My bus rolled lazily down the hill towards downtown with a crest of sunshine peeking over the city’s leering mountains gathering an unusually light crowd of early commuters and the usual mix of destitutes making their way to the intersection of Main and Hastings, effectively an open air flea market of drugs and addiction in full swing day and night.
The intersection is, quite frankly, total mayhem…no matter it be eight in morning or ten at night, and it serves as as stark reminder that the bottom is quite a lot further down the rabbit hole than anything I’ll ever experience.
It’s a useful reminder, actually.
The bus opened its doors at that corner and the addicts jumped off eagerly, as always. I gazed out at a decrepedly thin Asian man crouched against the building facing me, happily handing single cigarettes to two young men and a woman huddled around him. The two young men moved off and the women, in a loose yellow v-neck, torn jeans, and supported by one of those four-legged walkers, swayed back and forth while chatting and stashing her smoke in a back pocket. She was war-torn, to the point at which you could almost believe that the walker wasn’t even medically related; it was simply that balance is a luxury no longer afforded to someone who has run that many chemicals through themselves.
When you see this section of town, you’ll understand that I thought very little of the scene.
My day was hectic, as a meeting-filled day tends to be. When building a web product it’s hard to feel productive unless you’re nestled up to your computer. For good or for bad I feel a deep sense of urgency about our website and product right now so my senses are probably heightened a bit, and I get tense when I’m not feeling as if I’m getting shit done.
As I moved from coffee with an exciting new prospective hire to strategy planning with Anthony I felt as if the productive part of my day was rapidly escaping me.
It’s ludicrous, really, as we’re moving a lot of people and pieces towards our goals and improved product, but hey, it’s how I felt. I think anyone who’s faced important deadlines can relate to the way a priority list can loom in the corner pointing at you like the Evil Monkey in Chris’ closet.
I settled into the early evening catching up on email and Foodtree code development, hesitant to leave because it felt as if the day had just gotten started. A poker game was beginning in the conference room next to our kitchen and entrepreneurs wandered the floor looking for a few more last minute players. The sun, now setting, crawled at length across the floor, and a team building an application for the hockey community gathered around a whiteboard discussing revenue models.
This is the stuff of ideas in motion.
My focus was off and it was getting late, and I knew I should reengage my priority list at home.
I boarded my bus and sat with a blank stare out the window, mentally reshuffling work stuff with my jaw clenched tight. Zoned, but still mentally locked into things that need doing.
Three busstops later I snapped into focus as a yellow streak caught my eye, and there she was.
The woman from twelve hours earlier was hobbling across the street out my window, a few blocks from where I’d noticed her before. She was just moving down the sidewalk…her walker, then a step…deliberate. Awkward and slow. She hunched forward and to the side…
The struggle of it…of a block-long stretch of sidewalk, seemed almost unfair.
What must her day have been like?
I imagined a day of detachment and pain, craving and confusion. Alleys and sidewalks. Bartering and hustling and a never-ending quest for self-destruction.
A city block transformed into a mile long journey.
A day that seemed to have ended before it began suddenly became endless, right before my very eyes.