A man, a moving company, and "the Other Calgary."
Every Calgarian should ride the 23. The route runs between two LRT stations – Chinook in the south, Saddletowne in the northeast – and winds through East Calgary’s lower- and middle-income working-class neighbourhoods. Housing is affordable here due to the proximity to industrial areas, and new Canadians from the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Africa and elsewhere often settle in this part of town when they arrive.
Coming from Chinook, the passengers are overwhelmingly male manual labourers, clad in dirty work boots and Carhartt jackets and bright-orange safety vests. The small handful of women headed for office parks are dressed in business casual and are generally black, Asian or aboriginal. This scene is no less representative of the new Calgary than ultramodern skyscrapers or the Peace Bridge or cycle tracks, though it’s unlikely to be part of any promotional campaign.
At this early morning hour, no one speaks. There are no conversations between the broad-shouldered men jammed together in the seats. Some sleep. Many listen to earphones. It is late October and, like much of the year, Calgary is pitch dark at seven in the morning. We are tired and our muscles are stiff as the bus winds its way through Forest Lawn and Dover and Erin Woods into the Foothills industrial district where it slowly empties its human cargo. The women in dress pants exit near office parks and the men in work clothes shuffle toward industrial yards and warehouses and factories. My stop is midway down 76th Avenue, from where I walk south down sidewalkless 44th Street and run across Glenmore during a break in the freeway traffic. There, behind a two-storey office building, is the truck yard.
As I walk toward the warehouse I see the blue truck is already running.