Another day, another missive from Anna Smith, this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent. She writes:
I had a half hour appointment with my pharmacist today. She writes articles and wins awards and has me speak one-on-one to her foreign students, to get them grounded in reality.
I will walk in there and she will herd a student into her office, saying: “Monica, this is Anna. Go into the office and talk to her.”
Then the student will practise on me, asking if I know the side effects of the drugs and I tell them wild stories about my life in a friendly way so that, in future, they are not too shocked when they have to deal with comedians or mentally ill people or strippers…
Anna also told me about two encounters in Vancouver this week.
On the Main Street bus. I got in through the back door and, towards the front of the bus, I found a seat. A scavenger man and I silently fought for space.
I moved my new shopping buggy to make room for him. He had a larger wire cart, with filthy orange coloured paint peeling off in chips and odd dirty bits of stuff attached to it. He glared at me a bit and settled in. Then he gave a growl of recognition.
Another grimy old man, seemingly assembled from globs of grey fabric, lifted his skinny head. His eyes looked like shiny, over-boiled eggs.
“Wher ‘ev ya been? In jail again?”
“Did you find a place to stay yet?”
“Percy House, down Cordova.”
“That’s a good place. Lucky you got in there. You heading there now,then?”
“Well, if they kick you out, you can always go stay with your wife. She would have to take you! Hahahahaha…”
“Well, I’m off to buy my dope now. Two hundred dollars a week.”
I got off the bus at Main and Hastings and slipped through the usual crowds. A big woman was hawking cigarettes right at the corner.
After my music class, I waited for the bus downtown. A native guy with a gleaming face, his hair in a long ponytail, stopped his bicycle right in front of me. He had a small turquoise teardrop tattoo under one eye.
“Hello,” he said to me.
“I’m a thief.”
“Really? What do you steal?”
“Good,” I told him. “When I can, I buy stolen Parmesan Reggio outside the Pennsylvania Hotel.”
“I make $180 by noon every day,” said the man. “I sell mild, medium and extra strong. Can I meet you sometime? Where do you hang out?”
“I take a music class at the Carnegie Centre,” I told him. “For women,” I added. “You should come see one of our shows. It’s called Women Rock.”
“I’m just on my way to buy some now,” said the man.
“Rock,” he said. “I’m a bit drunk.”
“That’s OK,” I said. “Here comes my bus.”
And he was gone.