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South Granville store closing was a messy business

January 22, 2015

A VPD cruiser idling in the Bombay loading area at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

When I made it back to West Broadway Avenue and South Granville Street early Wednesday evening the police were waiting—not for me but for a forensic investigator to come and document the miserable state of the loading bay behind the store formerly known as Bombay & Company at 2536 Granville Street.

Everything must go…in the dumpster!


The Van carrying the Vancouver Police forensic investigator arrives.

The last week has seen the South Granville location of the troubled Canadian furniture chain close their doors and clear out for good.

Just in the course of Monday and Tuesday, the staff and management of the Bombay store threw out what looked like a store’s worth of garbage: fixtures, furniture—all sorts of great things—and they tried to stuff it all in their one little dumpster.

From Monday afternoon to near midnight Tuesday, every time I saw that Bombay dumpster there was someone rummaging through it.

Several binners and dumpster divers filling up bags and shopping carts as well as far less grungy people who stopped to load up their cars with goodies that they cherry picked out of the dumpster.

Some of the dumpster divers were tidy and some were messy. Monday evening at about 10 p.m. the area around the Bombay’s dumpster was strewn with the garbage that a fellow was displacing as he literally tried to get to the bottom of what the store had thrown out.

The mess he was making included a large spray of what looked like broken safety glass.

By 8 a.m. Tuesday morning most of that mess was gone, probably cleaned up by Bombay staff, but there were still more dumpster divers and bargain hunters throughout the day.

Late Tuesday afternoon even I had to stop and admire the tall and darkly handsome, jet-black ShopVac wet/dry vacuum cleaner that Bombay had abandoned beside the dumpster. Just the thing, I thought, that Darth Vader could’ve used to clean up the mess the rebels made of the Death Star.

Not to mention the mess around the dumpster.

The big picture this evening, left to right: the Bombay's dumpster, the loading bay and the alcove of the Dick building where my friend was camping.

Left to right: the Bombay’s dumpster, the loading bay and the alcove where my friend was camping.

Bombay had so much big unsold stuff, they were giving it away.

My  homeless panhandler friend was camping in the alcove on the north side of the Bombay’s loading area and the store gave him at least one large desk, disassembled and still in its unopened, flat shipping box.

When I last saw the loading area behind 2536 Granville Street on Tuesday evening it was after 10 p.m; I was leaving the McDonald’s restaurant, just next door to Bombay’s loading area.

I was tired and on my way to bed. My homeless friend was in the alley beside the loading bay. He’d already rustled up a buyer for the desk and he was pushing the box toward the open hatchback of a waiting taxi cab.

At the same time, another dumpster diver was busy digging through the Bombay’s trash.

Stupidity, it turns out, is cumulative


As close as police allowed me to get to the mess for fear  I might mess it up more.

I noted on my way to breakfast Wednesday morning that the Bombay’s loading area looked a fright but that the dumpster wasn’t bad at all.

Leaving the McDonald’s at about Noon on Wednesday, I noticed that along with a mess of garbage in the loading bay there was a long, tan-coloured splash that hadn’t been there four hours previously.

By 5 p.m. Wednesday evening, the long splash was still there, along with two police officers, one of whom told me the splash was paint. And there was more paint splashed on the asphalt and the wall and door of the building along the back of the loading bay.

I noticed the three overturned industrial-size 20 kg paint pails and then the construction waste in the dumpster.

I would’ve thought it was too early for renovation work to have started on the interior just vacated by Bombay & Company and I couldn’t remember seeing the paint pails Monday or Tuesday evening.

Where did the pails of paint come from?

Then I remembered that Monday and Tuesday evening, next door to the loading bay, a”handyman” had been busy outside the McDonald’s in the Dick building in the 1400-block of West Broadway Avenue. Tuesday evening he was noisily scrapping the street-side window moldings of the McDonald’s in advance of refinishing them.

I’m told that he was doing other work inside the building, including painting.

Where did he throw his garbage when he was done for the night? Did he leave any partially filled pails of paint in the alley by the dumpsters?

Whoever left the paint by the loading bay made it possible by their carelessness for someone else to come along and make the mess they did.

Wednesday’s child can’t wait to get buzzed

This Wednesday was finally—after a five week wait—”Welfare Wednesday”, aka “Mardi Gras“.

Waiting the normal four weeks between government benefits is hard enough—the money is usually long gone after two weeks but the occasional five week waits are too much. A lot of recipients are feeling so deprived after a five-weeker that they go overboard when the money finally arrives.

