Sunday, July 10, 2011

Post-Riot: Sharing @ The Bay

The Hudson's Bay Company, West Georgia and Granville Street

    Today afternoon, I ventured out to downtown Vancouver after church, wanting to visit the stores that had been broken into during the riot following the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs last month. I had been planning to do this for some time, but had other commitments to attend to until today. It was also my first solo foray into street evangelism, and will hopefully not be the last.

    The riot occurred on the same day that I had attended my friend Angie's afternoon graduation ceremony at SFU. Although I had very much wanted to join her and her family for dinner, I eventually decided to go home because I was quite tired. It was from there that I watched the riots on TV several hours later. I had much ocassion to think in the days and weeks following it, particularly while reading the daily news articles, editorials and comments of various people's opinions of the events of that night. As I read their various comments and stories in the papers, I came to realize just how often we take retailers for granted. In our mad rush to acquire, cross the next item off the shopping list and worldview of "everlasting shopping", we often forget that there are ordinary people behind the stores, trying to make their living. I began to think about the stores and businesses that had their property vandalised, and wanted to do something to encourage them.

    In the process, it occurred to me just how deep the notion of trust between shopkeeper and shopper actually runs. In our culture that often resorts to avenues of escape from expectations, I think we forget that in the relationship of buyer and seller, each places serious and significant expectations on the other. As shoppers, we expect that the stores we buy from will provide reliable, timely and friendly service. We expect that they will charge us reasonable prices for their services and wares, without an attempt to extricate exorbitant profit. We expect that they will do so with an attempt towards quality, and that the goods we acquire will actually function as they are supposed to.

    But as much as this is true, the burden of trust also operates in the opposite direction. The staff of the store place expectations on the shoppers that visit them. They trust that they will respect both their people and property, for it is the means to their livelihood, their bread and butter. They trust that shoppers will not attempt to cheat them in their transactions. They trust that as they lock up their places of businesses each night, that they will be able to sleep with peace of mind, with the assurance that they will be able to return to work there the next morning. I was reminded of the Proverb that says:

    "Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you." (Proverbs 3:29)

    And so it happened that I decided to write a card for the management and staff of the major stores that I could remember being affected, expressing my sympathy for the violation of their trust and property. And I decided to start with The Bay on Granville Street. Looking around at broken display cabinets in the watch section on the ground floor, I met a salesperson and explained why I had come. I asked if there was a store manager or supervisor I could personally deliver the card to. He looked stunned at first, and then broke into a happy smile. While we waited for one of the managers on duty to arrive, I was able to explain my reasons for doing this, and share my faith with him. I hope to be able to see him again next week! The store manager was quite happy to take my card, after a brief introduction. Although he wasn't able to have much of a conversation about his perspectives on the incident due to PR restrictions, he was most kind and profuse in expressing his thanks.

    While on my way out, I took some photos of the boards that covered windows outside The Bay, on which people had written their various expressions of sympathy, sorrow and regret. I found them interesting reading.

Apology Board outside The Bay's main entrance

Apology Board on the way to Granville Skytrain station
     I was really happy that I was able to do this today and hope to engage people in conversation about them when I go downtown again next week! Thank You, Jesus, for a blessed day as I put my faith in You to help me share your love!

- The Wisdom Seeker