Wednesday, December 17, 2008


It's snowing right now. Has been all day, and probably most of last night. It doesn't normally snow down here (and when it does, almost never this much).

I hate snow.

I mean, there isn't really any time of year then I am comfortable with the climate, but spring is the only season that comes close. Winter is as far off the mark as you can get.

In downtown Vancouver, the presence of snow turns normally awful, ignorant drivers into a bunch of slipping, sliding, red-light-running, demolision derby contestants. If you thought your life was endangered in the rain while crossing the street (and it is, make no mistake), be aware that snowy, icy roads means now your life is also in danger on the sidewalk. And probably even in any shop or home that it situated streetside. If you work at a Starbucks on Granville street (or plan on getting your coffee there), I suggest you remain as far from the front doors as possible at all times. Try and put a few other customers between you and the windows - that way any shattering glass will impale them first, and any out-of-control cars careening through the storefront will plow into them, giving you something soft to bounce off of, if necessary.

But I digress.

My apartment is very cold. The bedroom is small, so the baseboard heater keeps it comfortable, but as soon as you walk out into the main area, it's like getting slapped in the face (and genitals) with a garbage bag filled with bricks of ice. My living room has a vaulted ceiling, and the master bedroom is off the loft upstairs. I have a huge bay window in the living room - single pane glass - which is roughly as effective at retaining heat as the vacuum of space.

I expect the outisde to be cold. That's why I try to avoid it at all costs. All I want is my tv, my computer, and enough fresh coffee to last me until the apocalypse (which, judging by the people I encounter when I do venture out, should be somewhere around the middle of next week).

But I need heat, too. I expect the interior of my fortress of solitude to be warm enough that I can walk around in my underwear without worrying that my manhood is going to withdraw all the way into my body in order to keep warm. And yet my first go at owning my own home has betrayed me (on many, many occasions beyond the heating issue).

Worst of all? My heating bills are enormous, and there is no indication that that money has been well spent!

Comedian Steven Wright said "I've never seen electricity, so I don't pay for it. I write right on the bill, 'I'm sorry, I haven't seen it all month'." This is how I feel. I want to send my electricity bills back with a note explaining that as soon as the electricity does what it's supposed to, I'll be more than happy to pay for it. Until then, please send matches and firewood. I need to start a fire in my living room so I can thaw out my crotch.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Walking Downtown

I live within reasonable walking distance of my workplace. It takes me about 15 minutes to get to work in the morning, the same to get home.

This means that for roughly thirty minutes a day, five days a week, I am entrusting my life to Vancouver drivers.

Now, everyone in every city says that they have the worst drivers ever. I'm not saying that. What I am saying, however, is that Vancouver drivers are inconsiderate, oblivious, and just plain dangerous creatures that should not, under any circumstances, be responsible for 3000 pounds of metal moving at 50 kilometers per hour on wet streets.

I'm a considerate pedestrian. When I'm trying to get past a car that's stopped in my path, I walk behind the car instead of in front of it. I don't cross the street unless the sign shows a little a little walking man image. I look both ways. In spite of these precautions, I regularly find myself rubbing elbows with Death and telling him to push back my appointment to another time.

The light is red. I'm walking out into the intersection. You don't even make an attempt to slow or stop your BMW, and I have to jump back or be killed.

I'm in the middle of the street. You're turning left and clearly do not see me. I have to jump out of your path or be killed. And then, only when I have averted disaster without your assistance, then you slam on the brakes, give me an emabarassed glance and shrug your shoulders. "Oops! Almost drove over you in my SUV! Sorry! Ha ha ha!" Right! Oh, you're embarassed! Imagine how embarassed I would be if I was splashed across your windshield?

But the madness doesn't stop there, oh no. I live in a city where a yellow light doesn't mean 'slow down', it means 'drive as fast as you can to get through it, then get another 4 or 5 through after it turns red'! I live in a city where making a right hand turn on a red light means checking for traffic on your left, but never, under any circumstance, for any reason, checking for pedestrians on your right. And why not? Because that's where I am. And every day drivers are making me feel like my need to cross the street is a major obstacle in their attempt to attain their destiny.

But I can't win. Even my attempts to be considerate to the wheel-spinning sociopaths navigating Vancouver's absurd downtown infrastructure put me at risk.

A car is trying to turn left onto a one way street. I walk behind the car. This is an act of self-preservation more than anything. As I get behind the car, the reverse lights come on and the car backs up (to pose less of an obstacle to cars who have the right of way, I presume). Again, my acrobatic skills (which are nil) are my only hope for survival. The bruised knee and the limp all the way home speak for themselves.

Once, several years ago, in another city, I watched out the window of my workplace as a woman got into her car, popped it into reverse and floored it. She hit a girl who was about to enter the store and tossed her like a ragdoll a good 15 feet. The driver was apologetic and humiliated. None of my brushes with death have included an apology.

I'm gambling with my life on these streets.

What a great world this would be if I was the only one on it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Rain

I live in Vancouver and I love the rain.

You have to love the rain if you live in Vancouver, because we get so much of it all year round. I also work and live downtown, which means I don't drive much. I walk everywhere. You really have to love the rain when you walk everywhere.

I hate other people, however. And nothing spoils my love of the rain faster than other people.

You see, when the first drop of rain falls, everone in the streets whips out an umbrella and shields themselves with it (except, of course, the people who are already hiding under umbrellas in anticipation of rain).

Under their umbrellas, everyone suddenly becomes an oblivious, inconsiderate asshole. They have no peripheral vision, and display no concern for people trying to get past them. They ignore the fact that they are walking three abreast, occupying the entire width of the sidewalk, despite similarly oblivious pedestrians walking directly at them. They don't seem to give a damn that by opening their umbrellas they have effectively doubled the area they occupy.

Now, I'm of above average height. At six-two, that puts my eyeline exactly level with the spikes on the edges of most people's umbrellas. I also walk fast. My long legs just don't let me move slowly. I don't go outside unless I have somewhere to go, and when I want to go somewhere I do not take my sweet-ass time. That means when I get stuck behind a clutch of slow moving umbrella-wielders, I want to get by. Immediately.

So I try to sneak past on the left - nope, that person didn't see me and sidestepped left, cutting me off. Those spikes came close enough that I think I left an eyelash stuck to one. So I try the right, but someone walking towards us barges past, almost pushing me out of the way. Am I invisible? What the hell is going on here? Finally, I spot an opening. I surge forward, fake left, and then jog right, putting a parking meter between me and another umbrella-holder. Am I free?

Not a chance. Ahead of me is a sea of umbrellas, metal spikes glistening in the rain. My left eye twitches. And I think (not for the first time, oh no) how wonderful this city would be...if I was the only one in it.