Thursday, September 11, 2008

Toronto - Ten Months In

Fast forward 10 months. I’ve landed the job I needed to feed the family. It’s a night shift but that’s fine with me. The way I look at it is this. On the days shift you are one of maybe ten shooters. You may be at City Hall or at a Fundraiser and when the big crime story breaks, you might get assigned if you’re close to the scene. The night is mine. I get all the big stories as long as they happen at night. No traffic hassles and no line-up at the drive-thru. Finding a clean washroom can be a bigger challenge.

I think I’ve proven myself to my new employer. I’ve showed up in the morning with the story that matters. The Queen St. fire was huge. I think it made them realize that it was worth having someone out overnight. When the ETF rounded up the gang members from MS-13 I was there. When the Superior Propane factory exploded I was there. When the truck veered off the 401 and into the bridge I was there. If you look up and see me looking at you through my camera, you might be having a bad night.

I often think about how much the city has changed since I last worked here in 1994. The boonies are now the city. The roads are even more congested. The house prices are ridiculous. A cop told me that Brampton is the new Jane and Finch. I’ve been to Brampton too many times since my return. They are having a record year in Peel for murders, but Toronto seems to be doing a pretty good job of keeping up. Too many guns on the street these days. I covered a teenager who was shot in the chest for his bicycle in Scarborough the other night. It didn’t make the news. Too many more serious things happening and there’s an election don’t you know.

I hear the calls every night. Another robbery just occurred. Three young men with guns just robbed the convenience store clerk. Night cashier must be one of the most dangerous jobs in Toronto. Alaskan crab fishermen have nothing on these guys. If you want to experience crime first hand just get a job in a corner store after dark. These stories don’t even make the news anymore. Nobody cares.

The last few nights have been crazy. Monday I started early and went straight to the scene on a murder at Weston Rd. and Finch. A young woman found stabbed to death in her apartment. We had another one of these last week. That one was a Chinese student who was found tied to a chair in her Talara Dr. apartment. She had placed an ad on-line for a roommate. Where they related? Probably not, just strangely similar from this side of the crime tape.

The weeks not over but I’ve been to a few fires, two shootings and two fatal accidents. The day shift guys have been busy too. First they get a bus stop shooting near Keele and Eglinton and the next day a guy gets tossed from a car on the 401 near Keele. They both lived in the same neighbourhood, now they are both gone. Two more young black men dead at the end of a gun.

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