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I must warn you that I’m meaner than a junkyard dog today – and on two unrelated matters that somehow focused my attention on one big issue.

It started when I went into the Hudson’s Bay in Park Royal North to buy some underwear and could find no one to direct me. I had to ask a very busy cashier.

I went to the right place – finally – and there wasn’t a clerk to ask about prices etc. So, I bought some which turned out to be much too expensive when Wendy looked at what I had done.

Now to pay for them, but where? There was no sign and nothing at the pay stations to signal their presence to customers.

I thought to myself that this wasn’t like the “Bay” when I was a boy.

I actually grew up on a David Spencer family. Spencer’s was our own BC store and when they were bought out by Eaton’s my intrepid Gram – who came from Cape Breton Island and detested Toronto as much as any native British Columbian did – and she forbade any member of the family to darken Eaton’s door. When I got older and Gram was gone I would occasionally go into Eaton’s and every time I had bad service and I would walk out, look to the skies, and say “Gram, you were right”. (Remind me to tell you some time of the time I tried to buy a jockstrap.)

In any event I left and walked over to Park Royal South to the cobbler’s to get some shoe work done. Now there was service! And with a big smile! And some joshing back and forth. The Hudson’s Bay people would do well to get their shoes fixed, go to Moneyworth Cobblers, and see how real marketing is done!

As I waited for the light at Taylor Way and Marine a Police car, in a lineup trying to cross Marine suddenly flashed his lights, went around the line-up and through the light, then turned his lights off and proceeded as normal.

What the hell is wrong with this picture?

I’ll tell you – in a word, arrogance. It’s like the joke about “why do dogs lick their balls?”

“Because they can.”

It’s the arrogance of power.

Then it occurred to me – this arrogance is bred out of our indifference. It’s like “living with the bomb” – forget about it and go on about your business.

What this has sponsored with scarcely a whimper is a police force that can stop your car, investigate you, charge you, find you guilty and administer the punishment all on the spot. No tiresome trial, no whimpering about the “presumption of innocence” or dangerous concepts like that. All done within 10 minutes.

And what do our media say?

It’s great – it frees up all those courtrooms! (If that’s a societal advantage, why not close them entirely and let the police loose to “do their job”.

It never seems to occur to people that this moody, undisciplined bunch of taser users, dope peddling, assaulters of suspects are the very people who hand out drumhead justice on the roads of the province.

Am I soft on drinking drivers?

If you have to ask that question, you haven’t been paying attention!

What I’m against is eliminating the most basic protection a citizen has against tyranny – the presumption of innocence.

The state could make it illegal to drink and drive as has been done in Sweden. It can increase the consequences. But it cannot take away your right to a fair trial with the onus of proof resting on the state – at least it can’t if it wishes to be a democracy.

So there we are – you used to be able to find and pay for your underwear with help from the store and you used to have freedom from police bullying (with encouragement from the state it should be noted.)

We are losers as consumers and as citizens because we’ve lost the will to fight back.

We are, in short, getting exactly what we deserve.

7 Responses to “From Rafe’s desk: A visit to Park Royal North”

  1. Jeff Taylor says:

    Right on & well said as usual Rafe. I was just thinking to myself today as I was working, how much Vancouver’s airwaves need your voice (and reason) more these days than ever. The media in Vancouver (and indeed right through-out Canada) has become just as shallow & self serving as the commercials that play before and after the commentary. Whenever I tune in, I more often than not catch myself shaking my head and turning the channel (to the sports stations it seems). As for the police abusing their power(s) when we see them flashing their lights and making u-turns to avoid waiting in a line of cars; you wouldn’t dare call them on their action as you’d more than likely find yourself crippled by pain, on the ground, being told you’re under arrest. Can you imagine the mess our society will be in in another 10 or 20 years if all this madness isn’t addressed ? As I head into my 50’s, I often count my blessings that my days are numbered and I won’t be around when the you know what really hits the fan !

  2. Donald R says:

    Rafe: I see the police car issue happening all the time. As a part time school bus driver, going over the same route day after day, one gets to know the ebb and flow of traffic, and of course, the route and habits of the local police. Suffice it to say that the “problem” is not limited to North Vancouver.

    I stopped shopping at the Bay years ago. My dad was a faithful Bay employee for 35 years, and into his retirement, he used to say he was ashamed of the direction the Bay had gone in customer service, or lack thereof. He stopped shopping there, even though his staff discount applied even into retirement. No service = no sale.

