March 3, 2001

Downtown (Part IV)

Continued from the last entry...

It was still too early for my appointment but I walked the remaining few blocks slowly, looking for details to put into an entry.

I found one - at the intersection of McGill College and de Maisonneuve Streets.

De Maisonneuve (named after Sieur de Maisonneuve, the founder of Montreal) is a one-way westbound street. A row of cars were waiting at a red light. I had the corresponding green to cross but was still on the sidewalk, contemplating a bicyclist who had stopped with the cars but looked like he wanted to go through.

Suddenly a second bicycle raced through the light without hesitation - directly into the path of an oncoming taxi.

I don't think either saw the other coming, as there was no swerving or screeching of tires - just a resounding (and horrifying) THWAP!

The bicycle flew into the air in several pieces; the rider ended up on his back on the pavement.

A crowd of people (including the taxi driver) immediately surrounded him; he was moving and talking and didn't appear badly hurt. I was still on the opposite street corner, reaching for my cell phone to call 911. There were others with cell phones but I figured more than one call wouldn't hurt. It was about the only way I could help - they didn't need another body hovering over the man.

I was somewhat annoyed at the 911 operator; she had me repeat everything twice and then switched me to another person to whom I had to explain it all over again. They also asked for my cell number, which I gave them, but the only reason for that I can think of would be to track false alarms.

They did ask if the man was pinned under the taxi; he wasn't. While I was still on the phone, he managed to get up and walk to the curb; his face was rather bloody. A few minutes later the ambulance arrived.

One would think that people wouldn't ride bicycles in Montreal in the winter, and fewer do than during the rest of the year; I think this man was a courier - he had a rather large, official-looking backpack and did seem to be in a rush. Although there was some ice on the sidewalks, the roads were clear and dry.

I wandered off; there was nothing for me to do there. I knew I'd have a long wait at the doctor's but that didn't sound like a bad idea, as I was somewhat shaken by that scene.

Except.. the doctor's building itself was a source of worry. It had been the scene of a fire only five days previously - a rather strange fire in that no alarms or sprinklers were activated in the 23 story building. The fire was on the fifth floor, and people on other floors gradually became aware of it because of the smell of smoke. They evacuated through the stairwell and although there were some injuries, nobody was killed. I had called to make sure the office was open, but I had some reservations about being there.

The building looked fairly normal except for some boarded-up windows; the elevator happened to stop at the fifth floor (some cleaning service people were on it with me) and that was quite a sight. Everything was covered in black soot, it was dark (no electric lights) and wires were hanging out of the ceiling.

The office on the nineteenth floor was fine, though. I sat down by a window with a lovely view of the McGill campus and Mount Royal, took out my notebook and wrote. It felt normal.

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of my father's hospitalization. I was going to write an entry about it, and got as far as rereading the March 2 entry from last year.

No.. I'm not going to make myself go through it again. Even though the experience had a happy ending (for now, anyway) it was probably the worst two months of my life.

If I could have looked a year into the future then, it would have given me some comfort - but generally I'm content to not know what the future holds. Does that make me a pessimist or a realist?

...Which lends itself to a forum question.. would you look into the future if you could?
Or catch up on the discussion of why we read, and more recently, why we write. Great stuff! (I can say that 'cause I didn't initiate the threads!)

Linque Du Jour:   Disturbing Auctions

As described:

This site is dedicated to the research and study of the most bizarre items found for sale on internet auction sites. Not the obviously fake auctions, like the infamous human kidney, but truly tacky stuff that people really, honestly, believed that someone would (and in some cases did) buy.

I won't even provide examples. (I get too many search engine hits from perverts as it is!) You just have to see it. Be sure to check the "daily" link too.

This array of unspeakable creations inspired me to search eBay for my own favourite type of debris.. dryer lint! And of course... it was there. Sadly, only a few weeks ago, someone attempted to sell a wad of their lint, with bidding beginning at 45 cents, but there were no takers.


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