On an incredibly rainy Vancouver day I finished duct-taping a taillight back onto the Pivot Mobile (I call it Handsome Bob) and drove it downtown and up a back alley. Part of my role this season was to keep our calendar depots around the city stocked and it was with this purpose in mind that I dragged out four boxes of forty Hope In Shadows calendars and lugged them around the corner to a storefront on Seymour Street. In the window was an empty tattoo chair that could have easily doubled as a prop in a grindhouse film if the right restraints were installed. To add to the S&M flavour of the place, adds for clubs featuring fetish nights adorned the window. Kansas, this is not, thought I. This was the Fall Tattooing and Artists Gallery.
Inside I was greeted by a young woman sporting more tattoos than I could count or decipher the meaning of. I put the boxes behind the desk, collected an envelope of cash, balanced the inventory, and readied myself for the slog back to the car. And then a Hope In Shadows vendor came in.
He was elderly, sporting a shock of silver hair, a beard and a jolly grin making him reminiscent of a Santa Clause post-marathon training. I thought if this place was a bit odd by my standards then he must be moments from shouting in Latin, forming his fingers into a make-shift cross and beating a hasty retreat. But he didn’t.
He knew the woman by name, and she responded with a smile and asked how his day was. She knew his name and his badge number without even looking. They talked about how sales were going, the difficulties of working outdoors in a Vancouver winter, and about the impact the added income had for him. There was an ease to it that made it clear how beneficial places like the Fall are as depot’s for vendors to buy calendars without having to make it back to the Downtown East Side to restock. It wasn’t just about the logistics. He genuinely liked coming in. The Fall moved more calendars than any other depot in the Lower Mainland. Over 1,900 calendars were picked up by vendors this season. They were part of a support network called depots, as we don’t have a word that sums up what they contributed to the vendors and the project itself:
A warm and dry place for a moments respite from the weather.
A smile and a friendly conversation.
A source of support.
From all of us at Hope in Shadows,