What a long, strange trip it’s been. Looking back, it’s actually a struggle to remember the countless things I’ve crammed into these whirlwind few months in the great white North. What I have crammed, however, is a reckless amount of delicious foodstuffs, into my mouth with the apparent sole intention of clinical obesity by 26. It doesn’t help that the national dishes of Canada are poutine or mac and cheese, depending on who you speak to.
Yeah, that middle one is a CHIMICHANGA. If slow death by saturated fat wasn’t enough, I have also set a personal vendetta against my liver, who has been promoted to a senior role with extra responsibility and zero benefits. He (of course my liver is a guy. Because women have no filter) was woefully unprepared for the abuse I’ve been putting him through. Vancouver has an amazing craft beer scene, and I have become a craft beer scene kid.
Unfortunately my personal quest to sample as many craft brews as I can has caused my liver to break out of my ribcage and go into hiding, probably somewhere tropical.
Said Gandhi, “If I stop drinking all at once, I’m afraid the cumulative hangover will kill me.” It doesn’t help that I’ve been working in a liquor store.
Oh yeah! I got a job. I’ve been charming locals and demonstrating complete lack of knowledge at a bottle-o near downtown for next to minimum wage (which is about half of Perth minimum wage). The fact that it is located smack bang in the middle of Gaytown, with many of the roads painted a vibrant pink and pride flags slapped onto most storefronts, has been the source of many of my tips (hahahahaha). It is, in short, gayer than a purse full of rainbows, and it’s been an endless source of entertainment. It’s significantly better to have customers who break into your house to redecorate it as opposed to just stealing your TV.
Apart from educating myself on local breweries and the difference between Trappist ales and triple IPAs, I also discovered the website ratebeer.com, where you swipe right if you fancy a particular brew (not really, you just rate them out of 100). The local beer guru, a charming gentleman with a beard that would stop a small truck and about 3,500 different beer tastings under his belt, told me he’d never seen a beer rated below 10/100 before. So of course, my first search query was the glorious redcan of ages. To the surprise of no one at all, Emu Export scores a 3/100. Fancy that, I thought. I then took it upon myself to find a beer that was so abysmal it would receive a single point out of 100. It took many hours, an emotional rollercoaster of blood, sweat and tears. But, finally, I found what I sought. Like Indy and the Holy Grail, I found the world’s worst beer. Can you guess what it is?
I’ll give you a hint. It’s Carlton. Fucking. Dry. 1/100. I could not make this up.
Not all the customers are upstanding individuals though. As I may have mentioned, homelessness is a major problem here, mostly because the city did a bunch of reno it couldn’t afford for the Olympics and promptly abandoned it shortly afterwards. And I’ve accidentally stumbled into the hive nest. Many times now, in fact. And you know what? I’ve been accosted a grand total of zero times. I get harassed more walking down the street back home than I do in the most run down parts of Vancouver.
My first foray into hobo town began innocently enough. I was strolling through Gastown, the local epicentre of culture, cafes, tattoo parlours and tacky gift shops. Right next door, I moved on to Chinatown, where the signs are all in Chinese and there’s a faint smell of dim sum. However, strolling on, without warning the scenery changed to run down alleys littered with syringes, multi coloured sleeping bags, people living out of shopping carts (sorry. trolleys) and a smell like fermenting trash bags. You know, aside from standing in a line at a soup kitchen, it’s sometimes hard to tell if someone is homeless here if you can’t smell them directly, because people like to dress like they’re homeless. That is, lots of layers and plaid chic. Huh, maybe that’s why they leave me alone. There was one woman who yelled at me and some friends to "go back to where we came from", but all that did was warm my heart and remind me of Australia.
Really, though, the only vaguely unsettling thing happened after a gig one night. I witnessed a guy barrel through the bus line and push his way on. “YO, DRIVER! THIS GUY IS CHASING ME, MAN, HE’S CRAZY, MAN, PLEASE HELP ME!” he screamed, eyes and tongue darting around like Barty Crouch Jr. The driver looked nonplussed and pretended to receive a text on his phone.
Rampaging after this guy was a friendly bald gentlemen who looked like he was on a steady diet of twinkies and methamphetamine. He said, and no word of a lie, I quote.
“COME OUT HERE YOU LITTLE TUTTI FRUTTI. I DON’T WANT TO HURT YOU. I JUST WANT TO TALK.”
The guy stormed onto the bus, walked straight past his victim who was doing his best impression of an inanimate seat warmer, and promptly stormed off again, slapping the windows on the way out. We heard glass smashing and his yelling fade away as the bus slowly departed, and the guy who was being chased broke down sobbing. The rest of us shared looks somewhere between bemused and terrified.
But that’s, like, a casual Tuesday on the Armadale line.