I have not been in downtown Vancouver since probably the beginning of March or possibly the end of February. Once the pandemic took hold in North America, many people stopped going into the downtown area because we all needed to stay home. Some people started working from home and others, less fortunately, lost their jobs, so they also had no reason to go downtown. Since nothing was open in terms of stores, businesses, and restaurants, that led to more people not needing to go downtown.
In the absence of all those people and activities, the marginalized and the homeless in the downtown region appear to have expanded their reach into other areas of the downtown core. I have a few friends who live downtown and they say the area has become dirtier, the homeless have become more bolder, and it just feels a bit less safe than before. Without seeing it myself, I can’t make a comment about that, I’m just reporting what they have said to me.
Now that some shops have started to open, along with restaurants, in the downtown area, some people have returned to their regular activities, in this “new” normal. I wasn’t planning on returning immediately do buy things or eat out but I may now be compelled to go downtown for a different reason.
As I mentioned in my last post, I had a trip booked to LA for this week. The pandemic cancelled that trip but I had already paid for the hotel. The hotel refunded my money but since I paid for it with a Mastercard, the refunded money went back into the credit card account as a credit. For many reasons, as you might imagine, I am not going back to the United States most likely for quite some time. So a significant amount of money will just sit in that account as a credit. Well, I called my credit card company and asked if they could transfer that money back to me, to say, a a bank account. I was told an electronic transfer would not be possible but they could send me a cheque. I decided to go that route.
The cheque arrived yesterday and the funds are in US dollars as the credit card is in US dollars as well. I have a Tangerine US dollar savings account but since Tangerine is kinda no-frills, the only way I can deposit this cheque into that account is to physically go to one of their “cafes” and drop the cheque off into a box. The Vancouver Tangerine cafe is located downtown.
If I do go deposit this cheque, I’m not sure how to go get downtown. I guess I could take transit as that would be the fastest and cheapest way. It’s really hard to social distance on the train though. More and more people are heading back to work and taking the train. Is this a risk? On the other hand, there were only four test positive cases announced yesterday in the last 24 hours for the entire province. Are we in a good spot now? Maybe I should just drive downtown. That would be safer, even if my car is super old now and might breakdown at any time. Perhaps I could take an Uber. Before all of this happened, I was so excited to take my first Uber trip in Vancouver.
Another option is to not deposit this into my US dollar account. I could take the cheque and convert it back into Canadian dollars. There are currency exchanges nearby that give better rates than banks and I could capitalize on the relatively low dollar and make a buck or two. Then armed with Canadian cash, I could deposit it much easier in my other accounts.
Not sure what to do at this point, but I am curious to see what downtown looks like with my own eyes.