Monday, January 7, 2008

all that for this?

I live in a condo. I try to be environmentally conscious. A friend suggested we visit an an environmentally-friendly condo exhibit yesterday afternoon and I was excited.

Now, we should have known things weren't going to go well when we tried to find the exhibit's opening hours and couldn't find anything anywhere--on their website, on google, written in the sky. Nada. Still, it sounded great, and we figured it would probably be open at a minimum from noon to 3pm.

We also figured it would be wrong to drive to the environmentally-friendly condo exhibit. Well, it was too far to walk, it was too yucky outside to bike, so public transit was the winner. I don't manage to take transit very often, and it turned into a comedy of errors. First, my friend's subway was delayed and I waited for a good half hour. Then we took a subway, went to get on our streetcar and discovered a track diversion. So we took one bus, then transfered to another one, which had to go out of service, then transferred to another.

It's not so much that it took us forever to get to the exhibit; I would say it's more that we had all that time to build up our expectations. The website promised practical tips and experts who would lead us on "a comprehensive tour" (not my words). By the time we got there, we were pretty darn pumped.

The exhibit's opening hours were posted on the exterior doors. Woohoo, I thought, we actually arrived at the right time. All cocky now, I went to open the door. Locked. I swear my friend almost broke out into tears. I got belligerent and actually started yelling. Random stuff. I do that sometimes. Not often.

After a bit of that, the door swung toward us, propped open by some kid from the inside. "Are you here for the condo exhibit?" he asked, incredulously. When we told him that we were, he got all excited. "You're the first people to come all weekend!" he said. Uh oh.

The "comprehensive tour" was actually us walking through the exhibit, with our friend, who was about 14, following us closely. I'm not sure if he was worried we'd rip off an environmentally-friendly appliance, or whether he was just so happy to have human contact that he'd follow anyone or thing that radiated heat, but it was a bit disconcerting. And he didn't seem to actually know anything about the exhibit. I asked a question and he responded with, "Oh, I don't know, they didn't actually give me any information or anything." Twice I mentioned, rather pointedly, that there were some issues with the exhibit--first, all the plants in the "solarium" were two weeks past any signs of life, and second, the decorative bowl in the kitchen was full of rotten mandarin oranges--and neither time did he seem to think that this kind of basic maintenance was his responsibility.

It took us about 15 minutes, maximum, to get through the exhibit. And, you know, it actually wasn't so bad. There were some pretty cool things inside. But we left with nothing in hand, because despite all the sponsors and suppliers involved in this thing, there wasn't a single brochure or piece of paper or even a board with tips or ways to get more information or take action. After visiting such a poorly organized exhibit I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to discover that it offered no tools for visitors.

Bitter, we started our ridiculously long transit ride home. The whole afternoon was such a disappointment I actually wanted to do something incredibly environmentally unfriendly, just out of spite.

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