She looked at me as if I had just jumped out of a spaceship and planted the martian flag on McBride Avenue.
“You can’t be serious,” she said with that same incredulous and slightly offended look. “This is Prince Rupert.”
She sat down in the banquette across from me and proceeded to continue to help me sort through a grocery-sized-bag of coins in search of quarters.
Just before planting the flag and eliciting that look of disbelief touched with a tad of frustration, I had told her straight out.
“I haven’t done this for 20 years.”
She didn’t believe that either.
“What laundry?” she asked.
“No, not laundry… just laundry at a laundromat,” I replied.
A little more than a month ago, I returned to northwest B.C., leaving my little house on the prairie, which was complete with a top-of-the-line washer and dryer, behind.
The home I’m currently renting in Prince Rupert doesn’t boast the same amenities, so it was an early Saturday morning trip downtown to wash my mounting pile of dirty laundry at a laundromat.
A vain search for a facility with hot water led me to the laundromat on Second Avenue and to that coin-sorting banquette table… and her.
While we continued to sort through now-extinct pennies, useless nickels and frustrating dimes in search of the $3 worth of quarters needed to do a load, we continued our conversation.
“Yeah, I’m serious. Prince Rupert is fantastic. This place is gonna boom,” I repeated. “There are 500 towns and cities east of here that would switch places with Prince Rupert in a heartbeat.”
Again the look of disbelief.
“I dunno,” she said. “I’ve been looking for a job for a long time. I’ve been everywhere… I’ve volunteered, I’ve dropped off resumés all over the place… and look at me, I have a university education and I’m working in a laundromat.
“We’ve been hearing about all these things are going to happen for years. And it never comes. It’s always tomorrow.”
Since coming back to northwest B.C., I’ve seen that same look in the eyes of people in Prince Rupert and that same pessimism.
It’s a look and outlook I don’t understand.
There is no question that the past decade was hard on Rupertites… and all of northern B.C.
But that was the past.
All relative indicators point to a resurgence of major proportions for Prince Rupert. From housing prices to vacancy rates, unemployment figures to program announcements, the past is exactly that — the past.
Tomorrow is here.
There is not a damn thing people can do about the past except learn from it.
From this outsider’s point of view, the pessimism that reigns supreme for many in Prince Rupert is, again, to my mind unjustified.
In fact, I doubt there are many cities or towns — with the exception of booming Saskatchewan — with as bright of a future as Prince Rupert.
When it comes to looking at Prince Rupert’s future, maybe I am from Mars and Rupertites are from Venus.
Because I just don’t understand the pessimism.