Wednesday, September 12, 2007
My new commute to work takes me by this backpacker's hostel. This morning I glanced over and saw there was a guy on the top floor sitting on the window ledge with his feet dangling out. My first thought was of a jumper. Our current neighbourhood is the only place I actually saw someone standing on a window ledge contemplating jumping. That was years ago, when I thought I could never live down here. I guess seven years in Brooklyn reset my tolerance level to social chaos. Anyway, I realized a second later that this guy wasn't a jumper. Jumpers don't sit, for one thing. Also, he looked quite comfortable, and was taking in the morning scene as we all rushed to the SkyTrain* station a block away. Then I got it. He was having his morning smoke. Smoking in most indoor places (other than private homes) is illegal in the city of Vancouver. He managed to go "outside" for his first smoke by situating his body almost completely out of the building, and his cigarette entirely so. I found myself perversely delighted that the backpacker's hostel--which seems to provide short-term housing for a variety of near-homeless folks--was the kind of place where people uphold the bylaws of the City of Vancouver. So civilized.
*New Yorkers: the SkyTrain is what they call the subway here. I imagine that's in light of the fact that it's 90% above ground.