I always compare walking down Sainte-Catherine’s to being a fish in a reef - you’re surrounded by all kinds of colours and textures, and you’re just trying really hard to not crash into anything or get swallowed by a bigger fish. (Good luck trying to figure out that metaphor.)
The next time you’re weaving your way along the sidewalk, expect to see many if not all of these people:
1.The Chatty Cathy
This person is not just talking on her cell phone while trying to navigate a city street. We all do that sometimes. It’s 2015. No, the Chatty Cathy is neck-deep in her conversation, usually about her aunt’s ingrown mole or the stupid thing her lover did last night, and has completely forgotten that she’s in a public place. Just try not to get irked when she bumps into you screaming, “I know! She should have used the hemorroid cream!” and then glares at you like you’re the weird one.
2. The Snail
This person is the worst, and he can be found in any place where people are walking - school hallways, streets, you name it. He finds himself in a crowded area and then he… slows… down. And for seemingly no good reason. He isn’t on the phone. He doesn’t have an unruly child or an awkward bundle to carry. He just slows… down… and you’re left inching along behind him, aware of everyone behind you, silently praying to Zeus to strike him down where he stands. (Not to be confused with elderly people who just can’t walk any faster. If you get annoyed at them, you’re a bad person.)
3. The Peacock
Montreal is a stylish place, and this guy knows it. He’s completely decked out in goth gear, black lipstick and all, or is so dapper he has a walking stick, or is such a hipster that he has a walking stick. Whatever he’s wearing, it’s wildly inappropriate for the occasion but it’s awesome, and he’s awesome, and passing him in the street is just a nice Montreal moment.
4. The Sidewalk Cycler
Our city’s long tradition of cyclers is wonderful, and really impressive, given our weather. I see those guys whizzing through traffic and think they look like Spandex-clad gladiators. But this cyclist is not a gladiator. She has not made the commitment you must make when you take a bike onto Sainte-Catherine’s - to stay on the road, no matter how crazy traffic gets. Instead she’s opted out and is walking her bike along beside her - or worse, is trying to keep riding it through foot traffic. It’s disruptive, at times dangerous, and just not a good look.
5. The Businessman
He’s in a suit. He has a briefcase. He’s probably on his cell. If he looks at you, it’s to scowl in a way that tells you that he thinks you’re a punk. And in that moment, you forget that you’re a 20-something with your life halfway together and you feel like a lost 16-year-old again. Whatever you do, do not get lost in this feeling. Just back away slowly and hope you don’t ever turn out like him.
6. The Busker
This guy is just the best. Point finale. He’s found a non-obstructive place to set up, and he’s playing the spoons on his knee or break-dancing or fiddling along to some folksy CD. He might be good at what he’s doing, but just as likely he totally sucks. Either way his energy and utter shamelessness is refreshing, and like The Peacock, he adds a really nice layer to the culture of the street.
7. The Smoker
Always in a doorway, usually loud, and never alone. Need I say more?
8. The Preteen Clique
This is the group of (usually) girls who are just old enough to go shopping together without a chaperone. They travel in chirping clumps along the street and they’re so damn happy that it’s hard not to find them endearing. The only trouble is that they’re usually slow, and unless you’re petite or looking down you might not see them right away. Just don’t bump into them. They hate that.
9. The Mom
She’s got a stroller. Or a crying toddler. Or both. She’s dishevelled and surrounded by a haze of chaos, except her eyes, which are full of the kind of determination you wouldn’t expect to see off of a battlefield. Her day has been harder than yours, so just get out of her way. And open that door for her while you’re at it.
10. The Tourist
He can be identified by his tell-tale swivelhead as he tries to take everything in. He makes you feel proud to be a Montrealer, and strangely attractive if he takes a photo of you “to get a shot of the locals.” He’s yet another reminder that Montreal is a beautiful place and that you live in one of the coolest cities in the world.