Surrey transit after dark reveals ‘Boulevard of broken dreams’…( and they wonder why more people don’t take transit)

Come my friends, let me tell you a tale of harrowing adventure, for I have seen the dark side and survived to see the light…

Last night, I took the #321 bus from Surrey Central Station down King George Boulevard on my way home from a meeting with friends in Kitsilano.

It isn’t pretty, my friends.. if you’ve a weak stomach, turn away now – this is your only warning.

It’s been a while since I took transit after dark in Surrey- quite frankly after 9pm bus service drops dramatically in many areas and is non-existent in others- but that’s another story in itself.

Getting off the skytrain at Surrey Central after getting on in Vancouver, it seemed like I had been transported into another realm… the lighting at the station, quite frankly, sucks. Waiting in the lengthy lineup in near darkness, the interior bus lights seemed a welcoming beacon.

Please God, I thought, please let there be room for all of us to get on…and we do,back to back, like sardines in a can. I’m standing there, holding the bar over head, trying to protect my purse, thinking I should have just grabbed a cab when suddenly I lurched forward into the ‘working girl’ beside me, thanks to the crack head behind me who decided pushing everyone in the aisle forward to get to the back is a good idea. “Yo bitches, get yo eff-ing asses moving. I got a eff-ing date back there.”

Seriously? Are you kidding me? This guys got a date? On the back of the bus? I turn around, and nearly bite my tongue off trying not to laugh. First of all, he reeks like an old shoe and Axe. The guys wearing a truckers cap sideways that looks like a 5 year old girl attacked with her Be-Dazzler, strings of fake gold and diamond bling, saggy-ass pants that he’s holding up with one hand.. and he has a date?

I’m tired, I’ve had enough already. I give him a sarcastic smile. “Yo homie, wassup? Touch me again and I’ll show you some ‘bitch’,understand?”

Clearly puzzled by my use of the word homie, he backs off. “Chill sister, it’s all good, see,I just need to see my baby back there.”I look back and see a teenage girl – barely legal I’m sure – dressed like a stripper and I wonder how the hell her parents let her out like that.

He pushes by me, and it’s only then I notice that the side of my dress feels wet. Looking down, I can smell cheap rum and sigh. The working girl beside me shrugs and says sorry, she can’t hold her drink well. As she scrunches up her eyes and nose trying to focus on my face, I’m wondering how long she’s going to remain upright.

Having packed on enough people that we’re not only all touching – I can feel things pressed against me I shouldn’t be able to – the bus leaves the station. We make it to the first stop and unbelievably another person gets on the bus. Everyone shuffles a bit, but there really is nowhere to go. Standing there holding onto the pole in front of me, swaying back and forth in unison with the other passengers as the bus turns around a corner, it suddenly occurs to me this might be what pole dancing feels like! I’m tired and the thought actually makes me laugh out loud, and people start looking at me like I’m nuts.

Trying to pass the time, I look around at the passengers, most of whom are clearly struggling in life. More than a few crack-heads, covered in sores, some clearly oozing and freshly scratched, a couple of prostitutes, a herd of stoned teenage boys reeking of pot trying to look like they aren’t stoned out of their minds, and between them all, here and there, people like me just trying to make it home on public transit.

There are two students, earplugs in listening to music, heads down- you can tell they’ve done this a few times, and a Muslim woman in her hijab who also keeps her head down,not looking at anyone. Like myself, she clutched her purse tightly with one arm while holding the pole with the other. She looks up, we smile at each other in sympathy.

Sitting below me, an early thirties hipster is talking on the phone to someone… “Yeah, I’m just headed down King George now, shit, it hasn’t changed since I was a kid, kind of reminds me of some parts of Detroit man, weird to be home again” …   No kidding. King George after dark is like another world and so is this bus.

I look outside,and sigh when I see we are just past Surrey Memorial.. it’s going to be along trip. And wow, lucky me, while one or two people get off at every stop, sometimes 2 or 3 get on. It’s a never ending stream.

By now, the conveyor movement of standing riders has moved me nearly to the back doors and right beside a man who is clearly marching to the beat of his own drum. With his T-shirt pulled up and his sizeable belly out, he’s poking his finger around in his navel. That’s all I am going to say about that. I look straight ahead into the black and white whirl of streetlights whizzing by the window…what the hell was I thinking taking the bus…and then it hits me. Like a brick wall, and I actually have to swallow to keep my dinner down.

It’s B.O. Not just any B.O., but the mother of all B.O. in the history of the world. I mean, I can’t breathe, I literally can’t breathe in without gagging every single time.I look over, and it’s the belly button man,who is standing there with his arm up, holding onto the overhead bar, oblivious to the people below and beside covering their faces with their shirts. And his other hand is still busy with his navel.

I try breathing through my mouth only, but I swear I can actually taste it and I’m forced to put my head down trying to get a whiff of my perfume to kill it, to no avail. And then I think, this is exactly what they were talking about in the famous Seinfeld episode, The Smelly Car!  It’s on me, around me, it’s moving in the air like a living, breathing being.

