2015 Garlic Story Contest – 2nd Place

A Seat on the Streetcar

by Linda Boyko


It is the evening rush hour in Toronto. There has been no streetcar on this route for the past 10 minutes. As you peer down the road, wishing that the vehicle would come, you catch a glimpse of red and yellow. Could it possibly be that a streetcar is FINALLY on its way?

Hurrah – it is a streetcar. As it approaches the stop people step out onto the street. You move closer to the open doors hoping there will be enough room for you to board. At the last minute the person ahead of you turns and goes back to the curb. Thanks to her decision you are able to squeeze onboard. The doors close behind you and you are on your way home.

Looking down the car you notice an empty seat. How could there possibly be an empty seat on a packed streetcar? You start edging down the car – excusing yourself as you aim for that empty seat. As you get nearer you think “the man sitting there looks familiar”. He looks up, sees you and smiles. You smile back – it is your grandfather. Finally you manage to make it down the car and sit in the empty seat.

“Hi Dede” you greet him with a kiss on the cheek. (As a youngster you were unable to pronounce the Ukrainian word for grandfather, Guido, so you called him Dede- the name stuck all through the years). “Hi Linduskha” he replies. Now you know why the seat was empty. The waft of garlic breath hits you. You smile to yourself – after all – it’s only garlic.

Years later, while in his late 80s, my grandfather would work his vegetable garden. Every October he would carefully prepare the patch and plant next year’s garlic crop using cloves from garlic he had the year before. My grandfather has been gone almost 40 years now but every year, as I plant my own patch of garlic, I chuckle as I think of Dede and that day on the streetcar when I managed to score a seat on a crowded streetcar.