I was born here almost 68 years ago. The streets are all familiar although the faces of the people and the businesses have changed dramatically. On a walk along both sides of Granville Street yesterday(Sunday) from 7th Avenue to 16th Avenue, I was surprised to see that every small business was open. The street was full of shoppers, many clinging to their cell phones, connected to unseen friends and family. Only one person(without a cell phone) made eye contact.
Today I visited my family doctor from 32 years ago. We have both aged. He assured me that I had been one of his favourite patients. I laughed, positive that he could not recognize the young dark haired woman from 1980 in the old woman sitting in front of him. His hair had disappeared and a slight paunch had developed. His office had occupied the same space in the same building at 41st and Cambie for 35 years. A search online indicated that his annual earnings were between $500,000-1 million.
His receptionist, Mariah, had straight black hair to her waist. She could be anywhere from 45-55 years of age and didn't hesitate to offer advice and laughter to the patients while they were waiting. She stapled, photocopied, answered the phone and shuffled patients to examination rooms while singing along to the piped-in music.
The reason for my visit was to obtain a referral to an Opthalmologist. My left eye had been seeing flashes while we were in Mexico. I was examined by a specialist in Puerto Vallarta but his facility was quite antiquated and I wanted a second opinion about possible tears or retinal detachment. Mariah was instructed to test my vision at the end of the hall so I read out the letters while she pointed at the chart. This specialized skill was obviously added to her job description.
The rest of the afternoon was spent sharing unusual encounters with various salespeople. The weary guy at BCAA who kept sneezing on my policy papers while explaining that he was unable to give me a rebate on our travel medical insurance. The clerk at Save-on who didn't know how to validate my underground parking ticket. She finally remembered that she had to take $2.00 off my grocery purchase and then I had to put $2.00 in the parking meter!! What an interesting arrangement! Then there was the salesperson at a cellular phone kiosk who refused to reimburse me for a $10 Telus phonecard. I had inadvertantly peeled instead of scratched the back so the validation number was removed. "Why should we be responsible for your mistake?" he asked.
I finally returned to our borrowed 10th floor penthouse for a cup of tea and some quiet reflection about this city where I was born...this city that is now ranked with Hong Kong as the most expensive city in the world to own a home!