March 27, 2010
Today I’d like you to come along with me on my walk. Obviously I’m not typing and walking so this is more of an invite to come along as I mentally revisit my day.
It is 10:20 am, as I am locking the door behind me my neighbour Bill pokes his head out the door.
“Morin’ you on your way over for breakfast? he asks.”
“Rumor has it there might be pancakes, so I thought I’d check it out”.
Bill tells me they served pancakes on Wednesday but if they are, could I knock on his door when I get back and let him know. So I make a commitment to myself that if breakfast has pancakes or French toast (I’ve only seen that once in the 2 months I’ve been here) I’ll will take a pass on running my errands and come back to tell Bill what’s up.
Breakfast is the usual, ½ citrus or stewed prunes…choice of egg… ham or bacon or sausage…2 toast… hot or cold cereal… 2 beverages… all of this for $2. I always take the ½ citrus, not that I have anything against prunes, but I use the small bowl to cover my hot cereal. This works really well to keep the cream of wheat from forming a rubbery layer on top. Hard cooked egg, 3 links of burned sausage (I prefer it that way) If there is no burned sausage I can always get burned bacon. Brown toast, one 6oz glass of apple juice and one of milk which I use for my cereal. I dump a heaping tablespoon of brown sugar on the back of my tray and take exactly twice as many condiments as I need for this sitting. 2 pats of margarine, 2 blueberry jam, 2 pkgs sugar, 3 salt and 2 pepper. The extras I carry in my purse because often soup kitchens will serve bread dry and soup a little on the bland side… also I might run into someone else who needs such items. I take a seat near the windows and spend the next half hour eating and conversing with the gentleman across from me. The patron at the end of the table donated his ½ grapefruit which I put with my own into a baggie for tomorrows breakfast.As you may recall I first learned the joy of baggies when I was in Edmonton this past summer.
Just before I exit The 44, (Evelyn Saller Centre) the clouds clear and what was a warm pleasant day has become an absolutely beautiful day. In front of the building I see someone on their hands and knees struggling to get up. I ask if she needs any help. She tells me to “Fuck Off”… I respond with “Bite me Bitch” and we continue our separate ways. Two blocks up I round the corner onto Main Street, where the Main Rooms are located. It is a dingy residential hotel reminiscent of something from a Daschle Hammett novel… complete with a flashing neon sign. Today I notice something new… on the third floor south window at the front of the building is a flower box with 3 colourful tulip and crocus plants in full bloom. I’m too far away to tell if the plants are real or silk, but it doesn’t matter, it is enough to make me smile. I’m reminded of a story I once read,” The Greatest Miracle in the World” by Og Mandino. The old man had a window box where he was trying to grow geraniums, I don’t remember if they would not grow or if the story was set in winter but the lead character bought a glass geranium which they placed into the window box. I should give that book another read sometime.
A block up, the street church (every city has one) is handing out loaves of old bread, cups of soup and religious pamphlets. I’m stopped by a familiar face, a young man from Calgary who was a bit surprised that I had made it this far. We spent a few minutes catching up. Then I ran into my breakfast buddy from the shelter, we took a pass on the customary hug since he was in the company of a lady. ;-) Now I am on my way back from the grocery store. Had to pick up some instant oatmeal for late night hunger pangs. I decide to take Hasting Street back, maybe I can find a cheap toaster at the pawn shop… LOL you must be kidding $15. OOOH what have we here… some organization has a table set up and we are lining up for baked potatoes with real butter, sour cream and grated cheese mmmmm. Most of the meals at 44 end up being served with rice and gravy… they don’t call this place Hongcouver for nothing. The nice gentleman at the table packages my potato to go. I place it in the bag on top of my box of oatmeal and continue down the street. A couple blocks down I’m checking out the street vendors as I pass, still hoping to score a toaster. A man walks through the crowd with pamphlets asking “would you like to hear about Jesus?” I resist the temptation follow him around asking if he’d like to hear about Buddha…LOL.
From here I go back to my room, stopping occasionally along the way to chat up the locals and share pleasantries. Hope you enjoyed our little outing and perhaps we will do it again sometime.