Night of the Living Baseheads (Fear and Loathing in South Burnaby Chapter 6)
It had been relatively quiet for the past two weeks at work - not uneventful mind you, but quiet. My comment to one tenant was that even zombified drug addicts must head down to the beach to kick back once and while. The weather has been good and the hassles have been few. It was 32˚ yesterday and not really that humid but sticky, which still makes the heat rather unpleasant. It also signaled a return of the local area drug addicts to site en masse.
I kicked out soooo many people from our stairwells - all of it crack and heroin use. Our parkade has six stairwells and they all get used at some point. I walked into one stairwell to find a guy and woman, early 20's, loading up the pipe with little piss white rocks. Next stairwell I find a guy prepping his heroin for smoking. A half hour earlier I found two 16 year olds getting ready to smoke h in one of our loading bays. One of our local scag hags may, unfortunately, be preggers. I am not an advocate of abortion, but in cases like this...
Other than that it was addict after addict wandering through and hassling people for change or attempting to steal from the shops. The Province, our local 30 second read of a rag, ran a story about BC communities under siege. Sounds dramatic and sensational, but it is true. The whole Lower Mainland has changed dramatically for the worst.
The Greater Vancouver Area of 1996 hardly compares to 2006 - it is grittier, dirtier and far more desperate. Part of it has to do with the the BC tourism's propaganda - the pictures of beaches, mountain and tree swept coastlines, Stanley Park, the carefully selected photos showing Vancouver as a clean, laidback metropolitan wonderland. Desperate people looking for something better come here and are sideswiped by an unsympathetic workforce riddled with crap jobs and little upward mobility, smacked down by oppressive rental rates and by an on-going provincial callousness towards our less fortunates.
And BC borns are not exempt from this by any means. We have had a tendency to look at all that "purdy" scenery too and get lost in, forgetting that it is our responsibility as well to try and figure out a way to get our communities cleaned up. Litter is a problem. In 1998, I remember talking with tourists from St. Louis who were so amazed at how clean Vancouver was compared to other places in North America. And it was true, though Vancouver was certainly not as tidy as it had been a decade or even four years previously. Eight years later and I think it is safe to say that we have caught up with the rest of North America. My fellow British Columbians need to face up to a sad fact, paradise is being ruined and it ain't getting better. We watch the litter pile up and say nothing, while tossing another wrapper, another coffee cup and another plastic bag on the ground. Spitting is becoming an epidemic - you can hardly walk around without seeing gooey pools of spittle everywhere. We let developers and our respective governments destroy our communities and living space all so they can line their pockets at our expense. When we do wake up to the fact of what has been going on, we bitch endlessly about how much things have been deteriorated and try to fight off initiatives that might actually help to curtail the situation.
Consecutive Provincial Governments have been shrugging off their responsibilities to amend this deplorable situation ever since the SoCreds hacked away at Mental health services in the 1980's. Many of our addicts and street peoples are in need of of psychological help in the least instances and madatory psychiatric care in the most extreme. Government after government has ignored a very real employment crisis in this province, refusing to acknowledge the very real loss of substantial jobs which have been replaced by disposibal employment at low wages with little to no opportunities or feasible futures.
Anyhow, this come a long way from my night at work, but it troubles me. A night like last night is troubling because it can only get worse from here. It gets worse because there or only half-steps being taken to try and deal with the very real trouble this province is in. People don't care unless (or until) it deals with "I, me, mine". Governments hack away at infrastructure to cut costs, but at the same time we are cutting own throats.
(at certain points of writing this entry, my friend Gavin - who should have been helping his wife to tuck in their kids - was singing and off key rendition of "Bloggin'" to the tune of Bob Marley's "Jammin'".)