It is Parade morning for the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, The Calgary Stampede! Getting to work this morning was an arduous journey. The road was clogged by buses laden with parade goers and marching bands heading to the round-up area. Horse drawn wagons vied with pedestrians attempting to cross downtown avenues where the crowd was already forming in anticipation of the parade.
It was a stampede! Cars. Trucks. Wagons. People. Horses. And a clown. One very energetic (especially for 7:30 in the morning) clown who was attempting to keep the crowds entertained along one stretch of the parade route that I had to pass through. He juggled. Spun. Made funny faces and put smiles on the faces of those waiting for the parade to begin at nine which would hopefully get to their area by eleven.
I got to watch the clown because I was in my car. Stuck. In a traffic jam of five lanes of traffic narrowing to one to get through the mass of people lining the roadway.
It was unusually busy this morning. Will and Kate are here and an anticipated 300,000 people will be out in hopes of catching a glimpse of the fabled royal couple.
Call me crazy but seriously... I can see staking out my spot to watch the parade. Heck, when my daughters were little I too was part of the masses crammed into the downtown core. But... for a two second glimpse of two strangers? Though, given that they've just spent the past two days in Alberta, maybe I shouldn't be calling them strangers. They've been in our homes, on our electronic devices, plastered on the front page, second page, third and all the way to the back page of every newspaper and online media outlet.
I'm getting royally weary.
But I digress.
At the shelter where I work, this morning is the only morning we close our doors and sweep everyone out. It's not that we want them to watch the parade -- though it could be fun. It is that in Calgary, when the parade is on, every employer has to provide their staff the morning off to watch. Which leaves us short-staffed and thus, to ensure the safety of everyone, including the building, we shut our doors on good weather parade days -- and today is one of those. Yee Haw!
As I drove in through our gates (at the terminus of my twenty minute drive that took me forty-five minutes this morning), I had to avoid driving over clients stretched out along our sidewalks and parking area.
See, this may be the friendliest town on earth, but for the people we serve, friendly hands don't always stretch across the economic barriers that keep some folk livin' on the wrong-side of the street. Friendly don't mean everyone. It just means those we choose to include as long as they comply with societal norms of conduct -- including dressing the part of 'normal' and not acting out in ways that would embarrass us in front of the eyes of the world turned to watch today's spectacular spectacle unfold.
It's Stampede in cowtown and I am already weary. A pre-stampede function two nights in a row for this 'get me to bed' early cowgirl is too much mid-week play! Gotta find me a place in the sun when I can sit back, tip my hat over my eyes and catch me a few winks.
But wait. This is cowtown. We don't allow vagrants to catch forty, or even five winks on a bench. That's against the law, pardner. Gotta keep them streets clean. Gotta make it all purdy for our guests.
And so, the gap widens as those who have nothing eye everything they can't have in this city laden with Stampede spirit and little place for them to rest along our streets.