Sunday, February 03, 2008

Freaks on the bus and parrots in the supermarket

I had a couple of "only in Vancouver" moments this week.

The first happened on the city's great traveling sideshow, where $2.50 gets you a front-row seat to the theatrics of some of Vancouver's most colourful characters (more commonly known as "the bus").

The following went down on the #4 bus heading south on Howe Street . . . in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday.

As I boarded the bus, I was greeted by a very drunk man hanging off the pole beside the driver. Even though the bus wasn't moving, he was having trouble keeping his balance. He lurched forward as I tried to squeeze past him. He smiled and mumbled something incoherent, spewing noxious booze fumes in my face. The man was hammered but harmless.

I sat near the back of the bus and watched as the drunk guy tried to strike up a conversation with the driver. I was too far back to hear what he was saying. About five minutes into the trip, the drunk guy decided he wanted to get off the bus and dinged the bell.

The driver stopped the bus and let him out the front door. Mistaking it for a proper stop, a guy standing in the stairwell at the back of the bus frantically tried to open the rear door. As the bus lurched forward, the guy at the back door started yelling because the driver hadn't let him off.

The driver yelled back, "It's not a stop!"

"You let the other guy off!" the bus rider said.

"He's drunk," the driver explained.

Instead of calming the man down, this sent him over the edge.


The tone of his voice verged on rage.


He looked around for support but everyone on the bus remained silent. No one would even make eye contact with the guy. He stood in the back stairwell cursing and ranting about discrimination against non-drunk, non-homeless people until the driver let him off at the next stop.

This week's second "only in Vancouver" moment happened at the Safeway on 4th yesterday morning.

There was a guy walking around the produce section, just going about his normal grocery shopping. There was absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about him . . . except for the large parrot sitting on his right shoulder.

The parrot was sitting on a navy blue towel the guy had draped over his shoulder so that the bird could crap whenever it liked.

I couldn't stop staring at him. No one else seemed fazed by the fact that there was a man walking around the grocery store with a dirty, shitty bird on his shoulder.

Only in Vancouver . . .

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