My next post was going to be about a Telegraph Journal column by David Campbell on adult literacy and the economy. It was in the business section, and it said what always gets said - ie, NBer's don't read well enough and that's why nobody can make a buck around here. But, well….
I got up a little late this morning, pulled up the CBC news online, and read about an apartment building that had been overcome by a stiff rain:
Five adults and seven children in Saint John are homeless after their north-end apartment building was declared unsafe following several days of heavy rain.
In a neighbourhood where buildings are often damaged by fire, it was the rain that forced three families out of their homes this week.
Several days of wet weather caused a buildup of water, which damaged the building's electricity.
The Saint John Fire Department decided the apartment building was no longer safe and shut off the power. The three families were forced to move into a hotel.
I skipped breakfast, running late, because I wanted to get uptown before the heat and do some banking. Despite their promise, Bayview Credit Union, once again, refused me access to my money. That was last weekend and, since I work long days most days, I couldn't get in to talk to them until today. Over time, I decided it was best not to talk to them at all: I'd just pull out a wad of cash and open an account across the street at Scotia Bank. Alas, the Bank of Nova Scotia doesn't open before 10 in the morning. I walked down the hill to the Toronto Dominion Bank and half-heartedly stuck my head in. It was open, but full of two dozen customers and only two clerks. Anyway, they've been paying Frank McKenna big money to tour about and insult NB literacy workers (e.g).
Back up the hill I trudged, past people lined up outside Scotia Bank, and on to Cora's. I was thinking I'd have breakfast - you remember I hadn't had it yet - and then stop by the bank. Sadly, Cora's was also over-busy and under-staffed. I waited about 10 minutes at the head of the restaurant (they have a 'please wait to be seated' policy) watching the busboy clear, wipe and reset tables up by the windows. While I was waiting, somebody scooped ice from a nearby ice machine. A stray ice cube skittered out into the main aisle. She eyed it for a moment, and then walked away. I eyed it too, thinking that after it melted a little, somebody was going to step on it and have a nasty fall. I hoped they weren't holding a pot of hot coffee right then. Finally, a waitress yelled "How many?" across the restaurant at me. I held up one finger. She tossed a menu into a booth and said "There you go," walking away. "I'd like a table," I shouted after her, thinking I'd like a coffee, too. (Most booths don't work with my back.) "By the window?" she asked. "Sure," I said, assuming she was offering me a window seat. "Well," she grumped, "you'll have to go back and wait because I'll have to clear one." Never caring to eat where the people who make my meals are pissed off at me, I demurred and wandered off home.
"Screw it," I thought. "I'll go down to the convenience store and get a loaf of bread, some bacon and eggs, and cook my own breakfast." (The mixed commercial and residential center of Saint John, where I live, doesn't have a grocery store - or a department store, or a hardware store, though we do have 26 bars.) But, no. The convenience store didn't have eggs. Or bread. "Well, there's the stuff in the video room in back," he said. But that's the mouldy stuff he sells for a dollar. I'm not that desperate, yet. I just plodded home, made a coffee, and carried my laundry across the street to start my weekend chores. That means that in 2 hours I engaged in exactly $2 worth of economic activity.
(Did I mention the families who had to move because it rained?)
If today, someone in a suit tells me the problem with Saint John's economy is that people aren't literate enough, I'm going to punch them out.