I remember May 2, 2011. The day after May Day. A day to celebrate the progress that we proud brothers the world-over have made in the international labour movement.
After a grueling, six-hour work day at my cushy job in the Ministry of Fixed Gear Bicycles & Complicated Espresso Drinks, I went to bed in Fortress Toronto, home of the safest Liberal seats in the House of Parliament, secure in the knowledge that no matter what winds of change buffeted the less stalwart ridings in the Rest of Canada, Hogtown would remain as it had always been: constant, true, Liberal red, forever.
I also remember May 4, 2011. I awoke, dazed, in a new, blue, Conservative city. As you now know, this became the day all Torontonians were assigned new jobs. Effective immediately (overnight, anyhow), we became Bay St. bankers, international hedge-fund managers, market analysts and senior farm mortgage foreclosers. It was a new life, and the habits and haunts of the old Liberal ways would no longer do!
As a public service, I present to you a short diary of my first fumbling days in the new city, in the hope that other Torontonians can learn what I now know about how to navigate this changed city.
Upon leaving my Front St. penthouse condo, I discovered that the TTC had been designated a service strictly for butlers, valets and/or service-personnel. Fortunately, a convenient and surprisingly economical alternative existed in Yorkville Limousine, 416-835-5466. With chauffeured Rolls Royce service offered at only $1,000 a trip, providing me with a quiet and mobile office-away-from-the-office where I could scream “Buy!” and “Sell!” and “Pork belly futures!” into my cell phone in absolute comfort, I was practically making money each time I went to a meeting.
I did understand that, before I could show my face in public, my Trotskyite beard and long flowing hippie locks had to go. As well, gazing down, I couldn’t help but notice that my John Lobb oxfords, hidden so long in the darkest corner of my closet, had grown dusty and dull. Fortunately, I knew just the place to fix both of these problems. Just inside the moat of one of King Street’s castles of finance, The Scotia Plaza: Truefitt & Hill (Barbers To British Royalty Since 1805), Scotia Plaza, 40 King St West, 416-214-4646. One traditional hot lather shave, haircut and shoe polish later, and any man will have a face fit for a first-class in-flight magazine and shoes that shine while standing on the throat of the world’s economy.
By this point, it was nearly noon. I was hungry, but knew my usual radicalized drum-circle, hackey-sack exchange and vegan-friendly potluck lunch days were over. Besides, I now hungered for much bloodier fare. That is how I found myself at a Toronto institution, Barberian’s Steak House, 7 Elm St., 416-597-0335, where they’ve been bursting the buttons on three-piece suit vests for over 50 years. There, in the company of a wine cellar housing over 30,000 bottles, dark wood paneling, dim lighting, enough red meat to make Anthony Bourdain blush and the lingering echoes of a thousand plutocratic chortles, I filled my belly and fueled myself for the challenges to come.
It was now late in the afternoon, and as a new Conservative I felt an urge to look down on Toronto. I needed a perch, a well-appointed aerie for a mighty eagle to survey his dominion. Thus, I made my way to The Roof Lounge at The Park Hyatt, 4 Avenue Road, 416-925-1234, to peruse the cigar menu and well-stocked bar and enjoy monocle-popping, breathtaking views of the city.
It was there, later in the evening, at my final destination, that, chomping my fifth stogie and enjoying a delicious brown liquor, I realized that I had forgotten to actually show up for my newly assigned job. Theoretically,then, I was already unemployed and destitute. Hmm. Um, recount, please?
(Semi-)White-knuckled, I grasped the railing and looked down the 18 stories to the street. And I thought to myself, “This is Canada! I am confident that our strong social safety net will catch me.” Certainly. Definitely.
Image courtesy of CBC.