For recipients with bank accounts, the money can arrive shortly after Midnight on Wednesday morning by direct deposit.

Drug dealers know all about the five-week hunger and they know that many street users get direct deposit. Some of them even go out into the neighbourhoods early on cheque day looking to meet the pent-up demand of homeless people where they live.

Making house calls to the homeless

As I was waking up early Wednesday morning a young lad on a bicycle rode right up to me in my parkade and mumbled a bunch of words at me.

I couldn’t get what he was saying at all. Could he please speak plain English? I asked him.

“Crystal Meth; that’s plain English”, he replied, polite but exasperated.

My complete lack of interest left him at a momentary loss. A street person that didn’t do meth? I might as well have been a fish that didn’t know how to swim.

He rode away without wasting another minute on me. There may have been more takers for his product closer to West Broadway Avenue and South Granville Street.

The stereotypical street person gets arrested

Thursday morning after the night before. The rain makes the mess worse.

Thursday morning after the night before. The rain makes the mess worse.

I don’t think my homeless panhandler friend receives his disability money by direct deposit. I’m sure he has to go pick up and deal with a cheque the old fashioned way.

I know he was definitely “hurting” ahead of what he called “pay day”.

When I saw him at about 8 a.m. Wednesday morning he was very low-key. He needed me to buy his coffee for him and he was complaining about his MRSA-swollen hands (normal enough).

However, sometime within the next  four hours he cashed his cheque and became quite a changed man—the junkie reborn.

It’s fair to say that in his effort to make up for lost time he definitely overdid it—making quite a nuisance of himself in several South Granville businesses.

Among other things he apparently tried to get served in the West Broadway McDonald’s off South Granville where he knows he’s barred and ended up throwing his change at the staff behind the counter.

At one point he ended up in his alley alcove between the McDonald’s and the loading bay of 2536 Granville Street.

There was yelling and screaming. Things were kicked, dumpsters were moved and apparently paint was thrown.

Finally his loud, unpredictable antics began to scare customers.

When that happens on South Granville (and most everywhere else) there’s nothing to do but call the police.

So the Vancouver police cruiser I saw at 5 p.m. had originally been part of the response to deal with my friend “Dopey.” After he was arrested police had stayed to investigate and document the mess in the loading bay.

It’s a damn shame but if the worst thing that happens in Fairview on welfare Wednesday is that some paint gets spilled then we should probably count our blessings. In the Downtown Eastside sometimes it’s blood that gets spilled.

Some thoughts beyond “you can’t fix stupid”

In past years I’ve seen several South Granville businesses throw out the same sort of volume as the Bombay & Company location did, either because of closure or renovation. The sensible thing that most of them have done is bring in a construction dumpster. There was plenty of room for one in the loading bay of 2536 Granville Street.

That said, the stream of dumpster divers scavenging what Bombay & Company threw out actually prevented much more of a mess than they ever caused and the huge volume of stuff they carted off stays out of the landfill. Yay!

I can’t be absolutely sure but I think I know who left the pails of paint in the alley. Whoever did, is just as big an idiot as my drug-addicted homeless friend and what’s more, if I’m right, they’re a professional tradesperson and as such they should know better. They should know also that it’s simply illegal and unprofessional to dispose of construction waste and paint that way.

I have no thoughts about drug addiction and the trade in hard street drugs beyond the fact that I believe it’s a waste and a kind of crime against humanity but it pays well apparently and in a market economy that must weigh in it’s favour.

I do have a final thought about provincial welfare and disability benefits. I think the B.C. government should stop issuing them once each month and simply issue the monies on a regular four weekly schedule.

This would help slightly reduce poverty and it could reduce street disorder by eliminating the ‘feast after the famine” mentality that arises with provincial welfare and disability benefits every time there’s a five-week month.

This would mean 13 benefit payments in a calendar year rather than twelve and thus a modest (and quite doable) 8.3 percent increase in provincial benefits.

The only thing that might tell against adopting such a rational schedule might be the initial confusion and inconvenience it could cause some recipients.

It wouldn’t need to ever confuse them concerning the monthly rent portion of their benefits, because the government pays that directly to their landlord but it would mean that they receive their money out of sync with any monthly bills they have to pay and that would take some getting used to.

It would also seem strange when two benefit payments go out in one calendar month (this year that month would be September I think). Also the December payment would often (or always) have to be made early because of the Christmas holiday. Click the images to enlarge them.

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