Watching the alleyway is a never ending source of entertainment. Which is not to say that I spend my time glued to my window, but from time to time, as I go about my life, I catch amusing and sometimes poignant glimpses of the lives of other people.
For example, every night, if I happen to be in my apartment around 8 pm, I watch one of the employees of the sushi place, still wearing the little white hat and apron, get INTO the dumpster behind the restaurant, so as to be better able to compact the trash by jumping up and down on it. For about five minutes, he jumps on the trash as though he’s ten years old and it’s some kind of stinky, fishy bed.
Later in the week, I happen to see a young man park his car next behind the apartment building. It’s about 11 p.m., and he is clearly heading out to one of the local clubs down the street. He looks left, looks right, doesn’t see anyone, and heads to the front of his car to relieve himself against the apartment wall. He doesn’t think that anyone can see him. But I see him.
And this morning, as I am making a cup of chai tea and bowl of oatmeal, I watch as a little old man, wheeling a small suitcase, stops at the dumpsters, keenly interested in the clothing and…tablecloths (?) that have been tossed into the trash. He spends a long time looking at a large white tablecloth before putting it into his suitcase. He doesn’t look homeless, it seems as though he is heading towards the market on Spadina, and just happened upon a different kind of stall. One where all of the items are free, and there is no need to haggle.
He sees a little old lady approaching, and he rushes to move away from the dumpsters, walking and wheeling as fast as his little legs will carry him. She is wearing a pale blue coat, and is heading towards the dumpsters. Did he get to the dumpster first? Are these urban dwelling people somehow related to those suburban, garage sale hopping seniors who try to one-up each other by arriving first to the big sale?
I watch for a while as the woman holds up pants, clearly trying to determine the size. My kettle is ready. I make tea, stir oatmeal, tend to the washing machine. By the time I return to the window, she too is leaving the dumpster, with a bag full of items. “What a score”, she must be thinking to herself, in whatever kind of vernacular she employs.
Tonight the city is supposedly becoming “one big art gallery”, courtesy of City Hall and Scotiabank’s pocketbooks. If only they knew about the alley that I can see from my window.