I enjoyed riding home along a freeway service road, and gazing up at a quiet brick building, huge lettering announcing that it’s a home for people, 55 and up. Ride past barbers, bakeries, delis, cafés, travel agency, Polish bookstore, Russian import store, restaurants, past the police station and strip mall.
Freeway service road world, I enjoy the spaciousness opened up as a result of a sunken freeway. A wide open space between east and west sides, a no-man’s land of speedy driving, often clogged arteries and irate motorists, buzzing like angry wasps hovering over lip mucous on a Styrofoam cup, dividing neighborhoods. A man in a BMW raced dangerously close to my body. I felt wind from the right bumper of the luxury car as it raced by, without respect for a lowly cyclist.
I’m not a bug to be squashed when a motorist blows a valve trying to get from one place to another. No wonder cyclists get angry. It takes nerve to drive the streets of Montreal. Safe travel requires respect between cyclist and motorist. Leave emotions and moralizing at home. One wrong move and somebody could get killed.
Freeway world, desolate, stark apartment blocks and giant billboards against the sky, the roar of noise and ripple of smog, the power of motion, collective vibes of racing from one destination to another. Hurry, hurry, hurry; get out of my way!
Then there’s the world of this basement apartment, the musty smell of carpet that hasn’t been changed in over twenty-years and rotting wood in the bathroom. I complained about it. The landlord said repair would be expensive. Of course, I’m free to change the carpet at my own expense. If I could afford to pay for repairs to this apartment, I wouldn’t be renting such a place. I’d rent a higher quality lodging.
The world is run on greed and self-interest, a trivial platitude. Talk to anyone not fortunate enough to be born into the ruling class and they’ll likely agree. Balzac’s La Cure de Tours could serve as a good instruction manual for today’s tenant and how to relate to landlords. I haven’t met a landlord who doesn’t neglect the upkeep of the tenant’s apartment. The tenant is supposed to get used to unpleasant situations, because repairs would cut into landlord profits. The assumption is that tenants exist in order to enrich the landlord and so tenants should endure lack of repair. It makes sense. A person goes into business to make money, not to help people. Business has nothing to do with charity, unless it’s a charitable organization, thriving on grants and so on.
There’s the world of the franchise café, with easy access and ample parking, cheapest coffee in town. Go there to get out of the apartment, to be among people. It’s good for the morale. Socialization could keep a man from going insane. It’s easy to become self-absorbed. Communicating could widen one’s mental horizon and puts things in perspective. Of course, one has to learn to tune out background music. I’m thinking of going to a medical supply store and investing in a pair of ear covers, which seal out noise, in order to enjoy coffee without the insidious, irritating background music. Who would be crazier, me for wearing such a device, or people for enduring and even liking the aggressive, noisy barrage of moronic fluff?