On the 106, certain things change more often than others. The guy with the white ‘phones and green hoodie? He never changes. A Nalgene hangs off his pack and he’s always clutching a large Tim’s. I could set my watch to that guy’s head bobbing into faint sleep every morning at 7:17am. The business woman with the great shoes? I figure she’s got four work outfits that provide several permutations. On Fridays, she always wears the same dirty flats and the same pair of faded 521’s. The straight-haired girl with the overbite who never says boo? I know the exact temperature at which she dons a toque. Minus 14. Despite all these predictables, this morning holds some change. New driver on the 106 line. The previous driver was a crotchety cuss who didn’t say shit to me for two months. One day last week, out of the blue, he actually threw me a “Mornin’.” It was a big step.
This new steerer seems OK. Young and not yet jaded. Must not have drawn his share of Junior High routes yet. Gives me a cheerful “Good Morning!” in a tone that is downright ungodly at this hour. I throw him a pre-coffee croak, head for the back – standing room only. He’s one of those drivers that wishes everyone a nice day as they exit the rig. Some days that’s cool. Today I’m about a penny-height away from falling asleep while leaning and I don’t care. Stops roll by and more nice days are wished. All the students file out and it’s “have a nice day” all around. I’m off a few stops later, and the guy says his piece. I stop in the doorway for a sec and look at him in the mirror. Minus 20 air rolls in. Some mornings, I can’t brook the nice day shit. Maybe I need it today. Maybe this new guy knows something I don’t. I’m tryin, man, I’m tryin.
Parking lot from the High Level, Jan 07
StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.
The city is Edmonton. It's a subject, not a passion. E-Town is almost universally derided by outsiders as an unlivable tundra wasteland populated by oil-hungry redneck conservatives who despise the arts. All of that is true. But it's not the whole story. There is beauty here. Dusty snowfalls. Brilliant summers. A stunning river valley. A diverse arts community that flourishes. It's a place that inspires a gray relationship - not all good, not all shitty. For that reason alone it is lovable, for what is life but a grayscale?