A Canadian Moment

When I emerged from Chapters the other day, I found Burrard Street blocked by a policeman who had parked his motorcycle and was directing traffic to either side. There appeared to be some kind of incident at the B.C. Supreme court – down the street were flashing lights and fire trucks. I wanted to cross the empty street behind him, but just as I reached the crosswalk the light turned red, so I stopped, as did a woman on the other side. We looked at him, but he went on directing cars as if we weren’t there. I waited to see if anyone would cross. They didn’t. We all stood there, obeying a meaningless red light and declining to cross a street blocked off and free of cars.

Now Robson is a busy street. All day the sidewalks are crammed with people – cruise ship passengers who have been let out for the day to shop, businessmen heading to lunch, students protesting on the steps of the art gallery. About a dozen people ended up standing on either side of the crosswalk. The policeman let us wait. Then the light changed to walk, and we all flooded out to cross the empty street.

2004-07-19

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