The Nine Northbound.

March 3, 2006

Although the bus I’m on is one of those super-long models, the ones with a 100+ person capacity, I find myself standing despite the availability of seats. I’m only heading downtown – I’ll be off in ten minutes. I take a gander around the #9 N-bound. Seems like it’s a good day for freaks and eccentrics on here. Then again, it’s always a good day for that.

The first to catch my eye is the woman with the red shopping cart and the pizza box. No pizza in it – otherwise I’d smell it. Trust me; I can smell pizza from twenty blocks off. What makes the scene weirder is that she’s wearing purple sweats and she’s got a rosary taped to the box. I know that JC was a hip dude and all, but with him being a bread and wine kinda guy, I’m thinking that he probably wouldn’t like pizza. Then again, I could be wrong.

Near the back is a man holding a rabbit in a cage. He seems indifferent to the rodent. Perhaps he is on his way to have the rabbit put down. Perhaps he loves that rabbit and is taking it for a checkup. Perhaps he is taking it to be professionally dressed before he eats it. Perhaps he’ll have rabbit stew and rabbit filets tonight.

The guy with the white gloves is on this bus. I’ve seen this guy before. Wears white gloves similar to what a high-end waiter would wear. This guy wears them year-round, and I have yet to figure out why. Maybe he likes the look of them. Maybe he is a high-end waiter and he’s just fond of the uniform. Very odd.

And last but not least we have CARPET MAN, a guy whose winter coat consists of a length of discarded berber tied around his waist with yellow twine. In my humble opinion, this guy is a TRUE rebel. How many of us would have the nuts to wear a piece of carpet in public? And not just any carpet either, but a light-blue, almost azure toned model c/w barely discernable remnants of underlay. Wanna wax iconoclastic? Wear a Carpet World discard, then we’ll talk.

Yep. The people on the #9 today are deeply fascinating, if a little ‘off the map’. Gotta love the days when riding the bus is more entertainment than necessity. Makes the journey more interesting and provides some appreciation for just how wacky and/or quirky people can really be. Always a fun ride.

UPDATE: Yesterday evening (March 2, 2006) a man in his mid thirties was beaten and killed on route 74 in South Edmonton. [story here] Four white youths committed this crime with three witnesses present. The man was rushed to hospital in critical condition but died shortly after arrival. This murder weighs heavy on me, and my thoughts and condolences are with the family of the victim. I hope that these four cowardly fucks get nailed to the wall for this senseless and brutal crime.

Vignette #42

5 reader comments (closed)

1

frutigerblack

The 9 north-bound: more interesting than the 8 in my experience. Never seen the Prince of Carpet – must keep an eye out for him.

The 74: I ride the 74 almost daily to get to work; in the early AM, she runs from University all the way to Millwoods TC. Never thought of Heritage as particularly rife with hoodlums … but could be the time of day I cruise through there.

There are an awful lot of nasty little punks carrying knives these days. Somewhere between 14 and 20, skater-thugs without boards. Unclean, foul-mouthed loud little louts … that really would kill ya for looking at ‘em. There weren’t as many sociopaths when I was there age.

Had a good scare at Belvedere about two years ago. Two 14-15 year old native kids cornered some other guy at the far end of the platform. I saw one of them dicking around with one of those 4-5 inch folding knives about a minute before they ambled over to push him around. I walked up to the emergency intercom, slapped the panic button; told the security guy that one of them had a knife. Security guy comes on the over-heads and verbally abuses those two shitheads.

Something I didn’t know until then; there’s no on-site security. I’d picked a very lonely place to be the bastion of established society. They didn’t pick those kids up until Churchill, and they road the whole way with me. The one with the knife pulled it out and sat across from me. Told me he could cut me. I haven’t been afraid of a 14 year-old since high school.

Mar 03, 2006 • 12:27

2

gravel

There does seem to be alot more weapon-toting young thugs these days. A general “gangsta” attitude seems to be prevalent. But, I think that has always been there to a certain degree. I remember knowing some pretty violent jackasses when I was in school – really dangerous fuckers who carried knives and ninja stars and shit.

Mar 03, 2006 • 13:56

3

Scott

I don’t know all the specifics of the 74 attack, but I find it disturbing that 4 people “witnessed” it, and, as far as I know, did nothing to intervene. (Please correct me if I am wrong here.)
I feel it’s one’s social responsibility TO intervene – regardless of police or ETS recommendations. I couldn’t look myself in the mirror again, if I were in such a situation, and chose to sit silent.

Mike: It struck my as an odd coincidence that this happened on the 74… I didn’t even know it’s route had changed…

Mar 03, 2006 • 14:15

4

gravel

Scott,

I haven’t heard any more details on the attack, so it’s hard to say what really went down. Perhaps weapons were involved.

And I’m with you. I couldn’t just sit back and watch someone take a fatal beating from four other guys and live with myself afterwards. Nobody deserves a beating like that. Again, we have to be cautious and wait for more details to surface.

RE: The 74. Yeah, bizarre (used to take that bus to school).

Mar 03, 2006 • 14:34

5

ink slinger

The 9 is my favourite bus in the city, whether north-bound or south-bound, if only because of the characters that ride it. I used to ride the south-bound bus from Northgate to Downtown and/or Whyte all the time when I was still living at home, and never once did I not find at least one person who captured my attention in a unique way.

As for fatal bus beatings, something about attacking a person while you’re riding a moving bus/train has always struck me as strange. It takes some serious balls to jump someone in a situation where you can’t necessarily run off immediately after doing the deed. I obviously don’t mean that in a positive sense, just that it takes a certain sort of fucked up arrogance to even think about doing that.

I want to go back to the days when, if two guys had a beef, they beat the crap out of each other and then it was done. They each had a new respect for the other, and it was done. None of this stabbing bullshit. None of this 4-on-1 bullshit.

Mar 04, 2006 • 12:31

StreetRag, An Urban Notebook

StreetRag ::: An Urban Notebook

 • 


About

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.

Read the complete story

Recent Vignettes

Podcast Episodes

The City

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?

More about Edmonton