Homeless in Vancouver: Kind of a prize-winning binning day

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      You’ve heard of door prizes, right? Well, Monday afternoon (September 7), I was the lucky recipient of a “nearly doored” prize.

      I was riding south on Laurel Street between 13th and 14th Avenue—at a measured speed, watching the cars that were parked ahead of me on my right for any signs of life.

      I saw a telltale flicker in a driver-side mirror and tacked left to give one upcoming car a little more room and as I passed this four-door sedan I made eye contact with the driver as she abruptly threw her door open. There was no heat whatsoever in my glance but her eyes were wide. One of us was surprised.

      Why I can never blame Vancouver drivers

      This close encounter occurred a quarter of the way along a city block and I only went a quarter of the way further before I pulled up at the intersection with an alley.

      I saw that the woman was out of her car and looking over at me. She may have thought that I had stopped so that I could have a word or two with her but I had actually stopped to check a container recycling blue bin.

      I wasn’t there to chat up absent-minded drivers but to fill my bike trailer with returnable beverage containers and cash them in at the bottle depot lickety-split, before it closed early at 3 p.m. because of the Labour Day holiday.

      The woman came right over to me, carrying her groceries, I guessed. She had wonderful, long raven-black hair.

      She stopped in front of me and declared that she had almost hit me with the door of her car.

      That was true but I was prepared to overlook the fact. Instead I said something about looking out for each other and sharing the road and no harm done.

      What I didn’t say to her was how I sometimes imagine that all motor vehicles in Vancouver are fitted with one-way glass and that while I can see in, the poor drivers themselves are unable to see out. And how this means that I have to watch out for them—not the other way round.

      Anyway, the woman presented me with the two bags that she was carrying—a handled paper grocery sack and a plastic carrier bag, both containing returnable beverage containers. The combined value of the plastic water bottles and aluminum pop cans was a little over a dollar but, like people say, it was the thought that counted.

      She was certainly apologizing for nearly dooring me and she may even have been thanking me for being attentive enough to avoid injury and thus save her a potentially expensive process involving the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.

      I accept her apology and it was my pleasure, really.

      Stanley Q. Woodvine is a homeless resident of Vancouver who has worked in the past as an illustrator, graphic designer, and writer. Follow Stanley on Twitter at @sqwabb.




      Sep 8, 2015 at 1:04pm

      Great read yet again SQW and this is actually an area where we have common experience, as cyclists who try to be polite and accommodating. It is the easiest thing in the world to whip out the FUs but I think your courtesy will repay not only you in recyclables but the rest of the two-wheeling types who don't want the motorists to hate us. Thanks!

      Paul D

      Sep 8, 2015 at 2:17pm

      Great column again. I was educated early by my ex-cop dad to assume that I was invisible to most drivers when riding my bike, and that the few who could see me would try and kill me.

      It was good advice.


      Sep 8, 2015 at 3:21pm

      I sense that she was apologising for nearly 'dooring' you and nothing else.

      Stanley Q Woodvine

      Sep 8, 2015 at 5:22pm

      Golly Paul, your Dad and my dad gave similar sorts of advice and I bet they were likewise acquainted with the criminal justice system, albeit from different perspectives.

      I have deliberately relied on a bike as my other sole means of transportation (other than the soles of my shoes) since 1992. Through no fault of my own, I have been doored several times, flipped over cars, pushed off my bike in traffic and hit several times by drivers drunk and otherwise.

      I survived all of that.

      I also survived three of the times when I was clearly in the wrong, thanks entirely to the quick reflexes of drivers.