So I was on the bike close to Tinseltown and I rode through that underpass towards False Creek, On the other side of road a small black figure was carrying out what looked like habitual movements in preparing her bed for the night on the stone ledge under the arch. I passed into the lighter darkness on the other side and something moved me to stop about 50 meters down the road.
I fished in my backpack for my wallet, found a $10 bill, and headed back along the other side of the street. Upon closer inspection, the small black figure was a petite woman of between 25 and 45 (it was dark) who watched my approach in a wary but not entirely unfriendly way. Not wanting to appear as the Western saviour of a 3rd world village, I held out the bill and said in a self-deprecating way "I'll just assume that you can use this, apologies if I'm offending you".
"I can; thank you", she said in a completely unoffended way and took the bill. "You're a sweetheart" she continues and then "My name is Amie". I can't even remember whether I gave her mine, all I can think about is that if Amie was living on the streets at the time that George was, the two would have made good friends.
"Do you smoke cigarettes?" Amie continues. I fish out my pack and after at first extending one to her, I mumble "I'll just give you a few", which gets me another "you're such a sweetheart", in her gentle voice of perfect English in perfect intonation.. Oh, wouldn't it be heaven if all those call-centre employees spoke like Amie.
After the cigarettes change hands, I still have a foot in my mouth but manage "Have a good night" to which Amie says "Thank you. Same to you. Such a sweetheart. I love the lights on your bike. Good Night".
In retrospect, I have this horribly weird impression that the way how Amie interacted with me through her language, her body language, and what she said, she is one of the most normal people in Vancouver. Her posture, facial expression, hair and clothing style had NOTHING of the typical Vancouver Faux Personality I have become used to. This was only confirmed by a sight I saw maybe 3 minutes later. There is this traffic light at Quebec Street right in front of Science World (Yes, I know who pays lots of money to now have it called the Corporate BS World of Science but I refuse to participate) and this traffic light stays red for a rather long time. Another one of the Children of Vancouver with Limited Means (CVLM) was performing a ritualistic dance in front of 2 cars trapped by the light. He kept rubbing his tummy, pointing at the McDonalds across the street and used his two hands to simulate a begging gesture at the two drivers and their passengers in the two rather expensive cars. This being Vancouver, the people in the car didn't even acknowledge the person but stared straight at the red light that kept them in this unbearably uncomfortable situation. You can almost bet that they will vote Conservative in the next election to clean up the streets of this city. After all, the reason that they didn't give money to the beggar wasn't that they're cheap. They're upholding principles!
Just what principles are those?
That some people deserve to be infinitely more rich than others?
That some people are sooo far beneath us that they for lack of a better word have become Untouchables?
In pretty much all religions of the world, charity to those more unfortunate than us, ranks high on the list of principles.
Vancouver seems to be an awfully God-less place.