Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Crack House

A few years ago, my wife and I decided it was time to move from our trendy neighbourhood condo to a house with a proper yard further from the city. When we bought our house we paid 400K for it and over the last 2 years our house price has grown to a market value of 600K. The dilapitated shack next to us was torn down and 2 new heritage style houses were built in it's place, each sold for under 800K. All around us, new houses are popping up replacing old run-down houses. Amazing what the economy and the housing market can do to transform a neighbourhood.

So this is where I stop whistling Andy Griffiths and bring out the depressing Oboe. Since we have been here, there's this one piece of crap house that the entire neighbourhood knows is a crack house. Who owns it? Some dude in China who probably hasn't laid foot in Canada in ten years. Who lives in it? A pretty unattractive prostitute. Who visits her? Well a lot of people... and when I use the term people I'm actually being very kind and forgiving because these so called people are the assholes of the city. Literally, they shit and spit on our clean neighbourhoods with crime, drugs and prostitution. They pollute our streets with needles, condoms and urine. I'm not exaggerating when I say that these people are dogs. They are the scum that stains our toilet bowls. The only value I find in these people is that they are the measuring stick of social failure. Son, see that strung out junkie breaking into that car for some spare change to pay for his next fix? Yah, don't be like him when you grow up.

Let me paint a picture: One beautiful day, a few months after moving in, I look out my front window and see some dude sitting on one of my landscape rocks by the sidewalk. I watched him for a bit and was ready to go out and ask if he's okay. He seemed agitaged and uneasy. But when he took off his leather jacket, I realized that this is one dude I don't want to approach. He was about 7', with a beautifully sculpted mullet. His shirt said: "If you fuck with me, I'll fuck you up". Nice! I wanted to ask him if he bought that at the Dog's Ear shirt shop. But I didn't. Instead I watched him pace around on the side walk, until he eventually lay down, yes lay down, on my front walk. This is the walk that leads to my front door. A walk that anyone would use, including my wife if she were to park out front. I was now extremely confused, nervous and annoyed. I called the police finally but by the time they arrived, the burly hulk of a trailer park had run up to a moving chevy astro van, made some sort of exchange with the driver and both van and trailer park dissappeared. I witnessed my first drug exchange right outside the comforts of my own home. Who needs cable anyway!

I noticed more and more of this going on in front of my house, in front of neighbours houses, up the street at the corner of my block and police got tired of my 911 calls. "Sir, if it's not an emergency then stop calling us." Excuse me, they are dealing drugs right outside my fuckin' house as we talk! To which the operator so proudly points out: "Well it's probably pay day, or the crack dealers got a new shipment..." Oh gee, thanks, I don't know what I was freaking out about, have a nice day! click. I thought it totally ironic, even comical that these 'people' would park out front and walk to the crack house, but not before setting their car alarm. Car alarm? Dude that's a car you swiped! It's like two lawyers giving eachother disclaimers. It's just weird!

So I'm at my wits end, I've called crime stoppers, the police drug agency, my MP, and even read up on how to torch a crack house. But everything seems to either trail off to empty promises or jail time. Now Charles Bronson went all vigilante in Death Wish - but I don't have the luxury of stunt doubles so no thank you.

For now I have a full perimeter fence, a garage that with an automatic door, an alarm and a 100lb dobermann who is got the loudest growl/bark on the block. Not one problem on our property since Trailer Joe had a nap on our front walk *knock on wood*. However, I'm still looking for options to fix the neighbourhood. One fantasy, provided resources were available, would be to create awareness in all neighbourhoods of problem housing, identify those culprits and weed them out through exposure, constant surveillance, and a confident and capable united block of neighbours.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Public Transit

Two things on the top of my least-favourite list: transit drivers, and sitting next to a crack-head who smells like he's had a bubble bath in diarrhea, on public transit. Seriously, that's a crappy start to any work day - about to pitch a storyboard to a client and worrying whether Mr. Poop Stain rubbed off any of his eau de toilette on my Hugo Boss - I swear I can still smell it.

Actually, I don't mind sharing public transit with any form of life, but when they pollute my personal space with smells of poo, vomit, urine and festering rotting flesh wounds, then I get annoyed. I know, public transit is open to anyone and everyone...thus the name public transit, but oh what a joy if there were classes of seats like on an airplane or most trains. A half inch glass between me and nasty would encourage me to get back on the big bad bus. Or, maybe I should get off my high chair and carpool in a smart car to work everyday - then my personal space is guaranteed to remain clean and pleasant, a little enrique iglesias, some AC on those hot days, and yielding to the merging bus drivers. Sweet!

Okay, say I do drive in to work, I still can't find the love for public enemy numero dos: transit drivers. You know why? Cause of that "thanks for the break" sign on the back of the bus. No thank YOU for side swiping me off the road you big galloot. How about my other all time favourite - "Yield - it's the law!": wait, if that's a law then what do you call the right to run over pedestrians crossing at a crosswalk - is that also a law?

As a pedestrian crossing a downtown crosswalk I'm pretty much a dead man especially with a fleet of disgruntled Teamsters driving the city busses. No, tooting your horn when you run me over doesn't make it any safer. And if, god forbid, I am crossing on a green light in front of a turning bus who didn't beat me to the punch, I get the dramatic screech inches from certain peril, the blaring horn-lean, and some choice cussing directed my way. Dude, why the aggro fit? A) I have the right of way. B) It's not like you're sitting next to Mr. Poo-Man minutes before the pitch of your career, and C) 15 seconds of waiting for your turn is not gonna kill you - the Teamsters might - but 15 seconds won't.

Here is a suggestion: if you don't like driving a city bus as a job, move on to driving a taxi or a greyhound. Hell, pull a rickshaw around and burn some big mac muscles! In fact, go on Lavalife, meet people, talk to them, get laid. Co-existing with members of the same species in not a bad word. Neither is responsibility or accountability. Hell, that's what our tax dollars pay for, that and half way houses - but that's another story.

*This article was written two days after a near death experience with a Bus. Oh and yes my suit did in fact smell like vomit - this was confirmed when the client whispered to my partner: "Is Rob a hobo? He smells like one."