    We can all point to retailers or customer service specialists in our community who really know how to attract and maintain their customer base. Once I make a purchasing decision in any given store, an astute clerk knows that the sale is all but complete and that he or she is now actually making the next sale! It is what happens between the decision to buy and the closure of the sale that has a major impact on future sales. Many, many retailers just do not get this!

    The Bay downtown used to! Woodwards in New Westminster was great for personalized service, especially in men’s wear.

    And yes, your voice on the air is missed. The pablum dished out these days in the guise of investigative journalism pales in comparison to that of but a few years ago.

    I too find myself gravitating towards the all sports talk station. I cannot stand traffic on the 4’s and an hour chock full of commercials and news breaks. There seems precious little time actually left in an hour to adequately dissect any issue. How many times do we hear a comment about running up the back of the clock and “we’ll have to leave it there” just when a subject was getting interesting.

    I hate what talk radio has become.

    So, I read!

    Carry on Rafe – and thanks.

    Donald R.

  3. AHHA says:

    A certain scandal involving a railway has showed me the true extent of the corruption. It seems to be the boiler plate template for how they do it…

    They are most devious and cunning, with tentacles in every organisation, and sycophants at the ready to do their bidding in all quarters. It must go to the highest levels of service and be worldwide now. The mounting evidence slips through the cracks regularly. Only to be discounted by the purveyors of lies and malfeasant manufacturers of public opinion and reasoning.

    Worldwide we see citizens taking to the streets to say stop this madness, stop this tyranny and in response are beaten down, jailed without charge, searched, violated, and branded. With their balls being cut off they are rendered impotent.

    Our system of governance must change the political parties and corporatists have had several centuries to devise ways to undermine governance, the intent and form of rule of law, and public interest.

    That is the only rationale solution that makes sense to me, change the way we are governed. It may not be perfect but we can certainly close some of the loopholes, and maybe save our collective human dignity and our planet for a while longer.

  4. AShepherd says:

    I think you are spot on with your observations, but do not entirely agree with you on the will to fight back. As someone from the X-Generation I do not and have not relied on sales staff for help in years. Instead, I research online and buy from the US regularly. If I do buy in Canada, I’ve already made up my mind on the product and know which store has it and for how much. My family makes trips to Portland and Seattle where we pay a fraction of the Canadian price (taxes and duty included) for an order of magnitude more selection. Our last visit seen us part with ~$2500 USD. Unfortunately, more people have caught on and the border wait times are increasing. The consumer may appear to lose in the short term as you point out, but in the long run our retailers will suffer as we acquire a taste for better selection and pricing.

    As for the police using their powers to the point of abuse, I believe that situation will not go on for long. Resistance will grow as more people experience drive-by trials. Already the RCMP has suffered a loss of confidence with the likes of the Taser incident. And who really believes airport security is there for your protection? Both become just another thing with a pointy stick to be avoided… at a time when we are encouraged to “report any suspicious activities” to the authorities. The government, with the likes of the HST sneak attack, and various lame duck parties are also revealing themselves unworthy. The media is for suckers and “last to knows” with people learning to read between the lines like they did in former Communist countries.

    The question I’d like to ask; is this a deliberate attempt to sour the milk and if so, to what end?

  5. OPS5255 says:

    Too long since I read you Rafe, and far far too long since I heard you on radio. Good points, (and comments, readers). Having worked in government nearly all my life, I’ve learned to zip my lip most of the time, sadly.

  6. gord smith says:

    Now lets see if I’ve got this straight. First off you needed help to find the underwear section then when you got there, you needed a clerk help you read the price of a 3pack? Did you forget your glasses? Then after finding a cashier you managed to finally jockey your purchase home. Now your wife gets a load of them and informs you that you just got screwed! I hope you didn’t end up the butt of too many jokes around home. Also, best be careful what you admit to cause next time your wife might not let you go shopping by yourself at all, The Bay or otherwise. Listen I’m just trying help. We’re all gettin’ old together.

  7. guy La Flam says:

    Yes yes, we are all getting older, and we should be getting smarter. Some of us can even remember when democracy was tangible. The trouble is not with us disgrunteled citizens, we did not break the social contract, we still pay taxes. The government of Canada/British Columbia has reneged on the social contract. Governments acting against the will of the majority,as shown by polls (because we have no recourse to referenda) have lost legitimate status. Can we refuse to pay taxes? No, because those with a monopoly on coercion, use it. But a class action law suit for extortion may go over their heads.

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