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Scenes from my uneventful Christmas Day

December 26, 2014

A rare panoramic photo taken Christmas Day inside a portable toilet.

Hope you all enjoyed your Christmas Day.

Mine started a bit late owing to the fact that I slept in. I knew that most things would be closed — restaurants, coffee shops and bottle depots for example — and I was in no rush to do nothing much.

I thought about getting up several times before I actually did. My final wake up call came when a twenty-something woman (I think she said her name was Ashley), bounded into my parkade all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, like a cheerful March hare and offered me three shortbread cookies her mother had baked, a big hug and the rest of the joint she was smoking.

Actually she didn’t so much offer me the hug as she just suddenly spread he arms straight out from her sides and sort of leaned in towards me from the waist, like she was doing charades:

“first word: stretch, fly, airplane, dive-bomb, uh, hug?”

My groggy brain clued-in just in time to meet her halfway.

I happily accepted her first two gifts but not the third. I must say though, the weed smelled nice on her; a lot better than it does when it’s mingled with the smell of many of my peers, who’s sometimes stale clothing is already saturated with the smell of cigarettes among other things.

Then things got really exciting — not!

I dawdled around doing “housekeeping” tasks so long that the sun was beginning to set by the time I finally left the parkade.

This time of year my late afternoons look just as dark as my my mornings and it was easy to imagine I was following my typical weekday routine after getting up. Except I knew that my regular McDonald’s was closed and the Waves Coffee shop that had opened last Christmas Day was also closed.

The back alleys of Fairview never close so I took a leisurely turn through several of them, stopping to investigate anything interesting or to have long chats with the handful of other homeless people I found doing much the same thing I was. This gave me the opportunity to share out excess snack foods I had gathered in the last 30 hours: corn chips, rice chips, energy bars and chocolates.

I can only eat so much junk food and I seem to be surrounded by homeless people who simply go nuts for chocolate. I therefore look forward to the prospect of having the stuff to give away just to see the looks on their faces.

From east of Oak Street to west of Burrard Street, I covered little more than a square kilometre in three hours. I collected returnable beverage containers along the way but only aluminum and plastic.

Two years ago, with the bottle depots closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day, I collected about $147-worth of returnable aluminum, plastic and glass beverage containers between Christmas Eve and the evening of Boxing Day.

I then blew apart the front chain-ring of my bike on a slight incline as I was taking that load into a bottle depot the morning of December 27th.

The whole problem was the weight of the glass — the least valuable part of the load by volume and not worth a fraction of the $80 in repairs its weight caused.

This year, the bottle depots were open on Boxing Day but I still decided to save the strain on my bike and trailer.

Nothing says Christmas to me quite like a Porta-Potty

One thing I did keep an eye out for was an unlocked portable toilet; I keep track of them all year round for just such an occasion when almost all the restaurants are closed, which only happens late at night or on Christmas Day.

The portable facility which afforded me the sanitary relief I needed was located just on the west side of South Granville Street and on the south side of 12th Avenue.

Thanks to the construction people for providing it and for not locking it. I provided my own toilet paper, wet wipes (one of my Christmas presents) and hand sanitizer.

Some Christmas I promise I’ll Thai something new

On my way back to my parkade I stopped at a corner strip mall on the southeast corner of West Broadway Avenue at Oak Street. I filled my travel mug with fresh, hot coffee at a 24-hour-convenience store and bought my Christmas dinner: an $11 takeaway of pineapple fried rice from a 24-hour Thai restaurant.

For about two years I regularly stopped at this restaurant twice a week to buy the exact same dinner on my way back down Oak Street from binning in the Kerrisdale and Oakridge areas some 40 blocks due south.

This was my first visit to the restaurant since last Christmas Day and the woman who owned it greeted me like an old acquaintance, with a hearty “long time no see”. I wished her a merry Christmas and, apologized in advance before I told her what I wanted.

She was proud of the variety on her menu and had tried several times to convince me to try something else — without the slightest success.

She probably would’ve liked Santa to bring her more customers with more varied tastes in Thai cuisine but this Christmas Day she took my order with good grace; only shaking her head slightly and muttering theatrically under her breath, “always same”.

I promise I’ll change my order when someone changes the holiday. Click the image to enlarge it.

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