Downtown and Me

Hey, guys.

I haven't written. I know. You've forgotten. But here I am.

The reason I am writing tonight, after so so so many events in my life, personally and professionally, and so many events in my community, my country, my world....after so many events have occurred and I have not written about them here...the reason I am writing tonight is thus:

I was driving a friend home tonight, taking the downtown route from Kitsilano to Gastown, and we took Powell street to get there. Downtown Vancouver on a weekend night is a shitshow, I realize. I never, ever venture downtown on weekends unless absolutely necessary, specifically to avoid the possibility of gratuitous confrontation.

So, we are driving down Powell street and somewhere between Abbott and Columbia this thing happens. The street is packed with traffic. Lots of taxis, lots of people. I am in the left hand lane, Powell is a one way street. These two normal looking people, a man and a woman, are waiting on the street side of the parked cars to dash across the road to the nightclub across from them. We all do that, right? Wait to jaywalk by the parked cars. No problem. So I'm watching them, because I am totally not into hitting a pedestrian, seeing as how I am one most of the time. The woman starts to step out in front of my car, sort of hesitantly, so I honk, so she knows not to do it, because it will end disastrously for both of us. I honk. Not aggressively, just a short one, so she sees me. The boyfriend kicks or punches the car and starts yelling obscenities.

Okay. I have this thing, when situations heat up I like to diffuse them. It may be misguided, but I don't want that guy all keyed up and getting even more drunk and kicking the shit out of his girlfriend later, or yelling obscenities at the wrong person and getting himself knifed or shot. So, the traffic is sort of crawling and stopped at a red light anyway, so I decide to say something to the guy. I am calm and my tone is low and light. Which does, I'll admit, occasionally inflame the already irrationally incensed type of person. However, the friend I'm with, who's a bit of a loose cannon herself, starts yelling back at the guy. So then he comes back to the car and she's leaning out the window, yelling, swearing, and he's yelling and swearing back, and I just want him to know that I honked so I wouldn't kill his girlfriend, but he and now a new guy across the street are screaming, calling us fucking ugly cunts, telling us to get fucked....I was sort of lost for a minute, or my hand would have clamped down over my friend's mouth before she got word one out, but as it was it took me a minute to do so and the confrontation escalated to where I was scared of these guys.

It hits me sometimes, what an idealist I am. I like to think I can talk to anyone. And you know what? I usually can. After I told my friend she could never, ever yell at anyone like that out of my car window again, I dropped her off. I went back around and drove past the club again, vibrating with anger and fear and adrenaline and such severe sadness for what has happened to humanity. I don't know why I went back, I wanted to talk to the people, to the girl, and just calm everyone down. But I drove by, and the sidewalk was lined with people puking and yelling and jostling in line, so I kept going and came home, restless and sad.

I suppose it took me so off guard because I have encased myself in this little Obama bubble for the last few days. I have been so hopeful and excited and surprised and deeply moved by his election, and I guess I knew that to bask in the glow I would have to stay home. There is no going out in the world and noticing anything different.

I am so frustrated with people here not caring. No manners, no compassion, no thought for anything beyond getting drunk, getting high, getting even, getting fucked, getting fucked up. Cocaine and booze fueled thrills and damn the torpedoes. This insane sense of entitlement and anger about....God knows what the anger is about. PMS. Poor Me Syndrome.

Anyway, I am listening to the Talking Heads and Elvis Costello and trying to calm down. All this opening up to the world and being truthful and sensitive and having values and ideals....it just leads to heartache. But, you know what? I like it this way. I can not stand around and let my neighbours and countrymen fall irretrievably into apathy and spitefulness. There must be a way to inject compassion and kindness, mindfulness and engagement into the people. There just has to be.

Mostly I just feel so sad. There is all this potential in people, and they can't see it in themselves. How do I help them see it?

I had a tiny revenge fantasy that one of the guys, I remember their faces well, would show up in the audience at one of my shows and I would get to tell the whole audience that he was the guy who called me a fucking cunt and told me to get fucked. Sigh.

That's what happened tonight. I'm going to go write a song about it. I can't calm down. Maybe I'll watch "The Pianist" or "Dancer in the Dark" or "Big Fish". None of which I've seen and all of which will apparently make me cry. Or maybe I'll go for a run. It's been a long time, but I could see that calming me down. Now....where did I put my iPod?

That's me.

With love,



Murray said...

Jesus! I thought I was about to read about you witnessing some pedestrians getting squished, or worse, you squishing a pedestrian. My head was spinning as I got near what I was sure would be a truly awful and tragic story. Thank goodness (and your driving skills) that that wasn't the case.

Nevertheless your tale is awful and tragic in a totally different way.

Also, I hope you watched Big Fish and not the other two. At least it'll make you cry in a good way. Dancer in the Dark is a movie that I'm sure I'll never watch again. I just don't have the heart.

Mark Grangerous said...

Ms. Hahn,
I do agree with you that this city is full of the apathetic, confused, deranged, depraved, aggravated deviants of modern society. However, this city is also full of people like yourself, willing to reach down into the dregs of these alcoholics and dim-wits to try and lend a warm hand to diffuse a situation such as your encounter. And, as a socially-conscious, semi-aware individual there is a certain obligation on some level of your conscience that you acquiesced to that night.
Y'know there are times when holding back the honk and letting Darwinian philosophies determine who will be squished seems like the quickest way to reach a better world, but really stopping your car and trying to talk to these maniacs May be the only way. They need to be engaged, told they're fucking nuts and to Wake the fuck up.
I am like you and don't let shit like that change you from being like that. It's the only way.