I’ll tell you what, folks get up early – I can’t even believe it. And just trying to keep up with them is about
enough to put your health in a bad mood, and you’d be lucky to ever get over it. I would never have
suspected it before I started dreaming about getting a job, as I spent most of my mornings and early
afternoons pondering over softer things like pillows and blankets. And then one day like the darndest
unexpected guest all of a sudden there it was knocking on my desires – the idea I might be of some use
to the work force. So I cleaned my body up and shaved my face and made good my intention to make a
great impression by setting the alarm for early morning. When that alarm flew off at nine I have to say I
expected to be the first person up by a couple of hours at least, securing me a career in greatness like
the city has rarely seen before. And as I’m sure you have come to understand with equal chagrin and
unhappiness – most businesses are already getting ready to close down for the night by then. So I had to
make a quick decision that would affect my future – I chose to set the alarm for eight. I shaved again,
washed a little less sincerely and when early morning came – it brought a whole lot of confusion with it.
How early does a person need to get up in this city to be considered earnest?
But I don’t intend to tell you about how I kept getting up earlier and earlier and kept washing less and
less thoroughly until finally I gave up on shaving completely and went back to believing there was no
way to be happy on earth unless you had a beard. I have something slightly more uplifting to say, I am
just setting the scene.
So then, a few days later, when my mood had started to slide, I began to despair I might not actually
have what it takes to get a job and make enough money to survive. I suspected I might very well succeed
in winning over some business owner with my grade A smile and no-nonsense handshake, but I was
tormented by the thought that I would eventually be called upon to eat my money in my mouth and
wake up and go to work and pretend I believed what I was doing made any sense whatsoever. In this
frame of mind I stood at the Main Street/Science World bus stop waiting for a bus, trying to understand
where everything had gone so terribly wrong when I noticed I was not the only person having dark
thoughts. Apparently there were a lot of folks thinking darkly. No busses came and as we waited, the
line growing all the while, the dark thoughts of the folks around me grew as well and I had to wonder if
the cause was existential or somehow transportational.
The bus finally floated up. As it pulled in and the crowd began to struggle for position in the line up, I
remembered why we had given up the earlier culture of simple pleasures - like sleeping in and living in
small communities and in caves. Namely – for the excitement of keeping close quarters with others.
Squeezing onto the bus I felt a great relief at the fact that I was not alone in my quest for rent money
and more meaning to life – there were many of us.
All of a sudden the bus driver, after loudly requesting that those already on the bus move all the way to
the back, closed the doors, leaving half of the crowd unhappy on the street. Someone even took the
event so close to heart that he threw his textbook at the window. But this didn’t faze the driver in the
least – he was a professional. He took off at a swift trot, sending another wave of excitement through
the tightly packed community of accidental friends as a fellow, not prepared for the burst of speed, lost
his balance, perhaps never having fully acquired it in the first place, and fell onto the pink furry backpack
of a student girl from another country. The girl took this event close to heart and began to cry, which in
turn the fellow took to heart, which he showed by saying out loud a number of expletives that would be
best described in numerical code, ‘####, %%%%, $$%$!!!!!’
After this folks calmed down for a while and spent the journey in relative ease, uninterrupted except for
the occasional passenger not understanding properly how to open the back doors, despairing loudly,
banging on the doors feverishly and becoming agitated. Then someone with a keener knowledge of the
system would yell, ‘back door,’ and the driver would open it and the despairing passenger would
disembark, taking his despair with him. And other than that the journey was peace itself, except for the
constant complaining of one fellow who kept exclaiming quite loudly, ‘we’re not sardines, we deserve a
life on land and not in a can, the government absolutely must buy more buses, one for each person, and
then we can all ride on our own buses completely alone, away from sorrow and sadness.’ This he
continually repeated, word for word, from which I gathered that he was an improbable type, and that he
must experience this scene with frequency, having worked his speech out to the word.
Now, none of this may seem overly worthy of mention if it weren’t for one more highly improbable
occurrence which struck me for its extravagance, especially for a country as unimposing as Canada.
What happened was this.
In the course of riding and listening to each other’s grunts of complaint and humbly bearing each step
on our toes or poke in the groin with an umbrella, or cries of agitation inspired by the complicated back
door exit system, one fellow came to the conclusion that he was being dealt a raw deal by not being
shown the proper respect and, seeking the proper outlet for his malcontent, fixed his attention upon an
elderly Asian woman. ‘Listen buddy,’ the fellow said, his eyes shining in perfect hatred, ‘don’t bother
being a buddy, just take up all the space you need, you’re the only person who has to go anywhere, eh?’
The rather meek looking woman clearly did not understand what he was saying.
So he repeated it one more time, and the fact that the woman yet again failed to understand him seemed to inflame his sense of right and wrong with burning coals and he shoved her aside, hissing like
a lost snake and moving towards the door. This made a few people feel uncomfortable, but nobody felt
brave enough to step in – you never know with those types, he could be seeing purple rabbits and giant
crocodiles as a result of having taken some narcotic drug that morning, and why chance it. At that
moment it struck me, however, that Canada is such a highly logical country, a veritable bastion that I
really ought to reason with the fellow and lead him to a knowledge of his error. So turning to the fellow I
said, ‘hey pal, what the heck are you doing? You just pushed a little Chinese lady?!’
To which he replied, ‘gobeldy goo,’ or in other words – something completely incomprehensible. The
only part of his speech that I understood was the punch he gave me in the face and the way nobody on
the bus hampered him from getting off at the next stop, which I believe to have been a complete
anomaly, because for the most part Vancouverites are very good citizens.
So that’s my Vancouver story. I found a job and get up so early I sometimes don’t bother hitting the sack
at all. What can you do? This is the way we live.