Written by Danforth Operator Rich Anton
I’m a Toronto subway driver
And I’ve learned to speak
A universal language
By lifting both my cheeks.
I can speak Italian,
Farsi and Maltese,
And a little Sudanese.
I speak of warmth and friendliness,
I think it’s still in style.
Communication without words,
I speak with just a smile.
5 Questions with TTC’s subway poet Rich Anton
Q: What/who inspired you to write this poem?
A: My many years of service in the TTC gave me the experience to write this poem. The inspiration came when I was enjoying a quiet moment while guarding (operating the doors of the train).
Q: How long did it take to write?
A: I wrote the rough draft in about an hour. Then I came back to it for editing. This probably took another half hour to an hour.
Q: Is poetry a hobby?
A: Poetry is definitely a hobby and has been since I was a teenager. I’m not as prolific as I used to be, but when I was operating out of Wilson Division I had six of my poems published in three different magazines. One went belly-up shortly after publishing my work. I tell myself that was entirely coincidental.
Q: Who is your favourite writer/poet?
A: My favourite authors are ones with a powerful message of hope, inspiration and spirituality. One of my favourites is Leo Buscaglia.
Q: What do you like most about operating in the subway?
A: I like many things about operating the subway. I enjoy moving people from A to B in an efficient, courteous, safe and environmentally friendly way. I enjoy special moments with the public – be it helping a tourist at Kipling who just got off the Airport Rocket, or waving goodbye to a toddler when I’m guarding, and having them wave back. I like having time alone to chill in my cab, and I like shooting the breeze with my many funny and interesting co-workers at the TTC.