Blue Notes


Going metro

  • Mina Bark was assaulted by a Metro worker.
    Mina Bark was assaulted by a Metro worker.
    Photo credit:

There are more and more stories about people “going metro.”

Back in my day, Americans had an expression that described someone who had lost their cool and struck out at the world in a violent way. It was called “going postal.” It had been spawned by the seemingly unending stories about U.S. postal workers walking into their workplace and shooting people they didn’t like. Between 1986 and 1997, more than 40 people were murdered in 20 separate incidents.

Why postal workers became famous for this behaviour, I am not sure. But in spite of the fact that the U.S. postal service only accounted for one per cent of the workforce, it accounted for 13 per cent of workplace homicides.

The phrase soon migrated into English slang to include more than just postal workers. Now anyone who looses their cool and goes on a rampage is “going postal.”

Recently in Quebec there has been a spate of violent incidents. Not as violent as the Americans, of course, but unsettling none the less. People have been losing their cool and berating others for personal or social reasons they do not seem to be able to control.

Many of my friends feel that there has been an increase in tensions in our city since the provincial election. Indeed, it would not be surprising given the divisive campaign that was waged by the new provincial government.

But for some reason many of these confrontations have taken place in the metro – our subway system.

In June a minister was told by Metro employees that they don’t serve English people.

Then there was the well publicized instance of a metro worker putting up a sign to proclaim that he was not about to speak English.

But in the latest incident a worker actually came out of her booth and physically attacked a lady who had been speaking to her in English. She was punched and told to “Go back to her country.”

So I think it is time we can add the phrase “Going metro” to describe these incidents.

They can also be applied to other instances in which a unionized city employee or even a ordinary citizen loses his or her cool. The behaviour of the infamous police officer #728 who was suspended after a profane tirade comes to mind.

There were other language altercations. For instance, the tomato sandwich attack in the Jewish General Hospital.

A teen was attacked in St-Leonard.

And the famous YouTube video of a man berating people for speaking English on a Montreal street that went viral.

All over town, people have been “going metro.”

One comment

  1. As if things weren’t bad enough in this province. They talk about tourist coming here for the culture, but when they get here I guess this is what they will be greeted with. Mr. Rotrand says that the OLF or Bill 101 leaves no wiggle room when it comes to the language issue but all the cases stated here are pure examples of bad behavior. We want to promote our Quebec culture, not tell the rest of the world we have none.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>