I am on the Spadina street car on Friday night. It is empty when I get on at King but I am soon joined by two Mexican men, one of them drunk.The drunk one is hailed by the driver demanding to see his bus pass. The man fumbles through his pockets, his weathered face set easy on his skull as if along for the ride. 'Not worried. The street car is filling up; riders eager to board at each stop, most appear on the way to somewhere fun.
The mood on the street car though, is tentative. Is there going to be trouble? The drunk man is setting the tone. He finds his pass, shows it to the driver and twirls to the seat behind me like an egg spinning on a countertop. He talks in spanish with his friend ahead and to my left. His friend seems kind, and unflustered by his drunk pal but the rest of us still wonder if something is going to happen.
At Dundas, a passel of young men get on, possibly students. They stand in the aisle behind me as all the seats are full. The drunk stops talking for a moment, then,
"Hey. Hey, are you…you Japanese? Or, K'rean? You K'rean?"
"Me? I am…Japanese."
"You?" (I assume he is speaking to another)
"No. I am not Japanese. Yes. Yes, I am Korean."
There is a moment when I sense that everyone on the bus holds their breath. Trouble?
"Hey…how come…hey, Japan…hmmm…how come Japan doesn't have a soccer team playing? 'You guys watching soccer? You should watch. It's good…"
The street car reaches my stop. There is laughter as the two young men and the drunk consider his question. I step off onto the platform and it dawns on me that they have much in common. They are all brave - so very far away from home.