Sorry …

12 March 2018 – “Sorry.”

And there you have it, in one word — the world’s image of Canadians.

We are so polite, and endlessly apologizing. Even to the person who has just stepped on our toes. (Fill in your own favourite Canadian joke right here.)

So this is surely the ultimate Canadian coffee shop. Never mind that it is sleek and classy, overlooking the equally sleek and classy Village of Yorkville Park.

It has ur-Canadian DNA.

I am not the first to make this connection. In January 2016, a BlogTO correspondent wrote:

Its name is a playful nod to Canadian politeness, as the stereotype says we tend to apologize all the time, and as my friend and I prove is true since we realize we’ve inadvertently said “sorry” about five times since we’ve arrived.

And the Sorry website says:

We’re here whether you need a dose of inspiration or just a sorry excuse to get away from it all.

Hmmm. Now for the awkward bit.

I feel compelled to reveal that I didn’t go in. I went & found myself a latte somewhere else.


Coffee Brake

18 October 2017 – Well, if they can talk about their Brake-fast menu, I can talk about my coffee brake…

I am in the Tandem Bike Café, having splish-sploshed my way around town for assorted reasons, and in the mood to reward myself for not whining — even to myself — about the rain.

See? Very wet.

Not the driving but relatively brief downpour I wrote about earlier, but the steady, determined kind of rain that you know can keep going for … oh … a week or so. As indeed is predicted.

But I am learning to be a Vancouverite. I am wearing my new Sorel rainboots, picked up at the local MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op), and a rainproof jacket, and wielding a spacious umbrella.

At the moment I am wielding a steaming latte instead, peering over its froth to both sides of this shop’s dual identity.

Left rear = bike repair & sales. Right rear = rest of the café seating.

Click-thunk, go the sound effects, as a steady stream of customers come through the door.

“Hi Nicole, my usual…” says one young man, adding he has plenty of time because he has just missed his bus.

Next a woman who keeps her eyes focused on the front window as she orders a lemon loaf. Then, obviously thinking, Well, that’s a bit rude, explains: “Sorry, I’m watching for the bus…”

I’m seated by that front window, next to the goodies display case, so I hear all the chat.

So does the gnome.

Summer he props open the front door; rainy season, he stands guard with the space heater.

The legs behind him belong to the customer picking up his coffee & cinnamon bun order. And lingering, because Nicole & Sonia behind the counter are reading him excerpts from a book of short stories. “This guy just dropped it off, free,” says one of them. “His mother wrote it and he’s handing out copies. And look — this story, we’re supposed to fill in the blanks.”

So the three of them bend their heads to the challenge.

The next click-thunk announces a bike-repair customer, plus malfunctioning bike. He veers left, not right. The consultation begins.

I’m just gathering my belongings — stash my phone where rain can’t reach it, zip my jacket to the top, retrieve the umbrella — when yet another customer starts debating the characteristics of this particular rainfall. I listen. Of course I do! Vancouverites discuss rain like the connoisseurs they are, and I need to learn this stuff.

“I know it’s going on all week,” he says. “That’s normal! It’s just normal Vancouver rain.”

I look out the window before I head off. This is what normal rain looks like, I tell myself.

Where’s Lemon-Loaf Lady? The next bus has just arrived.





    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

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