On the street corner, I pause. My Canon Rebel hangs heavy around my neck, apparently feeling the weight of the dreary day as much as I am. We came out on this walk specifically for the purposes of photo hunting, my camera and I, but have yet to find a muse.
Nobody said these 365 day challenges were supposed to be easy.
I’m about to push the button for the pedestrian-controlled light on Burrard when I happen to look back at the last storefront I passed. A recently defunct bath and kitchen fixture shop whose vacant interior I had initially dismissed after a cursory glance. But now that I look again, isn’t there something strangely pleasing about the dated tackiness of the white wrought iron staircase that leads to the store’s second level? Don’t the retro lines just somehow seem to *pop* amid the green profusion of leaves reflected in the window?
I backtrack from the curb, taking the lens cap off as I move, and get to work framing my shot.
I’m just snapping my first photo when a voice hacksaws through my concentration. A rough, grating, carrying voice that makes my spine itch. You know the kind. Like the owner’s vocal cords have done time in a cement mixer. The Voice of a Hundred Thousand Marlboros.
“HEY, LADY!” caws The Voice.
I ignore it.
The Voice could be calling out to anyone, after all. I don’t need to assume every Tom, Dick and Harriet yelling salutations to ladies on the street is referring to me. And besides, I’m busy. I bring up the preview of my test shot in the viewfinder and then fiddle with my camera settings.
“HEY, LADY!” repeats The Voice.
Against my better judgement, I sneak a look out of my peripheral vision. A woman in a beat-up red Toyota Corolla is leaning out the driver’s side window with a cigarette hanging from the corner of her mouth, staring in my direction.
She clearly wants me to go push the button and change the light for her.
But she’s going to have to ask, and ask politely. I don’t respond to “hey, lady”.
I don’t respond to “yoo-hoo” either.
I feign deafness and continue snapping photos and adjusting settings.
She tries everything; whistling, flailing of hands, more calls of “hey, lady” and “yoo-hoo” and even a “HEY YOU OVER THERE!”
Everything except “Excuse me,” “I beg your pardon, but…” or “If it’s not too much trouble, could you…?”
Funny how those expressions aren’t in some people’s lexicons.
The Voice wastes at least two full minutes trying to talk AT me instead of to me. I take more photos than I could ever possibly need, just to rankle her. Finally there’s a natural break in Burrard’s six lanes of traffic, and she zooms off across the intersection, having learned absolutely nothing.
And I stroll over and push the button for the light.