Bus Economics

Going downtown on the bus in Vancouver; late morning, grey skies, greyer people. A man who can hardly stand up is trying to squeeze into the window seat of a guy with a backpack who is not getting up to let him in. I jump up but it’s too late, the man is at his seat looking exhausted. A woman with sad eyes in a lined face looks at me; I shrug helplessly. She doesn’t look so hot either. I sit down at the front of the bus on seniors’ row. Next to me is a very old lady; she gets up to move to the single seat facing the bench and nearly lands on top of me. Oh, sorry, sorry, she mumbles while I grab her arm to steady her.
They say no good deed goes unpunished, and sure enough, the old man on the far end of the bench suddenly says something. To me. He has long, thinning grey locks to his shoulders and intelligent eyes. What? Could you spare some change, Miss?
Are you serious? You can’t panhandle on the bus!
I get out at the next stop, feeling guilty and too rich. And I am at the bottom of the income tax ladder.
The bus has its own microeconomics, I guess, and in that world I look rich. This is Vancouver on a Monday morning in April. It’s only one day after April Fool, but I feel extremely foolish. Maybe I should have given that guy some money. I could have started something. Yeah, right. Help an old lady and you look like a mark. And I’m not so young either.
So I went and bought a raincoat. Black. From a very friendly gay guy at Joe Fresh. The quality at this chain is so high and the prices so low that I am fairly certain that I am buying stuff produced in some horrible sweat shop in Asia. I try to ┬ánot think about that. Maybe Joe Fresh is really a good company and pays a decent wage, like a dollar an hour. Sure. Why doesn’t the bloody sun ever shine in this town?
I should have stayed home.

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