We're having one of those rare nice spells of winter weather here in Vancouver when the Pineapple Express gets pushed up into the Gulf of Alaska leaving things a little frosty at night with bright-light, sun-spackled 10°C (50°F) afternoons.
And yesterday afternoon I was sitting on the bus, one of those hopped-up Express jobs, the #44 B-Line, whose run begins at the very fine still-sorta public institution I work at on the far western edge of town. There will be no link for those real estate moguls; I don't want them putting their stinkin' sniffers on me, because the PR people, who have a direct pipeline to the President's office, are obsessed with monitoring all manner of media coverage - including even F-Trooplist blogs like this one (I know this for a fact because I've had Emails from them in the past when I've written anything even remotely critical of their ongoing efforts to sell off all of the Endowment Lands to developers - but I digress, as usual).
Anyway, the 44-B hightails it from the Point Grey campus all the way into the downtown core, about 12 km in all, in something like six stops. The machine itself is one of those articulated behemoths with a round dish floorplate in the middle between two hunks of busbody that is straddled by a couple of bench seats that was filled to bursting with a bunch of school kids out on a field trip.
As soon as we hit the road the kids were up and surfing the dish. The only other place I've seen this kind of thing is on the Metro in Montreal, and it's fantastic to watch because some of these kids are really good at rolling with each and every exaggerated twist, turn and jump that, taken together, are hugely amplified whipsaw replicas of even tiny movements of the driver's hands on the steering wheel sixty feet in front of them.
But there was more than just that going on with these kids, because they were clearly from two different classes from two very different schools. One class was the host group, all hip and city and urban and cool. The other class was visiting from way out of town in the sticks, maybe Prince George or something. And they were all babbling back and forth to beat the band while they joked around and took turns up on the dish playing it kind of like they were riding bulls at the rodeo.
And one class was teaching the other class how to count in a language they had never heard before. It was mandarin. And the kids doing the teaching were the hosts. The kids from Prince George were all white, and they were lapping up the "eee!..... arrre!!....san!!!.....soooo!!!!" counts and turning them into whooping cheers like they were 'Team Tolerance' at the Calgary Stampede.
Then, suddenly, thirty-two minutes after we got on the bus we were all thrown out onto the shimmering street in front of Waterfront Station. The kids filed off and wandered toward the Five Sails at Canada Place. Me, I slipped my laptop into my pack, strapped it on my back, grabbed my bike from the rack at the front of the 44-B, and headed for the seabus and the ride across the harbour trailing this view.
And all the while I said to myself.....
.......What a Wonderful World.......