Something very annoying just happened before. At around 1:30 p.m. I went to the shopping centre near my house. It is not too far away, but the trip includes going through a tunnel – an underpass, over which trains can cross – and which necessitates a downhill-and-then-uphill trek. Good exercise, I know. But today…
Today when I began the walk that would lead down into the underpass, I came to a “Detour” sign across the sidewalk which also said “Trottoir bloqué” (blocked sidewalk).
However, I’ve seen the same sign there before, and everyone ignores it. You can just go around it on either side, since it doesn’t block off the sidewalk completely. In fact, typically in our fair city of Montreal, you often will see such signs, or construction cones and the like, while absolutely nothing constructive is happening, and no workers are in sight. We joke about it, with lots of eye rolls.
Today I did notice some workers milling about, but they were up on top, level with the train tracks, not down in the underpass where I was walking. Anyway, I reached the shopping centre uneventfully. The problem occurred on my way home, about 45 minutes later.
I again went around a “Trottoir bloqué” sign and continued down the hill of the underpass. Several hardhatted workers approached me and said in French that I could not go forward that way. I said, Oh, but I just came that way a short time ago. I just live over there, I said, pointing. They refused, and kept repeating that it was “bloqué.” I looked ahead but didn’t see anything. They insisted that it was fenced off (with a “clôture“). When I asked them how on earth I could get home then, they gestured across the tunnel and said I had to go around.
Now this was really frustrating. I was no more than 200 feet or so from the other end of the underpass. So near and yet so far! I kept arguing, even playing my MS card, saying I had trouble walking long distances, and to make me go back two blocks and then alllll around was, well, not good! They stood their ground, refusing to let me pass. I asked who was responsible for this. They said the “City of Cote St. Luc.” I said fine!
I retraced my steps back up the rise and sat on a bench, dialing the City of Cote St. Luc’s Public Works department on my cell phone. I spoke to a very unsympathetic woman who wouldn’t budge. She insisted it must be unsafe to walk back that way, it’s blocked for a reason, you have to go around on the other side. Grrrr. I told her Fine, I’ll take a taxi and send the bill to the City. She said You do what you have to do!
But at that point I knew I was defeated. Calling the mayor would’ve been the next step but I realized it simply wasn’t worth it. I started to trudge home the long way around. When I was half-way home, I looked across the street to the “blocked” side and watched in disbelief as three people, separately, strolled down the underpass’s sidewalk unimpeded, going around the detour signs as I had wanted to do. No workman was around to stop them! They arrived at the end that I’d been told was “fenced off” and simply skirted around it.
When I was three-quarters of the way home, the heavens opened and it began to pour. A fitting end to a frustrating little journey.