Sunday, June 22, 2008

On cure being worse than disease

So, I've been sick all week.

I've come down with a nasty cold, and have been trying to fight it off since Monday. I toughed it out, though, and went in to work every day this week (as I'm on vacation starting June 23rd).

Friday, with no sign of my cold letting up, I decided to head over to Misericordia Hospital for a "quick" three-hour checkup.

Sure enough, the doctor tells me "You have a cold, Mr. Jerk" and prescribed some vile medication.

The stuff knocked me on my ass for the rest of the evening. It's the same reaction I had last time they gave me this stuff - well, almost... at least I didn't hallucinate this time.

I had some bad hallucinations last time I had this particular antibiotic... my GF at the time came over to find me curled in a fetal position on my bed, blankets over my head, shivering, and muttering something about "robots" and "balls of light". It was (apparently) quite the scene. Couldn't convince the doctor to extend my prescription indefinitely, though...

Speaking of disturbing...

I gathered up some strength and hopped a bus downtown yesterday. After hitting Into The Music for a few CDs, I decided to walk over to Second Cup at Darwin's Corner for a cuppa joe.

Now, ordinarily, my walk would be interrupted several times by panhandlers asking for me for money...

Would you believe, not ONE panhandler was in sight along Portage (or in the Exchange, for that matter)?

Not a one.

Thinking to myself, "CJ, this is odd,", I looked a little more intently. So, I headed over to the St. Regis Hotel. Hmmm, none of "the regulars" were at the bus stop.

OK, let's head west a block, to the benches near the Radisson... wow, the "fab four" are nowhere to be found. MTS Center? Nada.

OK, Maybe I'm on the wrong side of the street...? So, I backtracked to Portage and Fort, crossed over to the north side of Portage, and again began heading west.

OK, I'm at the bus stop in front of the Currency House. Not a single panhandler. Hmmm....

How 'bout in front of Manhattan Bistro? There's always someone on the bench or in the planter there! Nope, not this time. Wow... Mountain Equipment Co-op? Nope. Air Canada building (aka Panhandler Mecca)?? Not a soul.

OK, now I'm getting worried. Seriously.

Portage Place? The Bay? Nothing.

Seriously, this is weird...

I head north again on the south side of Portage, all the way back to Fort, thinking I may have missed one or two.

Nope.

Then it hit me... the Skywalk! Yeah, there's always some of 'em in the skywalk! So, I entered Winnipeg Square through the Fort St. entrance, only to find that part of the mall was closed for "renovations", which is bullshit - they were pumping water from the mall! How do I figure? Well, remember what I do for a living (I sell industrial hose & fittings)! There was a Hi-vac truck outside with its pump going full-bore, several hundred feet of water suction hose laid throughout the concourse, and a little bit of water being discharged onto Fort St.

Later, on the bus ride home, I saw a couple more Hi-vac trucks (from Waterous Systems) running hoses into the Bank of Montreal building on Main St. I'm thinking the concourse saw a little flooding? Perhaps a water main break?

But anyway, back to the panhandlers...

I managed to find my way up to the skywalks, and headed clear through to Cityplace. Again, not one panhandler!

So, back through the skywalks I trudge, back to Fort St, where I went down to street level. Once on solid ground, I walked west along Graham back to Cityplace, thinking I may find someone at the bus stop there. Yeah, there's always someone there!

Well fuck me, not one panhandler.

This is freaking me out. Trying to come up with some rational explanation for the lack of indigents, all I could think was "the red-shirted Reichspolizei" must have rounded 'em all up so they wouldn't pester attendees at the Jazz Festival!

Not likely, as the Human Rights watchdogs would (rightly) be all over them, but it's particularily disturbing because that was the FIRST EXPLANATION THAT POPPED INTO MY HEAD! And I'm not normally a conspiratorially-minded guy!

So anyhow, where was I... oh yeah, Graham ave.

I pass by the Cityplace SLP, and notice a familiar form down the street. Sure enough, one of the mainstays (the younger guy missing his left hand) was in his usual spot - sitting down in front of Hull's Books at Carlton and Graham, his ballcap in his hand.

I dropped a fiver into his hat.

I never thought I'd be relieved to see a panhandler.

Hell, I never thought I'd be so worried that I'd actively seek out a panhandler.

Life's funny that way.

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