Starbucks Explosion: and you shall know us by the trail of the dead

Starbucks Explosion, Broadway and Heather

Ten years ago I worked here and, strangely enough, was just talking about it yesterday, although when I worked there there were no assplody taco shops next door; it’s the beans, people. Beans are the devil’s work.

Witness Lesley Jackman said: “The flames were almost completely across the road. They were probably 15-feet high and all you could see was the fire.”

Two other witnesses told CBC News that immediately after the explosion, they saw a man dressed in dark clothing running from the area. It is not known whether the man was fleeing the explosion or was involved in the incident.

Starbucks Explosion, Broadway Avenue

I’m kind of bitter about this. When I worked at the Broadway and Heather Starbucks (and Stephen Hayes and I opened it) the most interesting thing that would happen is when the head cases from the hospital would come down and…be headcasey. One fellow shuffled down in his paper gown and paper slippers, toting his IV, because he just wanted a cigarette and a decent coffee, dammit. We called the hospital and said, “You’re missing a guy,” and they actually said, “How do you know he’s our guy?” I guess they just didn’t want him back.

Then there was Apparent Eating Disorder Woman, who ordered one of every pastry and one glass of orange juice and a big empty cup. She very slowly took the pastries apart, chewed them, savouring the flavour, and then spat the chewed bits into the cup. We didn’t see her do anything in particular with the orange juice, but when she left we saw that the cup with the food mash was very moist and quite orange.

David Duchovny, himbo extraordinaireThere was, though, the time I was working with Sam (we think it was short for Samantha, but she was sensitive about it so we never asked) and, it should be explained, Sam had the mother of all crushes on David Duchovny who, it must be admitted, is pretty sweet-looking, especially if you’ve got a weakness for doe-eyed, soft-spoken, sexy-professorlike brunets and we surely don’t know anyone like that around here, do we? And she was puttering away behind me, making a fresh batch of decaf or some such attention-occupying task, and a customer stepped up to the till and ordered, and I still remember it, “A tall Kenya, please,” which he pronounced correctly and everything. I rang it in and took his money and asked Sam to pour it for me, as she was right there, and I used her name and everything, and so she did. She poured it. And she turned around, said, “Here you go,” handed David Duchovny his Kenya, and then she looked up and smiled, and then she froze, and then, magnificently, her knees gave out and she sank sloooooowly to the floor, like some kind of mesmerizing reverse levitation. He watched her sink and when her head was even with the counter he smiled a slow, sexy smile, said, “Thank you, Sam,” and left.

Oh yeah, and the beggars who sat out in front of London Drugs paid some guy a “management fee” because he “owned the block.” Some of them were quite short in the wits department and we used to give the guy hell for renting out a public sidewalk and taking money from people, but you can’t argue with a born capitalist. He was greatly insulted at the suggestion he’d done anything wrong. “Don’t I make them feel a part of something bigger? Don’t I make them feel protected?” Yeah, maybe, but they, of course, were deluded to think so and when one of them got mugged and beaten we finally reported the whole deal to the cops. Apparently, it’s not illegal to rent a public sidewalk to a mentally handicapped dude? Or apparently those cops were particularly lazy.

The “sidewalk manager” controlled a lot of sidewalks around town outside prime spots like liquor stores and London Drugs, and he spent his days gambling. When he was finally put away for something, the beggars could not BELIEVE how much more money they suddenly had.

Oh yes, and there was the (literally) prize-winning story of the lumpenprole. I really don’t know what else to call her. She was there when I got back from my break: large and squashy and overflowing the chair, like soft serve ice cream poured out of a cement mixer and into an acrylic tracksuit. She was quite clearly drunk, which may be against the law but as long as you’re quiet who really cares, but at some point she reached into one pocket, pulled out the most noxious-smelling weed I’ve ever encountered and lit up; with her other hand, she reached into her bag and pulled out a bottle of, I believe, Captain Morgan rum. It took three increasingly firm “You can’t do that. You must put it away. We will call the police. Oh yes we WILL.” to get her to put the doobie out, which she did in her latte. We let her continue to drink it and indeed, she didn’t notice till she’d gotten to the bottom, whereupon she screeched complaints about someone putting a joint in her latte. “Look,” I said, “would we put it in your latte or would we keep it to ourselves? Hey? That stuff doesn’t grow on trees!” and she laughed heartily, passed out, and peed herself all over the floor.

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29 thoughts on “Starbucks Explosion: and you shall know us by the trail of the dead

  1. Honest to god, my favorite pub is having to move because they’ve just discovered they’re right on a fault line. And Kiefer Sutherland, patron saint of Canada, was just invited to fight an earthquake. I’m telling you, this kundalini thing scares me. I want mine to go back to sleep!

    There IS a bridge near here. Hmmmm…

  2. I thought of you when the CBC broke the news yesterday am. Figured you’d be on that like grafitti on a DTES alley wall.

    I figure poor old Taco Del Mar just got caught in the crossfire between rival Starbucks’. I mean, there’s one right across the street, and another just down the block.

    With the perceived economic downturn it was inevitable that they should turn on one another. This is just the opening salvo in a fued to make the Cola Wars seem like a minor squabble. It is indeed all about the beans. Where does coffee come from again?

    I think I’ve just found three more major reasons to stick to Timmy’s, thanks. For one thing, at least no Timmy’s has been known to explode–even the one in Kandahar is still standing.

    Also sorry to hear about the break-in. Maybe the Vancouver PD needs to modify their standard procedure: Instead of dumping these guys at the Skytrain with orders to disappear, drop them off in Kitsilano or West Van. I bet the provincial government would start funding mental health care and addiction treatment shortly thereafter. And besides, from the point of view of the individual hype involved, the pickings are far better out there.

  3. Very good stories. There’s nothing like urban employment! That’s a fine pic of Mr. Duchovny you have there, but I do have a couple of questions. Why is he sporting a bar code? And why is it positioned “just so”?

  4. You probably know this already, but your post is now showing up in CBC’s list of bloggers writing about the article.

    Thanks for linking to us!

    Lisa @ CBC

  5. Metro, I am in awe of your powers. How did you spot that Starbucks across the street from the Broadway and Heather store, all the way from the High Desert? As far as I can see, it’s still completely invisible, thanks to the Romulan device.
    You can also, apparently, change history.
    Here is your video of the Tim Hortons explosion.

    moonbeam, ian, muse, Philipa, thanks. Lisa, I saw that; I guess Technorati is just really slow. Thanks for the update!

    Did anyone else notice that the bar code is wider than it is long? No reason I mention it…

    FFE, I have promised Judy a picture of me wearing the t-shirt she sent, so at some point there will be actual photographic evidence of the boobage on the blog. I have to lose the love handles first, though. Or just get better at Photoshop.

  6. Hey, it was a guess. And it sure as hell wouldn’t be the first time Starbucks opened across from themselves.

    Maybe one of these handy locations can take up the slack?

    As to the Timmy’s video–my dad and I used to get doughnuts there, although more often at the second location. I still recall seeing the one they opened in Ohio about 1998. I actually turned my rig around and went back for a cup, just to be sure it was really there.

  7. I once heard someone say that “When your breakfast drink comes with three flavours, whipped cream and sprinkles, it’s not a £µ©λing coffee, it’s a milkshake.”

  8. The more I look at the photo of David D., the more I think I’d like to run his barcode over my scanner.

    I’m American, but I never order sugar or whipped cream in my half-caff Mocha Frappe Lattechino. Or whatever it’s called.

  9. Pingback: Oh My God, We’re All Going to Die « Moonbeam McQueen

  10. As much as I enjoy a tall espresso frappuccino, I believe (and thousands with me) that the scant nobility of the profession of barista fled before the sounds of the blenders.

  11. Hysterical Raincoaster, wish I’d mosied over here earlier, always enjoy a great story (its the Irish in me) and a good laugh (that’s the Irish in me too!) – wot great craigh! Keep up the fantabulous writing….

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