I was killing time during the 1 degree Celsius night on Broadway street. I had an hour to kill before my therapy session. Procrastination is a high suit amongst those of us weighed down by the heavy fog of depression...I was in no hurry to go and see my therapist. Bare my ugly heart, my broken spirit, my anguished mind...doesn't sound like a good time does it?
I hit Tim Hortons for a decaf...any excuse really.
This particular location has its share of interesting clientele and it seems as though the staff extend a fare share of grace to the, how do I say it...less desirable humans so long as they're civil. Its a refreshing change really.
I grabbed a small decaf and watched a very old woman meticulously fold what could have been close to 100 plastic shopping bags. She toted one of those shopping bags on wheels but in all honesty, her treasures to my untrained eye looked like trash. What do I know? I don't see with her eyes...
Upstairs, 3 young Asian men played a card game very loudly with lots of laughing.
Near the toilets, a woman was engrossed with her work on her laptop. A screen play I should think. Perhaps a novel...or a blog?
At the window reading a book sat an ambulance attendant. To his immediate left was a gray haired man with his face hidden in his folded arms resting on the counter. He looked eerily still to me, but I'm sure that the medic had it covered.
I bid the old bag woman fare well but it went un-noticed. Another night perhaps.
As I got to the pavement, I struck up a conversation with a guy that I noticed. He had just given a panhandler some change and continued to awkwardly maneuver a bike while balancing 3 six-packs of premium import lager. He was half cut and chatty and I thought it quite a skill.
John (I sense a theme here in my blogs perhaps) was cashing in his daily take at the local bottle return when a guy in a truck pulled up with as many as 60 dozen empties.
Apparently, so John said, buddy got fed up after unloading them and gave them to him to cash in. Quite a score I should think. John shouted over to two "friends" and shared the bounty. There's a lesson there in case you missed it...
John wanted just enough for 24 beers. Modesty in a world of desperation. Strange isn't it?
By the time I met John, he was 7 beers in and ready to weave a yarn or two. Snag is, I only had 20 minutes on the outside.
John freely shared a bit of his story that seems to echo unrelated around the streets and alleys of Vancouver all too frequently.
Had a home, spouse, kids, job...something went sideways suddenly. Unfortunately I didn't have the luxury of time but he did begin to sheepishly say that his "best friend" took him for all of his money and then his wife left him. That was 14 years ago and he hasn't seen any of his 4 kids in 7 years. Or was it 7 kids in 4 years? No matter to me really. Sad either way. He has a No Contact Order. Probably another yarn there.
I figure John to be crowding 50 but in that world, an at risk kind of lifestyle, its truly difficult to guess.
John spoke about how crime was escalating in "his turf" and got quite agitated as he told me what he had done to a guy he caught doing property crime. Whether or not that particular yarn was true, I could easily imagine John being quite capable of taking upon the task of judge, jury and sentence. His demeanor got meaner as he spoke about those "disrespecting bastards". He was getting even more elevated and all I could wonder was whether or not he was a nice calm man when sober.
Lots of people walked past us as we chatted. I could only guess by each expression and evident body language that each one probably had questions.
What are they chatting about? Why we were chatting? Are they friends?
I think I was just passing time and be neighbourly.
John had to bounce and so did I. He told me to find him again. He usually was around that Timmys he said assuredly. I extended my hand to shake his and said good night.
John called after me... Hey Lance, they know me as Frank over there...but its really John.
Must be another yarn...