The Most Interesting Person in the World

Travelling the World via Subway

Posted on: November 3, 2014

October 28

I almost didn’t clown today. I have a lot of school reading to catch up on. I’m having a really bitter month. But then, perhaps for that very reason, a voice inside was telling me, “I need this!

One woman on the platform smiled at me.

A man held onto luggage with the tag “World Traveller.” I asked if he was travelling the world on this subway. It turns out he was — he just arrived in Toronto after 4 days on a train from 4 days spent in Vancouver. A taxi was supposed to take him to Carlton, but here he was at York Mills station, lost. This is the first time he’s ever been on a subway. I was honoured to accompany him on such a trip. It turns out he’s from the very city in Australia where I performed for the Fringe Festival, Adelaide. “Small world,” he said. “Big city,” I said, after explaining how far he is from his destination, and about the Megacity that is our sprawling Toronto, not to mention the Greater Toronto Area. He was taken aback by how many people there are. When our train filled up at Bloor station, he said, “That’s half the population of Adelaide right there!” We compared notes on things like high rises (Adelaide: none) and it comes in handy that I’m a former tour guide, so I know a lot about Toronto that I can welcome a newcomer with.

Today I used the clown nose as an opportunity to engage someone for my entire subway ride. I made a friend — he even offered me a place to stay next time I visit Oz.

Today I used clowning as therapy for myself. And it worked! When I got to my hospital practicum, two elevators arrived. One was empty and took me directly to my floor. Note that this has never happened in my year of working there, and this process usually takes 10-15 minutes to wait and stop at every floor in a crowded, airless elevator.

How can I use encounters like this one as an opportunity to engage riders with each other? Is that a necessary part of this project, or pressure I’m giving myself to legitimize this community project? After all, most therapy sessions only engage one person.

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