Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Home Sweet Home

What an epically terrible evening. Laughably so. At 4pm I got the bus to Verdun, way out south-west, to a McGill hospital. I had signed up to take part in a 'psychosocial challenge test'. The bus ride was very very long, about 40 minutes... But I got there in plenty of time. I had to fill out lots of online personality tests, which I usually enjoy in a sort of well-it's-kind-of-dull way. I had to chew on cotton swabs for them to get saliva samples to measure my cortisol levels, to see if it was affected by stress. Then they put me in a fake MRI machine and I had to answer mental maths questions with buttons. It was designed to make you stressed and frustrated - every time you got one right, they got harder. And there was a line turning from red to yellow to green, and it showed where the average was and where you were, in terms of how many you were getting right. The test organiser said, try to stay as close as possible to the average. But the average was always way above the marker showing my position. They repeated the test twice, and at the end of the first time they said 'below average, try to do better next time,' and at the end of the second time they said 'you're too below average, we'll have to do it again so we can get proper data from your results, you'll have to step it up a notch.' And I'm not big on mental maths at the best of times! I twigged part way through the second run that something odd was up. But I got stressed anyway! Physical reactions vs mental rationality I suppose.

I got $30, which was nice, and got out in perfect time to get the bus. But. I got the wrong bus stop, and didn't realise until I saw my bus pulling away from a different stop. I'd seen it, but it said 'hors de service' (out of service) and didn't turn on its light saying the route number until it was too late. I ran and ran to catch it but couldn't. So I was sort of wet from running over a roundabout covered in snow, and out of breath, and completely in shock, because what on earth was I going to do when stuck in the middle of nowhere with no bus for another 40 minutes? A taxi came along straight away, amazingly, considering where I was. So I hailed it and got a lift to the nearest metro. The driver was really friendly, and we chatted away in French, which was great. He said my French was good, and we commiserated over the bus, and talked about both being immigrants (he was Arab, and came here 10 years ago on Halloween). So I paid $8 for a taxi, and then a further $2.75 for the metro, when I should have just paid $2.75 for the bus. With travel included, that means I only got $15 for spending three hours being manipulated to feel frustrated and worthless.

I got the metro. Verdun is on the green line. So is McGill, my closest station. For some reason, I thought this meant I had to change to the orange line. So I got off at Lionel-Groulx, and got on the orange line. I realised how stupid I was. I got off one stop later at Georges Vanier. I spent a long 10 minutes waiting for a train to get back to Lionel-Groulx. I got on the green line again. I went three stops. As we were approaching the fourth, the speakers said 'next stop: Verdun'. I had got on the train going west instead of east. So there I was, back in Verdun, half an hour after leaving it. I bought a Caramilk chocolate bar and waited for an east-bound train. I got on the train and ate my Caramilk and tried not to laugh. I got off at McGill. Now I am home, five hours after leaving. No lie. This evening is going in the record books.

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