Sunday, May 12, 2013

Where the Streets Have No People

You know in post-apocalyptic movies like I Am Legend, where the main character is walking through big-city streets, with skyscrapers towering on either side of him but there's not a soul around? That's what downtown Winnipeg is like after 6pm. I had heard this already, but I couldn't really comprehend it until I was actually there. On Friday evening (yes, a Friday! This isn't just a during-the-week phenomenon) my friend Evelyn and I headed downtown to the movie theatre, to watch The Great Gatsby on opening night (great film! Highly recommended! Awesome cinematographic choices and excellent acting, though 3D seemed unnecessary, like usual.). We were downtown around 7pm or so, so it wasn't even dark yet, but there was just no one around. And because Winnipeg is so flat, you can see straight down all the streets you cross, as far as the eye can see, and see no one at all.

It's like this, except the bridges aren't all smashed and stuff.

It wasn't as if we weren't "downtown enough", so don't try that argument - we were basically as downtown as you can get. But even so, the theatre had a grand total of 20 people, including ourselves. For opening night. Of a highly anticipated movie.

I'm not sure you can imagine what it was all like, but it was very, very surreal, and it really struck me. As I mentioned in my last post, Osborne Village, another neighbourhood about 20 minutes from downtown, is the  place where people actually go on a weekend evening. I guess all of this is because of the extreme poverty in the downtown core, and the associated social problems that come with it, including gang activity (in the 90's, Winnipeg was the gang capital of Canada, though it has since been replaced by Vancouver).

Then, of course, on the way back after the movie, I got on the wrong bus that took me "north of Portage". Portage St. is one of the main roads in Winnipeg, running East-West, and there is a general sense that north of it is the "sketchy", poorer neighbourhoods, while south of it are the safer, wealthier neighbourhoods. So on the bus, when I realized we had turned north, I was gripped by panic and had my smartphone out, using up my data plan trying to figure out where I was and where I was going. Eventually, I figured out where I was, got off the bus before I got farther away from home, and basically jogged south until I hit Portage again. Of course, nothing happened and the streets were empty, but I'd like to pretend it was a harrowing adventure.

Meanwhile, at work, I've survived my first week! And got my first paycheck! Very exciting stuff, especially since it's the largest paycheck I've ever gotten, and I couldn't help feeling like this. With a week behind me now, I've gotten a good enough handle on what I'm doing that the work has become interesting. It now involves a fair amount of problem solving, which means I stay mentally stimulated. That being said, it is still accounting so there is also a decent amount of tedious data entry or data comparing.

I'm starting to see the need for my position: there is just so much to do in our department and I always have a ton of things that I could be doing. Specifically, I am in Crop Inputs, meaning I'm doing the accounting for the purchases of seeds and other things that help seeds grow, like fertilizer or pesticides. There are a bunch of locations across the prairies that are making these purchases, and they send all that info to me, where I make sure it all matches up with what the vendors are invoicing us for. This is kinda neat because I am actually required to be able to identify a lot of products based on their brand names: for example, I need to know that a product called SuperDuper (made-up name) is a fertilizer while OcuTron (also made-up) is a brand of canola seed. I didn't expect to be so closely linked with the agricultural aspect of the company, but it's interesting and gives me lots more to learn.

This weekend I explored my neighbourhood of Wolseley a bit too. Evelyn and I went to a Community Art Festival at the neighbourhood Community Centre. It was cute, and there were even some cool art pieces and crafts. The best part was just the feeling of community you could feel in an event like that. And walking, properly, through the streets of Wolseley (I leave on the edge of the neighbourhood, and normally head away from it on my way to work) I got to appreciate it's beauty. Quiet, tree-lined streets, with beautiful "character homes". There seem to be a smattering of shops and restaurants as well, so it will be great to check those out too! So basically what I'm trying to say is that I love where I'm living!

But now: let Week 2 begin!

P.S. There is no snow here hahahaha! And Happy Mother's Day!!

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