I went to visit my old roommates in Toronto last weekend. Because of my rather limited budget, I looked on Craigslist for a drive from Montreal to Toronto. I figured it would be cheaper and faster, than the bus.
I quickly found a guy going to Toronto at the time I wanted. Perfect. I sent him a text. “Hi, I’m looking for a ride on whatever day at whatever time. Do you still have room?”. He replied that he did have room. I confirmed my spot with him and went on to ask: “What is your name and what kind of car am I looking for?” I didn’t get a reply. At the time, I thought it was odd, but didn’t think much of it. In fact, it made me a bit frustrated at this guys lack of organization, but nothing more.
I went to the pick-up spot at the agreed-upon time. There were no parked vehicles. Terrific, I thought. I texted the guy: “Hi, I’m here, what kind of car am I looking for?”. His reply was “I’m here too.” This guy was too much. Eventually, he found me. Turns out he was parked around the corner (to be fair, I would have easily spotted him if I looked around the corner). I got into this guy’s white van with 9 other people. Clearly this guy’s business is shuttling people from Montreal to Toronto.
We set off in the van and were immediately instructed to put on our seat-belts. Safety first. We started driving and I quickly noticed that we’re going in somewhat of a circle. We were obviously not heading for the highway towards Toronto. Out driver looked back. “Sorry guys, you see that white van following us? That’s an undercover cop.” Awesome. We continued to drive around downtown Montreal for a few minutes until our man at the wheel turned around once more to give us a bit more information. “That police unit will follow me until I get on the highway and then he’ll call the Ontario police and they’ll stop us. I’m going to try to lose him.” We drove around some more. He gave out more advice. “If he stops us, we’re going on a tour of downtown Montreal. Is anyone here not a Canadian citizen?” One girl timidly raised her hand. That can’t be a good thing. We did a bit more driving until finally getting right back to where we started. “Ok guys, I’m going to drop you off here. Go meet me at another metro station. If the cops stop you, they might try to scare you and say they can search your stuff. This isn’t true. If anything happens, just don’t say anything. When I stop the van, file out as quickly as possible and meet me at the other station. I’ll try my best to get you to Toronto.” We filed out and rushed into the metro. We quickly made our way to the other metro and waited for our driver. We wait about 20 minutes. Eventually, our wheelman showed up. He had a sad face, like he had let us down. “Sorry guys, I can’t leave this morning. They kept on following me and I couldn’t rent another vehicle. You’re on your own for now, but I’ll be heading out tonight, if you’re interested…”
Well, that complicated things.
Since we were at the bus station, I noticed there was a bus leaving for Toronto in 30 minutes. Great. Just enough time to buy a ticket and grab a seat! I went to the ticket counter. The tickets were 60$. This is for a ticket on Megabus, the allegedly discount bus line. The ticketlady told me they were cheaper online, so, being as I am, I quickly thought of way for me to buy it online. Then… Brilliant idea! The school library. I knew it was just a block away, tucked away somewhere between the buildings of downtown. Exactly where, I wasn’t sure. I ran to where I thought might be a good spot to look for it and wandered aimlessly for a few minutes. My bus was leaving in 20 minutes. Eventually, a student walked by, and I asked if she knew where the library was. By chance, she was on her way there too. I awkwardly followed her. Turns out the directions to the library are very clearly indicated. They started just around the corner from where I asked the girl for directions. I finally got to the library, loaded up my account with some money (I didn’t need an error message saying I had insufficient funds as I tried printing the tickets!) and rushed to the computer lab. 15 minutes left. I tippity-tapped my way on to the Megabus website and tried to find my ticket. Apparently Megabus doesn’t sell tickets for trips leaving in 15 minutes. Nuts! Buying an online ticket was impossible. I was cursed! I logged off the computer and ran back to the bus station. 10 minutes. I went back to the ticketlady and asked for a ticket. I cringed as I accepted the 60$ price tag for a seat, but at least I was on my way.
I sat in the bus for an hour before it actually left. Apparently they had engine problems, so we left late. I wasn’t impressed, but at least I was on my way to Toronto. 7 hours later (8 hours after the posted departure time), I rolled into the Toronto bus station and started having an awesome weekend.
On my way back to Montreal, I used the same rideshare guy. I got home safe and sound almost exactly 6 hours after we left (and it only cost me 30$!).