In the crisp morning air at 6:30am Monday to Friday, I walk to my office building from home. I live in downtown Calgary and my stroll to work is a glorious time to be outside in the fresh air. Traffic is light at that time, both pedestrian and vehicular. The sunrises are spectacular, though I don’t always get a lot of sun with the tall buildings around me. I enjoy my morning commute immensely, even if that sometimes means getting a whiff of early morning weed off the apartment buildings in my neighbourhood of the Beltline, or saying hello to a friendly bottle collector pushing his cart full of belongings along the alley.
Note to bottle collector: Dude, gravel alleys are totally wrecking your grocery cart tires. I’m no expert or anything, but that’s why the one wheel is spinning, off balance, and giving you zero control. You’re welcome. You’ll probably never see this post. Moving on…
As part of my journey to work, I have to take the 8th Street SW Underpass. It is currently under construction. Recently, the east side of it was completed, and now the west side is under repair. The 8th Street Underpass is the most heavily used pedestrian corridor into downtown. About $8.8 million was budgeted by the City of Calgary to enhance this particular stretch of walkway.
The urban lifestyle has its pros and cons. Some of the good points include being able to walk to work, get groceries, have access tons of eateries, services, and not drive for the most part. The cons include limited and expensive parking, smaller homes, higher property taxes, homeless people, drug addicts, drunks, and consequently a higher crime rate.
Typically, the 8th Street Underpass serves as a temporary shelter to transient folks looking for a place to panhandle or pass out. That means having to avoid tripping over them where the underpass narrows. Well, it narrows because someone is sleeping or sitting on the one side and people strolling South or North have a smaller area to pass. The smells and sights are oft vomit inducing. In fact, a little dance is sometimes required to delicately hop over piles of garbage, urine puddles, and barf splatters! The B.O. furthermore clogs the air and one must hold their breath whilst performing the 8th Street Underpass Tango.
To add to the mottled experience of using the pedestrian corridor, sometimes a flock of sparrows is attracted to the leftover, rotting food left by the nomads. These aren’t just your run of the mill friendly, singing, delightful sparrows. No, these are devil spawn that are probably near-sighted and tipsy from consuming the high sodium junk food content of the scattered food stuffs and leftover alcohol that the vagrants forgot to finish. The little bastards flutter around the especially cramped sections of the underpass. They don’t even try to wait until you’ve moved on before they turn into violent missiles of rabies or avian flu aiming directly for your legs or face. Many a time I’ve almost been smacked in the head by these drunk birds!
As I pass by the section where these birds are known to dwell, I try to avoid eye contact to prevent any sort of provocation of a flighted attack. IT NEVER SEEMS TO WORK!!! What the hell do these assholes want anyway? I don’t have bird seed and I’m not carrying beer. So please fuck off!
Sometimes I mutter “Love and light, love and light” as I amble on and that doesn’t seem to have any effect either. Screaming all manner of profanities at the winged hooligans, I quicken my pace to get the hell out of there!
Had I known the 8th Street underpass was basically an aviary for dumb, angry birds I’d probably stop using it. I can deal with the unsavouries and grossness. But those shitty little birds are something else.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED, PEOPLE!