Wednesday, February 25, 2009

September 26, Part 2: Of people and paddles

"It's leatherman!" the teenage girl said. She was working the counter at the donut shop up from the boat club. She waved her arms in front of her, the left elbow went down while the right was up, and vice-versa. It was a motion that resembled the hypnotic action of a TV show magician. I guess it is also the motion teenage girls use to greet middle-aged men dressed in leather.

"Is it all leather?" she asked him. Yes, it was. I couldn't help but overhear him explain that every article of his clothing was 100% leather.

The woman at the next table leaned over to me. "Are you a kayaker?"

She must have been asking because I had a two-meter long kayak paddle leaned up against the wall next to me. "Ah, no, I'm actually going to try to sell this paddle." She nodded at this strange explanation, in which I failed to explain that I had been canoeing across Canada and for three months had not used this paddle since the first day. It was time for it to go.

The bus stop was right out the door. School must have been out because three kids were trying their skateboard tricks there. It is a mystery to me how skateboards have maintained their coolness factor when I don't believe I've ever seen a successful trick performed on them in real life. You would think so much public failure would drive kids away from the machine.

My bike was in the shop to get cleaned up, so I boarded the bus with the others. At the next stop, a young black couple were arguing. She kicked him and hit him, and the bus was not a moment too soon for the young man. He calmly boarded and paid the fare, and looked back towards us on the bus, desperate, and alone.

One of his eyes was red, red where it should have been white.

MEC had advertised a gear swap. I explained to the head gear swapper that I wasn't sure when I was leaving town, and I was looking for advice on selling this kayak paddle. I would have had to pay something like $10 just to enter it in the swap, and it was unclear whether I would be able to retrieve any money. He suggested I just take it to Salvation Army.

I walked for some time in the direction he pointed, but I must have looked lost carrying a kayak paddle through downtown Winnipeg because a businessman on his lunch break asked where I was going.

"Salvation Army," I said, "but I'm not sure where that is."

He dialed up 411 and I heard this part of the conversation.



"Win. Ni. Peg."

"Salvation Army."

"Salvation Army."

"Sal. Va. Tion. Ar. My."

"Yes, I'm at the corner of xxxx and yyyy and I'm wondering if there's a Salvation Army nearby. Winnipeg. Xxxx and yyyy. Yes, Salvtion Army. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Okay, thank you. Bye!"

He directed me south on the next street and my walk continued.

On the way down I saw a man in one of those hooded jackets with patterns on them, white and puffy with repeated images of skulls and things. It's a fashion I associate with people who have a need to look tough like rappers and high schoolers. He was walking a tiny terrier on a pink lead.

I arrived at the Salvation Army. "Do you take this?" I asked the dishevelled old woman at the counter.

The answer was "Yes." I wouldn't need to just drop my paddle off in an alley after all.

Just before sundown I found the Hostels International downtown Winnipeg location. It was about a block and a half from the Quest Inn where I had started the day. I met some interesting people there I will mention later, and according to my journal:

Watched debates: same stupid talking points from 3 months ago plus news that Russia invaded Georgia!

Day 97 ended: HI-Downtown Winnipeg

No comments: