Two Vancouver streets require considerable driving skill. They aren’t particularly perilous because of their vertical drop, or because they wind and twist through complicated slalom courses. Their hazard involves the high probability that a J-walker will be using the thoroughfare in the same time and space continuum as you. Hitting a J-walker can leave you with that depressing feeling and make you feel guilty for the rest of your life.

 Hastings Street between Clark Drive and Columbia in the Downtown East Side is the first spot. This street traverses the poorest Postal Code area in Canada. Heroin and crack cocaine represent  the flavour of the day and fuel the pedestrian population’s J-walking engines. J-walkers include prostitutes trying to hook rides in cars of would-be regulars, and men and women who recently shot up in dimly lit alleyways. In other words, you expect J-walkers here.

 West 4th Avenue between Macdonald and Burrard Streets in Kitsalano is the other area. It transects one of the more affluent areas of the city. You wouldn’t normally expect J-walkers in affluent areas. The affluent, who are normal and law-abiding citizens J-walk in huge parades across 4th Avenue. They do it singularly, in pairs, and octets. Some even teach their children to do it. Sometimes whole families start at one curb, loop around to the farthest lane of traffic, then return to the same curb.

 It’s not only the pedestrians. Kitsalano motorists learned a new trick. They learned to park in the middle of traffic. When they do this, they turn on their emergency flashers to absolve them of guilt.

 What causes this lemming-like behavior amongst Vancouver’s elite? Is it an aftereffect of their inborn urge to succeed in the world of business? Is it, like on Hastings Street, drug induced? If so, what gives them that suicidal buzz on?

 I believe it’s the coffee.

 This morning, while crossing the city to teach my 9:45 A.M. class at Renfrew Heights, I counted all the cappuccino and espresso bars on the nearly two-kilometer stretch between Macdonald and Burrard. I counted twelve of them, ranging from chain stores such as Starbucks to small independent shops such as Barristas. Each was open early, and already stocked with customers gazing out the windows with bloodshot eyes while slurping back  low fat lattes. I could almost hear their J-walking mainsprings being wound as I drove by.

 This was a very preliminary survey for a Saturday morning I know I missed some. I was too busy swerving to avoid hitting coffee customers as they hit the streets. I also dodged cavalcades of them climbing off the 4th Avenue bus and filing into the coffee dispensaries.

  I maintained a loving relationship with this hot brown liquid since my pre teenaged years. In those days, I drank instant coffee laced with two spoons of sugar and a healthy splash of canned milk. Since then, I dropped the condiments. Now I use a cone filter and bulk ground gourmet Columbian coffee.

 Two years ago, as a community school coordinator in a Downtown Eastside elementary school, I witnessed young people develop fully fledged coffee addictions. During parent night, a large coffee urn was placed near the front door. In theory, parents would grab a cup of java then meet the teacher.  In fact, the Grade 6 and 7 students got into it. Each guzzled several cups sweetened with cube sugar and creamed with canned milk. As the parents gathered at the front door, they witnessed their progeny aimlessly J-walking on Hastings Street.

 As a fitness instructor, I should rant about the dangers of coffee and warn everyone about its diuretic effects and tell you to drink water. Unfortunately I don’t have time. I just ran out of Columbian, and I have to run across the street to get another pound of the best.

  Mike Broderick is a BCRPA fitness instructor and an employment specialist at the Neil Squire Society where he finds jobs for the physically disabled. He is a fitness humourist for Alive Magazine and owns and operates The Spin Doctor Resume Service where he does resumes for anyone wishing to become upwardly mobile. He may be reached at or at 604-464-4195. He lives in Port Coquitlam BC about 29 kilobytes from Vancouver. He is already feeling negative effects of the Olympics.


6 Responses to “IT’S THE COFFEE”

  1. Says:

    There have been recent studies that suggest coffee, which has antioxidants, could possibly reduce the risk of cancer as well as diabetes. Maybe it does have some perks! (Although I would have to suggest upgrading to a burr grinder and going whole bean so its not the flavor that kills you 🙂

  2. Antione Pylvainen Says:

    Hello, I browsed your blog while searching google for coffeemakers. Your blog is really amazing and I loved the theme. Just thought would let you know that I have subscribed to your rss feed. Also on a couple of pages I also encountered a 404 error and after refreshing a couple of times was able to view the pages. Take Care

  3. Troy Sin Says:

    Hello. This is kind of an quirky enquiry , but have other visitors asked you how get the menu block to look like youve made it? I also have a blog and am really looking to alter around the theme, however am frightened to death to mess with it for fear of the search engines punishing me. I am very new to all of this so i am just not sure exactly how to try to do it all yet. Ill just keep working on it one day at a time. Thanks for any help you can provide here.

  4. mikebroderick Says:

    It wasn’t me . … It was all my host WordPress.

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