lanes on The 401 to gain 3 seconds while risking the lives of everyone in the vicinity.
If you don’t see any cars at all, either the Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse have arrived, you are one of the few survivors remaining on the planet and the future of humankind rests on your shoulders, or you have reached Northern Ontario.
2. Accelerator Pedal? What Accelerator Pedal?
If you have figured out how the cruise control works on your vehicle, or at least realised the point of it, you have left Toronto.
3. Coffee Break
Try taking a coffee break. Are the vast majority of Tim Hortons employees caucasian? Congratulations, you are either: Further east than Ajax, Further South/West than Hamilton or North of Barrie.
4. Two Lanes
Outside of Toronto, the inside lane can be used for driving in. In The GTA it is a place to sit waiting behind buses as you angrily stare over the dashboard wishing actual death on every passenger, while all the time you frustratedly chew on your entire fist.
You can see actual wild animals, rather than dead raccoons twitching in the gutter. In the distance, you can see the horizon. If you can’t, it’s because there is a hill in the way. Or a forest. A forest of trees. Not a forest of concrete. The only vaguely wild animals you will see in Toronto are the ones you see after dropping $23 on a zoo pass.
If you’re outside of Toronto, people will ask you where you are heading with genuine interest. In Toronto, people will wonder where the hell you think you are heading as they ‘accidentally’ clash shoulders with you.
7. Boom Boom!
When you open your window and all you can hear is the sound of rushing wind, you have left Toronto. If you can hear a near subsonic, barely rhythmic throbbing boom, a kindly Torontonian is generously sharing their collection of drum ‘n’ base beats via their vehicular mobile disco.
8. Costly Abode
You can actually imagine being able to afford to buy one of the town houses you pass. Either that, or there are no town houses.
When you tune your car radio, you get static, Shania Twain, Nickleback and some barely comprehensible radio drama that ultimately, and via the most contrived, convoluted means imaginable, unfolds into a bizarre moral lesson from a random Old Testament Psalms verse.
A previous post I wrote, 8 Reasons Why I Hate Torontonians, got some odd feedback from people who have undergone a sense-of-humour lobotomy. I live in Toronto. I love the city. Thanks.
If this was mildly amusing to you, you might also find my e-book, A Short History of Things, to be of a similarly tepid level of hilarity.