“Hello, welcome, welcome. Thank you for coming,” the shopkeeper
calls out to me from behind the counter when I walk
through the door.
I nod in his direction and manage a closed-mouth smile. It’s not desirable to be noticed in public with greasy hair, morning breath, and sweatpants, but I need cream, and because coffee is essential, and cream is essential to coffee, I debase myself.
When we moved from the glorious tree-lined boulevards of old money west side Vancouver to the East Side where houses sit shoulder to shoulder, my little family was somewhat placated by the convenience of a corner store across the street from our new (to us) condo.
This pocket of East Van, tucked between the seashore and a thoroughfare to the Trans Canada highway, is in what the developers call “transition”. Downtown is pushing east, and waterfront is always at a premium. People like me are moving into the neighbourhood. People with new cars and new clothes and new condos are shopping for milk or toilet paper or late night potato chips at the corner store on a daily basis.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Mr. Corner Store says to me as I hand him my small cardboard cube of cream. His daughter, still too young for school, runs in and out of the door so the chime rings repeatedly. His wife stoops to stock a low shelf with a row of canned stew and clucks at the daughter in a language I don’t understand.
“Special price for you today. Only two hundred and twenty three pennies.” I manage a subdued chuckle and hand him my bankcard. People like me pay with plastic. The people who were here before the people like me pay with loose change, carefully counted while the people like me wait in line.
Some of the first neighbourhood people have a tab. I’ve seen them come in, round up dinner in a can, and waltz out holding up their loot for the shopkeeper to see. A nod of acknowledgement passes between them, but no words.
“Interact for you today?” he asks me.
I smile and nod. I just want to scurry home before anyone sees me.
“Very good. Any cash back? No charge for you.” He flourishes the machine as if it’s a bottle of fine wine.
“No thanks,” I say, barely audible, hoping I won’t offend him with my straight-out-of-bed breath. He doesn’t seem to notice. Another customer like me has arrived.
“Hello, welcome, welcome. Thank you for coming.”
I finish my button pushing and make a play for the door, trying to skulk away unnoticed.
“Thank you. Enjoy your day. Please come again,” he says.
Again, I smile and nod, first at him, then his wife, then at his little girl, who is still going in and out, in and out, in and out, bing! bing! bing!
by Wayne Chan | May 3rd 11:55 am
My daily commute is like a small gear of mechanical time, of epicycles upon epicycles, where days turn to months and to years, and the seasons cycle through. The rhythms of time are constant, but the changes they bring are not.
by george ilsley | May 3rd 1:44 pm
The neighborhood of Broma in Vancouver (around Broadway and Main) used to have salmon streams and a temperate rainforest. Now it has hipsters.
by Brendan Harrison | Apr 12th 12:54 pm
When white supremacists moved into my neighbourhood, I was forced to reconsider what community meant to me.
by Monica Meneghetti | May 2nd 11:45 pm
Queer Banffites come in every stripe but, like other wildlife, most of us are well-camouflaged.
by Christin Geall | May 3rd 10:16 pm
In my neighborhood, houses float out to sea. They’re jacked up from their foundations, lifted onto trucks, and barged away.
by Gina Woolsey | May 2nd 3:58 pm
A short scene of neighbours buying incidentals at the corner grocery store - the story portrays the slow but steady gentrification of an East Vancouver neighbourhood.