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

Province announces more improvements for Highway 14

$85-million project made possible through federal funding support

Wild Wise Sooke founder leaves post

Lush Cosmetics offers much-needed funding for the group

UVic partners with harm reduction groups to run a drug checking pilot project

The three-year pilot will allow people to test their drugs for fatal ingredients like fentanyl

Public asked to give feedback on proposed protection measures for southern resident orcas

Measures focus on key threats related to contaminants, lack of prey, noise or physical disturbance

Many teens unaware if they’re vaping nicotine or not

Health Canada survey finds many youth are unaware of the risks of using nicotine products

WATCH: Police call Happy Valley shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident

One person in custody, another fled following crash on Kelly Road

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

Should B.C. parents receive money if they make sure their kids are vaccinated?

New survey looks at public opinion around government’s role in forcing immunizations

Music Monday to unite students across Sooke in song

Over 200 students will carol around town on May 6

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

POLL: Do you think the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris should be rebuilt?

Images of one of the word’s most iconic landmarks were seared into… Continue reading

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Most Read