The dawn cracks out its best as I walk to Whyte to catch the number 4 at 6:55am. The 8 southbound whistles by – one of the old orange seaters, the ones that are a dime-height away from obsolescence and retirement. Something feels right about seeing those old scows in the morning. Feels like it did way back. When I reach Whyte, a crowd of riders has gathered on the corner. Some early rising school kids who shiver in the morning chill, some steel toes with wraparound Oakleys straight out of 1987, and a few sharp ladies with painted toes and nice handbags. I have this walk timed perfectly. A few minutes ago, as I approached this scene, I watched the 106 scour westbound down Whyte. It’s been one of those new hybrid buses for the past few weeks. Then I get to the corner and take my survey. I look across the street. He’s there. That means I’m on time. Every day, I cross the street at precisely the same time as this guy. He walks south, I walk north. It’s uncanny. I’ve checked my watch and we’re always within seconds of each other. Without fail, when I’m halfway across the street he flops past in his vulcanized, pink-soled workboots – torn split leather across the toes. He wears old guy glasses, even though he isn’t that old (to my eye, anyways). Dingy cap and a gray lunchpail. Probably headed to the industrial parks of the south east. And I am headed to the industrial parks of the north west. Opposite ends of the city. Passing every morning. Connecting the city somehow. One day, a head nod may be in order. An acknowledgment between colleagues. Until then, we’ll pass with nary a recognizing glance.
Bus schedules, Westmount Transit Center, April 2007
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?