Category Archives: Bum Signs

Vagabond Signs: Destination Vancouver

Cost: $10
Location: #43 bus at 12th and John St.

Vancouver bum sign

On Friday, I hopped on my bus up the hill from downtown, and I knew right away that it was going to be an interesting ride. At first it was standing room only, and I stood near the front. In one of the bench seats behind the driver, there was an disheveled old man (let’s call him “Ed” since I don’t remember his actual name) hunched over a grande Starbucks cup and a doughnut with a single bite out of it. Every once in a long while, he’d take another nibble, or a sip of coffee. I noticed Ed was mumbling to himself and would occasionally speak loud enough for people to hear. After a couple little outbursts, I realized he was repeating phrases from other people’s conversations on the bus. A girl was on her cell phone a few rows back and said, “OK, I’ll meet you there around 7:30 or a quarter to 8.” Ed repeated, “7:30 or a quarter to 8.”

This continued up the hill, and by now a few people had gotten off the bus, so I was able to take a seat a few spots away from Ed. He would say “Hi” to people as they got on the bus, and “Goodbye” as they got off. One girl had a box in her arms as she left the bus and Ed asked, “What’s thaaat?” She replied, “It’s a food processor” and exited. At the same stop, two girls got on the bus carrying multiple ragged bags and backpacks, wearing some dirty, worn-down clothes. One girl started fumbling through some quarters in her hand to pay the fare, and said she only had $1. The bus driver said the fare was $1.50, but it was pay as your leave. The girls continued onto the bus, whispering about how they lucked out on the fare. Ed spoke up and said, “Hi, I’m Ed” and one of the girls smiled and replied, “Hi, I’m Emma.” They sat down in the seats across from me with all their bags, and a couple Vancouver-related hitch-hiking/bum signs. They looked very tired, but relieved to be on a bus across town to the University Distract.

Continue reading

Sign #1

Bum sign

Cost: $3
Location: Half-block off Broadway, on Mercer

$3 was my initial offer, expecting it to be the starting point for bargaining. Instead, I got a cheerful response of, “Sure, I can always make another!” I commented on the quality of the sign, because it isn’t your standard flimsy cardboard. Its a heavier, almost particle-board type material. The woman replied that this was “the good stuff” and it doesn’t blow over in the wind. I thanked her and as I was walking away she shouted, “Good luck!”