Almost daily I stumble upon a scene that makes me say to myself, what the fuckin’ hell??? The other day I was up with the robins and the workadays on my way to the meat factory. Nothing too out of the ordinary until I hit the bus shelter. Remnants of food strewn everywhere, like someone had just robbed a grocery truck and then had a seizure on the floor of the shelter. Diced peaches slopped against the window. About a hundred toothpicks on the ground. Several different kinds of lunch meat busted out of packages and thrown to the ground. Empty bag of Sun Chips. And a book of burnt matches thrown in for good measure. Was this fucker sandwich-challenged, I asked myself. I imagine the brains on CSI would have a good, well-researched explanation for this scene, but as an astute observer of the human condition as it relates to urban dwelling, here’s my take:
Man walks into Safeway with a half sack in the gulliver. Blasted jeans, new-ish shoe leather and a poly-cotton collar shirt. He’s feeling pretty spry for a Monday night. Spends a good twenty minutes in the produce section trying to pronounce “pomegranate”. Walks by the meat counter. Contemplates a little sidewalk tartar but passes on it. Sways when he picks up a 2 litre Coke. Grabs a couple packs of meat from the Deli counter – one pepperoni, one ham. Stumbles over to the chip aisle. Spends a few minutes teeing up the blonde in the tight blues and yellow t-shirt. Remembers he needs fruit. Balanced diet and all that bollocks. Grabs a four pack of peach cups – in light syrup. Grabs a box of mint flavoured toothpicks. Dental hygiene and all that shit. Slams it all down on the checkout, grabs a Journal and pays cash. Mumbles to the cashier, maybe comments that she looks good in that black and red tunic. Outside, the Sun crashes red into the West End and he wanders to the bus shelter. Sits down and rips it up like there’s no tomorrow. Demolishes the pepperoni first, then the other shit. Starts on the peaches, decides they suck, slams ‘em to the window. Bus creeps in from the east. Can’t eat the rest. Deposits it for tomorrow’s vultures. Gets on the 4 stinking like fatty pepperoni and 5-buck-a-six beer. Home to another half sack and another Thursday “sick day”. Next day, 4 regular Gravel walks up and the detritus tells the story.
Then again, maybe not.
This vignette is the 200th entry on StreetRag. My heartfelt thanks to everyone for reading and commenting. I dearly hope that you enjoy what you read here – I dearly love writing for this site. Stay tuned for the StreetRag podcast. It’s launching in October. I hope that it’ll add a new dimension to the site.
May the waves crash high as we laugh from the shore,
Bus shelter mess, Bonnie Doon, Edmonton, May 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?