Since I was about 5, I've understood the gloomy preminition that Vancouver lies timidly flirting with sea level awaiting "the big one" to shake some of her municipalities from their foundations of terra nova into a wet grave. A rather catastrophic earthquake is always on tonight's menu and for decades we've had lots of foreplay leading up to the great date that everyone will talk about.
Fortunately, up to now, the dish hasn't been available...but damn we wait!
Shelter is the issue. Bugger the Government, I fear we'll all be on our own so its best to make a plan now. Get a kit, get an evacuation plan, get a meeting place. (remember to vote)
Anyhoo, I went for a walk tonight around East Van with a crappy little cigar and a small sized bottled of beer, which incidentally, I opened with a tube of lip balm that my niece made by hand.
So I wandered in exactly the wrong direction of the nearest pub. My wife had a mate over and they were practising music for their upcoming Translink busking zone gigs (a big deal in Vancouver) so I wanted to give them space.
As I walked about, it was evident that Vancouver is feeling the beginning stages of the spiteful exhales of seasonal Yukon breath. We're not used to this, ya Northern bully! We're at sea level down here and we're delicate!
Due East, the prairies often get stupid cold winters, but they're around 3400 feet above the sea, we sit at the Ocean's humid mercy, and that cold air doesn't just flirt with your body...it skips foreplay and gets straight in there!
I've lived on the prairies and HATED the long cold winters, but I'm here to tell you that -6C at sea level is easily crowding -12C or better on the flat lands of Canada. The polar bear swim separates the men from the boys in a very visual way! I love that swim!
Anyhoo, there I was, strutting up Fraser St. in a grand ol' mood in search of a cheap pint. The Canadian Legion which by fate is mere blocks from my home seemed like the best bet but it was shut. I guess the old vets were in bed. (I shouldn't admit that I tried doors and windows, but I wanted a pint)
Seems like I'm rambling don't it? Go grab a cup of tea...I'll wait.
Ok, I'm back. I just chased 3 coyotes down the street in my boxers...cold out there but I had the fear for neighbourhood pets.
So anyway, I'm walking up Fraser heading towards that Legion and I passed by a bank. Inside the automated bank area I saw a scruffy man of about 60 with a bindle and a trash bag possibly containing a sleeping bag. He was seemingly in a trance. I guessed that he was cheating the cold.
The Legion was shut...I had about $7 coffee change (yup, spare coffee change) so I thought I'd give it to the guy if he was still there.
He was there, I went in and offered him the money. Here's the convo:
Excuse me sir, I have some extra coins, may I give them to you?
Oh shit, I'm in your way, I'll leave.
No you're not. Be still friend, I have some coins for you. (shaking them in my hand for emphasis)
I'm fucking leaving! I'm fucking leaving!
Please sir, I have a few coins for you. It's extra, I'd like you to have it.
Don't fucking talk to me. I'm leaving. Leave me alone!
He angrily left the warmth of the bank and I stood there awkwardly staring at the change in my hand feeling like a complete and utter failure. I pissed off a guy living rough.
He skulked up Fraser, j-walked in front of a bus and ran into another warm banking area.
I chose to quickly walk past as my change weighed heavily in my pocket, not unlike the chains dragging down Jacob Marley. Talk about a buzz kill.
He has no bed. No crust. Perhaps no sense. I was on my way home to a warm bed and a warmer wife.
Life isn't fair.
So here I am at home. It's about 12 degrees C in here, I have a glass of wine and another human that adores me. I must admit I have pangs of guilt at leaving that man at the bank. But as my other homeless friends have told me, they own nothing, therefore they have nothing to lose. They don't fear the big earthquake, or floods, or cold of winter. I wonder who is truly free?