COLUMN: Downtown on uneasy street

On the drive home, I took extra comfort in the fact we live in Sooke.

By Rick Stiebel

The bride and I made one of our handful of trips a year into the big city recently to get the car serviced, which translates into me passing time outside a dozen thrift stores and shops while she hunts down that rare bargain that escaped her grasp in Sooke.

I was standing outside Russell Books on Fort Street near the heart of the downtown core on this particular sun-soaked Saturday morning, just another face in the blurring bustle of people of all ages going about whatever it is they were up to. Shoppers with bags already in hand or slung across their shoulders, people enjoying a coffee and pastry on the collection of brightly coloured building-block configurations that pass as downtown picnic tables where parking spaces used to be, and parents making their way wherever with collections of kidlets in tow.

There was one fellow right outside the store secretively nursing a beer that he kept out of sight under his jacket between guzzles occassionally greeting a portion of the passers he was familiar with a friendly hello.

He was seated on the sidewalk beside a bicycle that was probably worth more than my car, and mentioned to someone who asked about it that he was watching it for a friend.

The peaceful, laid back but active vibe that permeated the area felt like something right out of a tourist infomercial; welcome to our friendly downtown.

Unfortunately for everyone within a one-block radius,  any warm and fuzzies they were feeling were flushed down the sewer in a river of rage when the owner of the bicycle returned.

The level of agitation was visibly palpable in his demeanour and body language before he even opened his mouth. After reaching into the back pack on his bike for a beer, he launched into a high decibel tirade of f-bombs peppered with other vulgar words, creating new profanities with each angry utterance that targeted every gender, race, lifestyle and -with apologies to our American neighbours, nationality.

It seems he was upset with the service at a nearby financial institution and wanted everyone within shout shot to foment in his wrath.

At one point he yanked out his wallet and waved six crisp hundred dollar bills around like a knife between curses. That added a level of confusion for frozen onlookers because it would seem he had been successful with whatever transaction had triggered his tirade.

Those finishing their fresh-baked treats and sandwiches couldn’t get the last bite down fast enough while those blindsided by the outburst tried to race past him without making eye contact.

I was forced to watch this for a few excruciatingly long minutes before my wife finally exited the bookstore. As we hurried across the street at a pace that would shame speed walkers, he kicked it up a noticeable notch, the profanities only fading as the distance between us and Mr. Mayhem increased.

I found myself wondering how long the disruption continued, if the police responded, or simply filed it under nothing out of the ordinary on a weekend day downtown.

On the drive home, I took extra comfort in the fact we live in Sooke. I couldn’t imagine that scene unfolding in our little burg without some sort of immediate police presence, which reinforced in a roundabout way why our trips into Victoria will remain few and far between.

•••

Rick Stiebel is a Sooke resident and semi-retired journalist.

 

 

Just Posted

Swanwick Ranch in Metchosin, featuring an award-winning home on 67 acres of property overlooking the ocean, recently sold for a record-setting, yet undisclosed amount. (Sotheby’s International Realty Canada photo)
Sale of oceanfront property in Metchosin yields new record for Greater Victoria

Listed at $14.1 million, Swanwick Ranch sold to an undisclosed buyer

The price of gas is way up in many parts of Greater Victoria after a Monday afternoon surge sent it to 162.9 cents per litre. (Black Press Media file photo)
Gas prices surge to 162.9 cents a litre at some Greater Victoria stations

Prices jumped up more than 10 cents Monday afternoon

Mieran Loira, who works at Moxie’s restaurant on Yates Street, was named a winner in the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association’s #StandUpForService campaign. (Courtesy Town Hall Brands)
Victoria Moxies server can’t hide her smile, earns provincial kudos for pandemic work

Personality, charisma shine despite masks, coronavirus challenges

The number of skilled trades workers available is not enough to fill the current construction boom in Greater Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Influx of skilled tradespeople falling behind Greater Victoria construction boom

Thousands of positions will be needed by 2030, despite flow of Camosun trades students

Research into the city of Victoria’s economic recovery through the pandemic shows things to be moving in the right direction. (Photo courtesy City of Victoria)
Data shows Victoria experiencing gradual economic recovery

Statistics for early 2021 show promising returns as Victoria 3.0 begins to take hold

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Val Litwin is the latest candidate to declare his bid for the B.C. Liberal leadership. (Litwin campaign video)
Political newcomer joins contest for B.C. Liberal leadership

Val Litwin a former B.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO

Golden Ears Mountains, captured in May 2021. (Black Press Media files)
2nd year of day passes required for entry into 5 provincial parks launches in B.C.

Pilot program seeks to protect the environment by addressing visitor surges amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Lincoln Mckoen. (YouTube)
Anglican bishop of the central Interior resigns over sexual misconduct allegations

Lincoln Mckoen was elected as a bishop of the Territory of the People region last year

The former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc reserve. (Allen Douglas/Kamloops This Week)
Tk’emlups preparing for archaeological work at B.C. residential school site where remains found

The 215 graves are, to the band’s knowledge, undocumented deaths for which it is still collecting records

Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. Quebec’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions will allow 2,500 fans to attend the game for the first time in fourteen months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Two-thirds of Canadians say governments shouldn’t lift all COVID-19 restrictions

Poll reports Canadians who gained pandemic weight say they have gained 16 pounds on average

Paul Bernardo is shown in this courtroom sketch during Ontario court proceedings via video link in Napanee, Ont., on October 5, 2018. Teen killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo is set for a parole hearing today. The designated dangerous offender, has been eligible for full parole for more than three years. Bernardo’s horrific crimes in the 1980s and early 1990s include for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy near St. Catharines, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning
Killer rapist Paul Bernardo faces parole hearing today; victim families opposed

Designated dangerous offender has been eligible for full parole for more than three years.

People look over the damage after a tornado touched down in Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal, Monday, June 21, 2021. Dozens of homes were damaged and one death has been confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
One dead and extensive damage as tornado hits Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal

Damage reported in several parts of the city, and emergency teams dispatched to sectors hardest hit

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Most Read