A couple of nights ago my sweetie and I met a Large Format Film photo buddy for a warm beverage. The area of town we were in is generally referred to as Connaught. Most people know it as the street the Galaxie Diner is on. The Galaxie has been a city landmark for over a decade. I have spent a lot of time photographing the Galaxie and its employees over the years. Some day these images might even be worth something.
As evening turned into night the street came alive with bright lights and reflections. The passing automobiles with their H.I.D. headlights create retinal searing lightning-like flashes intensified by the puddles left behind by a recent storm. The dancing shapes cast upon the walls and glass windows of darkened stores are meant for a Stephen King novel. At the end of a generally dark street is the Kalamata Grocery. A true traditional Greek supermarket. How traditional you ask? Well all the gentlemen working inside are called George. Yes that traditional.
Our photo buddy had told us that the Kalamata Grocery had the best olives in town. Having developed quite an appreciation for good, fresh olives while traveling in Turkey we just had to check this out. Once inside the store we were instantly transported thousands of miles to some small town grocery in Greece. The noise level was higher than normal for we staid conservative Canadians. Shopping for us is a very serious endeavor indeed. Any spontaneous outbursts of enthusiasm is generally met with disapproving stares and whispered insults shared with a fellow shopper. The joyful mood in the Kalamata Grocery was very welcome.
The owners were negotiating a transaction with a middle eastern lady who wanted to sell them some sort of non-tobacco tobacco. This is the same lady who found it almost impossible to park her over sized Range Rover in a spot 1.5 times bigger than she needed. Maybe she came from a country that doesn’t allow women to drive. The photo above shows her fifth try at getting into her spot. Cheap entertainment for me at least. In all fairness she was a very nice lady.
My sweetie was on the hunt for the perfect olive with one of the resident George’s. His animated descriptions of how great their olives are would make a Mexican beach walker selling Elvis felt paintings proud. I went in the opposite direction looking for interesting compositions. What did I find but yet another George. This time a customer. He was more than willing for me to take his photograph. In fact he struck a pose for me. This George told me he is the King of Calgary, but has to work as an underpaid and barely appreciated lawyer to pay the bills. Calgary could do much worse when looking for an ambassador. George was a gas and I greatly enjoyed our five minutes or so of conversation.
Yes I do love this stupid town. Calgary is such a schizophrenic place. For the most part it is inhabited by super over achievers who have to park a BMW SUV in the driveway to make sure everyone knows they are making the big bucks. Type A doesn’t even come close to describing the typical oil patch worker in Calgary. Eighty hour weeks are the norm. Many just don’t care about our city because they are only here to make loads of money and then go back to wherever they came from. The sooner the better is their attitude.
On the other hand you find pockets of humanity like the Kalamata Grocery all over the city, whether they are in older neighbourhoods or carved out of the new coffins of concrete we call malls. I am currently writing this blog in one such oasis, The Good Earth Cafe – Creekside. Even though it is located smack dab in the middle of a new area the “real” people have slowly found it. During the day when I come here to work on my website development business I meet other “geeks” and we have fun sharing war stories. New moms come in with their burping and pooping bundles of joy. Just now a large and very noisy group of new Canadians finished up a weekly get together. Even in the city hated by most of Canada (yes even more than Toronto!) we “Blue Eyed Arabs” as we have been branded by the east are real people just having fun. Well at least the ones that come here and make it their “home”.