16:59. I sit on the train, looking out at the water and the mountains. As we come up to Second Narrows, I see dozens of crows flying about and perching on the trees. Yep, it’s that time of day. Hi, guys. Long time no see.
I was laid off last September, and spent the next few months looking for work. I haven’t written about it because… well, it just wasn’t that exciting to live through, and wouldn’t have been much fun to write about. Maybe some other time. But all’s well that ends well, and I’m again gainfully employed. This is the fourth week of my new job, and it’s been pretty interesting so far. A different culture (much larger and established company), different technologies, and a different routine, which honestly I’m still adjusting to. But on the whole it’s a positive experience, and part of that is my commute: for my new job is downtown, which means taking the West Coast Express.
And this train kicks so much ass. No more fighting rush hour traffic, all by myself in my car. I can relax, sit down, buy a muffin, listen to my iPod and read (or I would, if I weren’t so prone to motion sickness) and/or chat with friends and coworkers. And I’m magically whisked from the boonies to downtown (and back again, in the evening) in just over half an hour.
Best of all, I get to see the sights. Part of me feels like a tourist discovering Vancouver for the first time. Some things I’m familiar with: Burrard Inlet shrouded in early-morning fog; the North Shore mountains topped with snow, tinged orange-pink in the sunrise; the twinkly lights of North Vancouver. But I’m close to the water, and there are things I get to see close up, or from a different perspective. The ducks on the shore, completely unafraid of the big noisy metal thing rushing by. Passing under the Second Narrows Bridge. The big-ass cranes in the harbour, surrounded by containers from all over the world. The old sugar refinery, which for the longest time I thought was abandoned. The West Coast Reduction plant. The Shellburn Oil Refinery with its tall chimneys next to Burnaby Mountain. The sulfur storage facilities in Port Moody—which as far as I can tell consists only of honkin’ great piles of sulfur amidst the machinery. I’m not even clear how they transport it to and from the place. It has to be by train, though, since I can see streaks and piles of bright yellow on parallel tracks for a couple of miles westward.
Great stuff. Maybe I’ll get jaded someday, but right now it’s all new and fascinating.
Mind you, I also get to see decaying, graffiti’d building fronts as we get nearer downtown, with homeless people peeing in corners or sleeping in doorways. I’ve seen those sights enough times walking down Granville Street or driving through the East Side. It’s not all pretty scenery or productive industry. But, that’s part of my city too, and I won’t ignore it.