by Derek Royden
I failed to correctly set my alarm clock; this gives you about all the information you need to assess my preparedness for life in general. I was a little beer groggy but itching to get to the march. First off, of course, one of my steadily growing number of room-mates needed to run to the dealer for weed. This meant waiting and …more waiting.
Thus, we were late before we started.
Thing was, I’d promised my editor at the news-site where I work I was going to check out the Anti-Austerity protests that are still bringing thousands to the streets of my city, Montreal, a bastion of anarchic fun in a country that increasingly makes Norway look like a party.
Anyway, one of my companions, I’ll call him Pete, refuses to pay for public transport because he doesn’t have any money. This creates a huge amount of anxiety for me whenever we travel together. I live in fear of metro cops, bad enough I’m poverty stricken but damn it, I pay for the train.
On this particular day, I’m lucky because I have to wait for a moron who can’t cope with a text message and buying a ticket at the same time. I go through the turnstile long after Pete, who waits through multiple trains before I finally arrive.
The train is filled with more phone-zombies; there is a complete and utter lack of the wide-eyed revolutionary spirit I was hoping for. I spend alot of time locked in my room because reality never meets my expectations, most of which I owe to Russian novels and the works of Philip K Dick.
By the time we get to the park where everyone was supposed to meet up, they’re all gone. We stop a couple minutes basking in the first sunny day any of us can remember. Soon after, I spot a girl with a sign going south.so I rally our small cohort and we follow her down the hill. At the bottom we are confronted by about fifty cop cars and vans.
“At last!” I think, “After years of waiting, something interesting is about to happen!”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, we did however, manage to catch up to the march. It wasn’t that hard after I ascertained that that was probably where the sound of bagpipes was coming from. Also, what looked to be a TV news reporter ran past me, camera crew in tow.
For some reason we all started running too and, aside from the chest pains, we were happy to find ourselves now a part of the crowd. This didn’t last long as we made a wrong turn a few blocks later and wound up on a side street where we were confronted by riot police who seemed to be led by a tiny woman who looked about 15. They blocked the way and wouldn’t let us rejoin the march.
“Check it out, that cop’s wearing hockey pads!” said Pete, laughing.
And it was true, a couple of the police in riot gear were wearing shin pads that seemed to be held up by duct tape. This made the whole thing seem less police state than Keystone Cops.
A red-faced guy, maybe 30 came up stood alongside us. Seeing the cops and then the protesters streaming north in front of us he turned and said, “Assholes! That’s where I was going!”
“You could always just walk around the block,” I replied, trying to be helpful.
The very suggestion that he should be even momentarily inconvenienced seemed to enrage him even more, he raised both his hands in what I call “the twin bird salute” and screamed, “Fuck you! Fuck you!” at the crowd who had already passed out of hearing.
A moment later the cops retreated to continue stalking the crowd and Mr. Angry was able to continue to his destination unmolested by dirty hippies with their demands for health-care and affordable education.
The next couple of hours were spent searching for and occasionally rejoining the marchers whose numbers dwindled the further north they traveled. The cops seemed to have won the day, forcing the protesters down deserted streets. After crossing a long overpass with a few stragglers we decided to make our way home.
I don’t know, maybe May Day will be more of a thing.