Last night was thinking about chai lattes. I used to love them.
The first time I had a chai latte was back in high school. I don’t if anyone remembers that cafe in the library across from the high school… but reflecting back, that was an extraordinary cafe. They made the best sandwiches there.
I went to high school in Coquitlam. The high school in Coquitlam (when I went to school there was just one, so you could say… THE high school) was across the street from the public library. In the library was a coffee shop. I remember it being an odd lot that hung out front, Marilyn Manson kids and the type. My friends never went there much but I sometimes snuck over to have a sandwich. God they were good. My friend Dave Younghusband who at this stage in life found Jesus with a zeal only a high school kid could muster, used to go to the coffee shop and he turned me onto the chai. They used the sticky sweet Oregon Chai brand which works for teenagers.
And it was strange because the cafe was right beside the high school but I never ran into anyone I knew there. I could go and eat a sandwich and drink a chai latte by myself.
It was weird thinking of that place the other day.
When I got a bit older I got a job working for Telus as a telemarketers and sometime customer-care rep. In the lobby of the Telus building in New West at 6th and 6th was a Starbucks. Every shift before hopping on the phones for four or five hours, I’d get a great big chai latte.
It got to the point where, really I went to work to get a chai. I hated Telus. I loved Starbucks.
I don’t know how it came about… but at a family dinner or something I was talking to my cousin Monica and she was saying that she worked at a Starbucks downtown and it was a fun job and that I should apply.
I did, got the job and drank my fill of chai. I just went to the source, work at a place that makes chai… then worked my way over every type of coffee drink they imagined, then started seeking out other coffee brands and types… and now, the other night I was thinking, man… I really want chai.
There is no real point to that story other than I used to really like chai. I am just awake early in the morning and don’t want to watch TV.
That is a line to mean… I think, you have to eventually pay what is due. It is from the old fairy tale The Pied Piper. I read an article in the Times Colonist the other day about why housing in Victoria is so expensive and if we don’t figure something out soon, Victoria will be a modern day Hamelin… a place where all the children go away… a metaphor for “young people,” because no one working people can’t afford $300,000 condos and $600,000 houses. I was going to say no one can afford $600,000 houses but that obviously isn’t true… the problem maybe is that way too many people can and they flock to our beautiful Island… wait a minute, I immigrated here too…. hmmm… OK, starting today, no new people!
Hamelin is a town in Germany and back in the medieval days, something happened to 130 children. What is any historians guess and there are a few theories. The Pied Piper being the fairy-tale version of something perhaps more sinister or benign.
In the fairy tale, Hamelin is over run with rats and hires a Pied (colourfully dressed) man with a magical pipe to play music and lead all the rats into the river to drown.
Huzzah, he does the job but when it comes time to pay up, the townsfolk renege on their deal and don’t pay. The Pied Piper vows vengeance and comes back to town using his magical flute to lure away all the children to either a cave or to be drown in the river. Hense, to “pay the piper.”
I don’t know if Hollywood has tapped Johnny Depp on the shoulder yet, but it is a movie that needs to be made. Some theories of what really happened are pretty spooky, like Hamelin was plagued by a serial pedophile. Or that the plague killed them off. Another theory is that “children” means young people…. who had to leave to find work and land else where. Whatever the reason, you could imagine some interesting scenarios to dream up. What happened to the children of Hamelin?
The phrase, beginning with the TC article, has been re-appearing in my world all over the place. I told it to Coral and she said, “I have never heard the phrase of paying the piper.”
I related the tale of Hamelin to her and since then, she has become aware of the phrase in books she’s reading, on TV, in music. SWA? spooky shit.
The editorial was getting on about how Victoria is so expensive and the reason or one of the reason is one of our own creation. Rules. We got’em in Victoria.
We have rules, very strict rules, on land use. It was decided that we don’t want to live in an endless expanse of suburbs. We don’t want high rises. We want farms and trees and watersheds and animals and green space. Fuck yes, I want all those things too.
But the piper is here… it creates a scarcity of land that drives up cost.
The government can’t write cheques to magically create affordable housing. Affordable housing in Victoria costs $900 a month (that is AFTER that government cheque to build it according to Monday Mag!).
If an employer needs you, then you’ll be paid enough to afford that, or you’ll get a room-mate or do as I do and work three jobs. Or we’ll plow over some forest and build a suburb. Or dig up some character homes and pile in a 17 story tower. Or you’ll move and Victoria will be a modern Hamelin.
That is harsh, but no one says that. They wax on about affordable housing. What the fuck is that? I’ll tell you, Saskatchewan.