Then the unthinkable happens. The bus stops hard, unexpectedly, and everyone starts falling back.. no! No! I’m too young to go this way!  I look to the left and see his giant hairy armpit and I’m grabbing, flailing for anything to grab onto that might stop me from falling into the abyss… and find the back of the seat below with less than an inch between my face and certain death by B.O… I’m still shuddering now, reliving the moment.

Minutes later, we arrive at Newton exchange and I get out, get away from the bus and stop to breathe the air deeply several times. I notice several other people doing the same thing and we all kind of laugh in a not so funny way. No one needs to say a word. But I’m done, seriously done, and bolt for a cab.

Getting into the cab, I give the driver my address and he looks at me in sympathy. “You poor girl, you just got off the #321, didn’t you?”

I look at him and nod my head yes. He looks at me with a very serious expression: “That is nothing, you should see that bus after midnight on the weekend. Full of idiots. Many idiots, all drunk and doing drugs. I have many stories to tell from people getting off this bus!”

We chat for a bit – he does indeed, have a lot of stories to tell and I enjoy hearing them – and then he stops and sniffs the air suddenly, then again and again.

“Do you smell something? I smell something very, very bad in this car!” He unrolls his window a bit… and looks at me suspiciously, wrinkling his nose and making a face.

“I’m very sorry ma’am, but you smell very bad!”

Oh geez…

And they wonder why people prefer driving…

Why you should NOT insult your dentist while he is doing your root canal

It all started innocently enough, two years ago.

I had located a new dentist since moving, and booked an appointment to have a tooth checked. It was causing me a little pain when eating hot or cold food-irritating but not life threatening.

I liked him right away. He was a bit younger than me, hip ( or so he thought), and he appeared to know what he was doing. He took some xrays, and told me that I needed a root canal. The filling had deteriorated so badly that the roots were compromised.

WHAT??!!  A root canal? I shuddered then, and I actually just shuddered as I am writing this. Brrrr.

I told him no, just give me a new filling, or something else – anything but a root canal. I’d never had one, but I’d also never heard anything good about them either. He advised me that he does it all the time, its merely a bunch of old wives tales and he assured me that everything would be ok.  I agreed, albeit with great reservation.

The big day came and I sat in that reclining chair as he worked on my tooth. The sickening scent of cloves lay heavy in the air. Having nothing with which to amuse myself, I found myself oddly drawn to his head, or more precisely, his hair. I noticed he had several grey hairs on the top of his head and found this surprising considering his young age. Maybe it was the drugs, but for some reason, I just couldn’t stop staring at those hairs. I was totally fixated on them. They all seemed to be sprouting from the same follicle! Then,just as i was really getting into the search for more grey hairs, he did the unthinkable. I was helpless in my slack jawed stupor to stop him .

He popped in an Usher CD.

Then, without missing a beat, he starting singing softly as he drilled. ” Yeah, yeah , yeah.. uh huh,.. yeah yeah yeah…uh huh…” I swear to God, he was swinging his hips.


Ok, for the record, getting a root canal is bad enough without having Usher whispered in your ear the entire time.What is this- a disco or a dentist office?  I sat, I suffered, and I kept staring at those damn grey hairs on his head.

We were nearly half way done, when he gave me a ‘mouth break’.  Just so you know,two hours is a long time to hold your mouth open. I sat up, and he asked me how I was while he was still humming another Usher song. I narrowed my eyes and looked at him.  I asked him: ” You like Usher?” and massaged my jaw.

” Oh yeah!! Totally! Don’t you?”   

“No”, I told him: ” This is a No-Usher zone, ok? It’s my root canal.”  He looked at me funny,as If I were the crazy one, but then he popped out the CD. As I leaned back into the chair again, he asked me what I was looking at while he had been working.

To this day, I still do not know what came over me.

 Maybe it was the drugs, maybe it was the Usher torture, but I told him the truth.  “Oh, nothing much. I just noticed  all the grey hairs on the top of your head. ”

It was classic, I must say. His eyes bugged right out of his head and his mouth dropped open. The assistant covered her face with her hands and laughed her butt off in the corner.

” You. Are. Joking. Me.” he said. ” I have grey hair? No! No! Where? ” He ran out of the room and into the bathroom where apparently he checked his hair. Vain much?

 When he came back, he looked slightly traumatized, but continued on as professionally as before, although he was a tad rough this time. He fitted the crown over two appointments and before the second one, the assistant phoned to ask me not to mention his hair again, because he had given grief to everyone since my last visit, asking them over and over if he looked old, or if they noticed any new grey hairs. 

He left the practice shortly thereafter and returned to the States,and a few months later I had a walloping infection in the root canal tooth. It abscessed. It wasn’t pretty and it hurt like hell, and guess what?

I had to have another root canal, on the same tooth.

 And guess what else

The other dentist broke a pick off inside the root which could not be retrieved because it was so small. I was freaking out. He kept telling me  that this was ok, it happens all the time, and that as long as it filled the tip of the root nothing would happen.

