We have all suffered from the constant service interruptions of the Montreal Metro. And we all know that it affects the users in more than one way. Particularly when users must connect with trains and buses. So, a 5 or 10 minute delay in the Montreal Subway system may make us waste 50 minutes or 1 hour on top of the time already invested inside the subway.
We also know and can expect that the Metro will fail. It will be delayed exactly at the rush hour and when you need it the most. And we know the frequency is very low, so outside of rush hour in the middle of the day you can wait about 6 to 7 minutes for the subway train to arrive when everything goes well. We can complain and rant about how for being such a small and geographically limited subway Network, Montreal Metro fails almost every weekday.
If you are feeling frustrated by the facts mentioned above, please don’t even read or Google the news from the STM justifying the poor service and promising to improve it since 2013. Without fail, every year is worse and the promises are more numerous. On top of that, by some miracle, the STM claims (I don’t know the source of their numbers) that most of the users got to their destinations on time. Is there any budget to send the planners and some managers to Caracas, or Medellin or Madrid (not to even dare to mention New York) to compare how a subway system should work at least in much more economically challenged countries.
Come on! Now read the above paragraph again and imagine yourself justifying to your customers and bosses your poor performance at your job in the same way. It is hysterical! As I am writing these lines I am laughing. I can see now the humor in the whole thing even if it is affecting my daily commute.
I have chosen to follow some of the advice you can read about in articles discussing the practice of mindfulness. Here are several ways the STM cooperates with me in my meditation practice and views of life. So, in reality, the ridiculously bad service of Montreal Metro has helped me in the following ways:
- Increased meditation time. Even standing up in a mega crowded metro wagon. Starting by just three minutes focus in breathing my practice has become 45 minutes over time.
- Awareness of the diversity of people and how humans, at the core, resemble each other, regardless of origin.
- Increased praying time.
- Easy way to practice love kindness meditation sending love to random people around you
- Conscious effort in blood pressure regulation using and experimenting with breathing techniques.
- Awareness of surroundings, including smells, noises, the change on the pronunciation of the station ‘Scuaar Victoria’ and much more.
- Practice daily random acts of kindness, offering seats, opening space, helping someone with the carriage.
- Patience, patience and more patience, waiting for a bus another 40 minutes because the metro failed again. To that we can add the blessing of the cold weather and wind which makes our character, our unbreakable will, stronger.
- Learning, using all that extra time Montreal subway system offers us to read books and listening to the most interesting podcast (Thank you Tim Ferris!).
- Focus, trying to read, or listen to a song or Podcast while being pushed, squeezed, run over, and at the same time frequently removing the ear-phones to hear the same repetitive message on the metro PA.
- Gratitude during the long waits in the completely isolated underground tunnels, without signal (yes people no signal). It makes many of us feel like we are monks in a grotto taking part in a large mythical procession, so our sense of gratitude gets amplified when we hear the metro is finally moving and that soon we would know what it is to breathe the freedom of open air in the city again.
- The opportunity to ponder on the great mystic questions of life, like how long is it going to take Berri UQAM station renovations or how much do those new plain white walls cost (like the backsplash of a kitchen).
- Planning in advance. Since we all know the metro will fail, we are getting better at being earlier and earlier. We pack food and beverage because who knows what could happen, and we are ready to run after a bus when the metro finally arrives at the station of destination (by the way, a great way to burn extra calories)
And without a doubt, the most important thing I am practicing daily is letting go. Letting go of the time I should arrive somewhere, letting go of finding answers and rather live and appreciate things as they are, adapting myself to the environment. Let’s have a good laugh at the cartoon world we enter every day in the Montreal Metro System, and thanks to the STM for so many ways it helps us in our spiritual and mental growth.