Chat-GPT-Lea, here we come

“A gentle reminder” is what the subject line read. It was an email from our editor, Jane Auster. A dulcified reminder that my story deadline was fast-approaching and I’d better hop to it. So, I did what any self-respecting writer and Leaside High School student (my son, included) do at some point: I punched “ChatGPT” into my browser window. A few sentence-prompts later, I sat back on the bench and enjoyed my ice cream as my story began writing itself. Literally… (The italics, dear readers, are to distinguish my writing from my AI buddy’s.)

So there I was, sitting on a bench at the corner of Bayview Avenue and Millwood in Leaside, trying to come up with a story for a humour column in Leaside Life. I had an ice cream cone from Hollywood Gelato in one hand and my phone in the other, desperately typing away on ChatGPT, hoping for some inspiration. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the only thing more colourful than my gelato was the parade of characters passing by. It’s like a live-action soap opera, only with more dogs and fewer commercial breaks.

As I licked my gelato (a delightful mix of pistachio and chocolate), I watched a woman jog by with a stroller. She was wearing more athletic gear than the average Olympian, and I couldn’t help but marvel at the sheer volume of neon she was sporting. Her baby, who looked less than impressed, was probably wondering if they were going for a jog or participating in a high-visibility safety drill.

Further down the street, an elderly couple ambled along, arm in arm. They paused at the window of Epi Breads, pointing at the pastries like they were priceless works of art. I imagined them debating the merits of croissants versus danishes. In Leaside, these are the big decisions.

I couldn’t help but chuckle. Here I was, trying to write a humorous observational story, while living a humorous observational story. The irony was as thick as the scoop of gelato I was devouring.

A cyclist whizzed by, narrowly avoiding a collision with a man on a scooter. They exchanged glares that could curdle milk. In another part of the city, such an encounter might escalate into a shouting match, but here, it was all about the dirty looks. In Leaside, passive-aggression is practically an art form.

Just then, a group of teenagers strolled by, each glued to their phones. They were probably texting each other, despite being within arm’s reach. I wondered if they were using ChatGPT too, perhaps to come up with witty responses or decide which emoji best captured their teenage angst.

As I finished my gelato and my story, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of satisfaction. Leaside had provided all the material I needed, and then some. This little corner of Toronto was a goldmine of humour and humanity. I closed my laptop, took one last look around, and headed back to Hollywood Gelato for another scoop. After all, in Leaside, there’s always another story waiting to be told, and another flavour waiting to be tasted.

Hmm. A little one-dimensional? The meta angle is interesting. The “Leaside passive aggressiveness” is a bit below the belt, perhaps. I give it a C-plus. My job is safe, amirite? I think. For now. I just hope Jane likes it. By the way, did I mention you look nice today, Jane?

Readers, let us know if you think ChatGPT does a better job than a “real” writer. Email us at with your critique.

This article was guest contributed by David Crichton.