Sure. Well guess what? Something happened.

 I developed a small, hard lump on the gum under that tooth. Not painful, but weird, you know? I went back to the dentist ( yes I know I should have found someone else), he took an xray, and says he is stymied. He has no idea what it is.  I ask him if it couldn’t be the metal thing he broke off inside the tooth.  Nope. He can’t do anything  himself, but… he can send me to a root canal specialist. Lucky me.

I went, I listened, and I walked out knowing I would never go back to him again. He tells me that something is wrong( I knew that already,moron, that’s why I’m here) , and that he should do another root canal on it. But, he says, it might not work, and it wont get rid of the funny lump, so then you will need apical surgery. This is where they cut the roots of your tooth off. I could look like I had a stroke if he nicks a nerve or a muscle. (Wow! Lovely! Where do I sign up ? ) That might not work either, so then I would have to pull the tooth out.

See ya. I don’t think so.

So, at this point, even though I have excellent dental insurance, I had already spent about $2000 on an extra root canal and a crown. This new root canal would cost $1200.00, and then a new crown- $1000.00, and so on…. It is ONE tooth!!!

So, two years since the start of this ” Good Tooth Gone Bad” episode, i have nearly reached the closing credits. By the time you read this, I will be in surgery, having the lump removed because occasionally these things turn into cancer or they just make your face really ugly. It’s not nice surgery ( is there such a thing?), and I wont be able to eat for days.Ok, a day or two.  AND, I’m told my face and lip may be numb or feel like pins and needles- for a long time, perhaps forever. To top it off,I’m going to look like I went three rounds with Mike Tyson. (Such a hot look for a woman.) Then, I  will probably have to have the damn tooth removed, and I am thinking that I should have just done that in the first place.

Nice, just freaking peachy.

And this, my friends, is why you should never insult your dentist when hes working on your root canal.

I ‘ll let you know how it goes in tomorrows Bits and Bites.

The mystery of Canada and Canadians

Most Canadians are familiar with the complete lack of knowledge that many other inhabitants of the world still exhibit about us and it appears that a good portion of the world still thinks we live in igloos and paddle canoes for transportation. With Canada now in the spotlight of  the 2010 Olympics, that mystery surrounding Canada is becoming ever more evident.

 Courtesy of an American reader by the name of Don, who is( was? )also a BT viewer from the U.S. ( I’ve heard from so many Americans who were also BT fans), is a funny bit of reading for that highlights just what I’ve been talking about…..

” Now that Vancouver has won the chance to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, these are some questions people the world over are asking!
Believe it or not these questions about Canada were posted on an International Tourism Website. (They have also appeared in the Humor Letter before)
Q: I have never seen it warm on Canadian TV, so how do the plants grow? (England )
A. We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around and watch them die.
Q: Will I be able to see Polar Bears in the street? (USA )
A: Depends on how much you’ve been drinking.
Q: I want to walk from Vancouver to Toronto – can I follow the Railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it’s only Four thousand miles, take lots of water.
Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes in Canada? (Sweden )
A: So it’s true what they say about Swedes.
Q: It is imperative that I find the names and addresses of places to contact for a stuffed Beaver. (Italy)
A: Let’s not touch this one.
Q: Are there any ATM’s (cash machines) in Canada? Can you send me a list of them in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Halifax ? (England)
A: What did your last slave die of?
Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Canada? (USA)
A: Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Calgary. Come naked.
Q: Which direction is North in Canada? (USA )
A: Face towards the US and then turn 180 degrees Contact us when you get here and we’ll tell you about East and West.
Q: Can I bring cutlery into Canada? (England )
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.
Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys’ Choir schedule? (USA )
A: Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in in Calgary, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.
Q: Do you have perfume in Canada? (Germany )
A: No, WE don’t stink. You better bring some along for yourself.
Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Where can I sell it in Canada? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.
Q: Can you tell me the regions in British Columbia where the female population is smaller than the male population? (Italy)
A: Yes, gay nightclubs
Q: Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada? (USA )
A: Only at Thanksgiving.
 Q: Are there supermarkets in Toronto and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of Vegan hunter/gathers. Milk is illegal.
Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Canada, but I forget its name. It’s a kind of big horse with horns.
A: It’s called a Moose. They are tall and very violent. They roam the city streets eating the brains of anyone walking close to them. Spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking will scare them off.
Q: Does everybody in Banff speak Japanese?
A: No, the elk, that roam the streets, only speak Canadian, eh!
Q: Do the Mounties still ride around on horses and carry mammoth tusk clubs?
A: Only during riots, G8 conferences, mud wrestling championships and hippo races.
Q: I heard about submarine races at Lost Lagoon in Vancouver. When do they have them?
A: Most evenings as soon as it gets dark. You can also park at Stanley Park across the street.
Q: Do the guys still smoke at Hooters in Calgary?
A: No, the girls were told to slow down.”

Good grief.