Let’s get something straight from the outset: Saturday #7 didn’t exactly move the needle on the Official 100Saturdays.com Thrill-O-Meter. I know it and I’m okay with it. Please allow me to explain.
If I had to name two things that I’m blessed with, I’d say an exceptionally large bladder would be numero uno and the ability to sleep through almost any disturbance would be a close second. The bladder comes in handy on occasion but the ability to sleep in close proximity to demolition crews, jackhammers, lawnmowers, bagpipes, tornadoes, and neighbours who practice yodeling at all hours of the day and night is both a blessing and a curse.
Cell phone alarms at even the lowest volume don’t go over well in 18-bed dorms, so my homemade ringtone of Roger Huston screaming, “If you’ve never been on your feet, ya better get up now,” would be a definite no-no. Without it, I had zero confidence that I would be able to get up at 3:30 a.m. and make it to Pacific Station for a 5:30 a.m. (Sunday) bus to Seattle. A Saturday all-nighter in the vicinity of the east-side station sounded like a safer option. Not that ‘safer’ and ‘hanging out around Main & Terminal at 3:00 a.m.’ have ever been used in the same sentence, but you know what I mean.
After a backpacker’s Double-Double (two naps, two loads of laundry), I re-organized my backpack, ditched some non-essential items, and checked out of the hostel at 8:00 p.m. Twenty-eight minutes later the #4 bus deposited me at Granville and Davie.
I was headed for the funky Templeton Diner when I spotted a Japadog cart. After a brief chat with the cooks, I ordered the Kurobuta Terimayo – a grilled Kurobuta pork sausage with fried onions, teriyaki sauce, wasabi mayo and seaweed. It’s their No. 1 seller thanks in part to Vancouver Magazine including it on their list of “10 Things to Taste Before You Die.”
To be honest, I had never heard of Kurobuta Pork and Japadog’s claim that it’s the “Kobe Beef of Pork” seemed like a stretch, but it was very good. Later I spent a few seconds on Google and confirmed that it’s widely considered to be the “highest quality pork in the oworld.”
With a Japadog and a double helping of seaweed in my belly, I walked a few blocks to the theatre that was showing Boyhood. Of all the movies playing in the downtown core, Boyhood was one of latest to start (9:45 p.m.) and longest running (164 minutes) and thus a no-brainer for someone looking for a 5-star time-killer. It turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. It’s a fictional coming-of-age story with a twist; It was shot over a 12-year period with the same cast. You literally see the family age before your eyes.
After the movie, I made my way down to Vancouver’s gritty east side only to find the station locked for the night. I wasn’t able to store my backpack as planned. This wasn’t an issue as most of the people in the area have a backpack or a vast collection of plastic bags. Many are homeless. Hell, I’m homeless.
I know we’re not in the same boat, and I’ll never truly know what it’s like to live on the street, but for a few hours I was technically homeless, lugging two backpacks containing most of what I own, and bouncing from one 24-hour establishment to another.
I had a beer at the New Ivanhoe Hotel but left when they started to stack chairs on tables at 1:15 a.m. I guess you can do that when you’ve got ’em lined up again at 11:00 a.m.
After the Ivanhoe I visited a McDonalds and killed another hour over a Smoky BBQ Bacon Angus Burger and a large Diet Coke. Those ordering the much cheaper filet-o-fish and a water might have been asked to move along after 30 minutes. The manager did a walkabout every 10 minutes and never once said a word to me as I sat with my Angus Burger and Macbook Pro. I never thought you could sound snobbish discussing menu choices at McDonalds but I just did.
After an hour at Ron’s, I wandered down the street to his distant cousin Tim’s. Same thing there – a large coffee and a maple glazed will get you a comfy seat and use of a clean bathroom for as long as you want. I didn’t go out of my way to talk to the overnight crowd at Tim’s but most of them talked incessantly to themselves.
I’m sorry to disappoint if you were expecting wild tales of run-ins with crack heads in the alley north of Hastings, doing shots with $20 whores at the Balmoral Hotel, or trying hard not to disrespect the gang bangers in their neon under-lit Civics in the McDonalds parking lot. Fortunately – or unfortunately from a storyteller’s point of view – nothing happened.
Before I knew it, it was 4:45 and time to board the bus to Seattle. Saturday #7 was in the books. I survived, bored but alive.