Sunday, February 26, 2006

Homeless on the Range

CDs in Play: King Crimson, Starless and Bible Black

And to start the entry off with a trademarkedly me beginning...
As anyone who knows me knows, I do not like it hot. The downtown coffee shop I was at today was horrifically hot. Even the tiny little japanese waifs had to ask if the heat could turned down, which the staff said they were unable to do. There was only one thing for it, I went outside to have a seat and drink my coffee. Sitting outside is something I enjoy but it does have its annoyances.
Smokers are one such annoyance. I have no sympathy for their "plight". For years people like me (and I am prone to bronchitis) were forced to suck in their destructive habit against our wills in public spaces such as restuarants, clubs and bars. With public awareness on the increase about the hazards of smoking, the tide has turned against them and they have been forced outside. Frankly, I am eager for the day to arrive when they aren't able to smoke anywhere but in their own homes. Aww... who am I kidding? I look forward to the day when cigarettes are outlawed altogether.
Homeless people are another annoyance. (and often they ask me for cigarettes) I feel bad saying that, because not everyone on the street is there because they are lazy. Many of them have serious problems, need a hand-up - to be reminded that it is possible to get back up. It is the rude ones that get to me, like one guy today about forty five years old. He walks up to me abruptly and recites the following in an angry monotone voice:
"Sorry man, I'm unemploy..."
"Ah, fuck!"
He carries on to the next table.
"Excusemecouldyoupleasespareadollarso... Ah Fuck!"
Moves to the next table and is instantly waved off.
"Ah Fu..."
There were other variations of that over the next 40 minutes, some rude others just kind of sad. Vancouver really has become the playground for Canada's richest and poorest citizens. One guy came hobbling up with a pathetic look on his face, hand out and moaning. I shook my head and this shark-like look comes over his face as he quickly scans for someone he can put the touch to. Just as I am finishing my coffee, another homeless man came shuffling up to me. He was probably in his late 60's, maybe early 70's.
"Excuse me sir, do you know the poet Dylan Thomas?"
"Yes I do."
'What's that poem of his? Um... Do Not Go Gently... Into That... Into That... uh... Into That Bad Day?"
"Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night."
"You do know him!"
"Yup, he's a favourite of mine. Particularly
The Force That Through The Green Fuse Drives The Flower."
"Somebody stole my bicycle."
From there we had a not too short coversation about Thomas, Gerard Manley Hopkins and W.B. Yeats - with the occasional non-sequitor thrown in for good measure. He didn't want money, coffee, cigarettes or a new bicycle, he just wanted to talk poetry for a bit.
No real point to this, just a nice change of pace from the norm.


Blogger Thoth Harris said...

Oh, I do so agree about smoking. Although I have friends who smoke, and I do put up with it. But it really can turn me off, no doubt about it.

I have the same sort of shame crossed with vindication that you have about homeless people. I used to live in Montreal on the Plateau just off St. Laurent. I lived right where homeless people would drink, beg, etc. They would even do this in the doorway at the bottom of the steps of my building. One thing I cannot stand is people systematically blocking the doorways or a place I go into. Doorways are for letting people go through, go in, go out, not for drinking, not for sleeping, not for leaving fumes of hash smoke, not from drinking and puking, and not for talking. I hate doorway talkers. I really really really really do. I am sorry, but this thing makes me so mad I want to do something awful when I experience it. Magnus, my friend, Jason, who writes in is a genius about writing about such daily annoyance, although I am sometimes scared for his sanity. I don't know if he actually does some of the things he claims to do, or whether he just wants to do them. In any case, his blog is so funny it's scary!

Taiwan has more doorway-talkers than I've ever seen. And they don't move, even when there's a line of people trying to get in or out. The other thing I can't stand is the crowd-shuffler-who-won't budge-right-or-left even when there is someone walking the opposite direction. If you bump into them they cry out as if you've molested them or something. I hate mobs and crowds. Well, mostly. From a distance, they are beautiful. And in some settings they are nice, if civilized and possessing (common) [what? common? no, uncommon, and...don't get me started!] sense.

26 February, 2006 13:19  

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