Fear and Loathing at Canada Place

I was walking around Canada Place the other night; it’s finally getting warm enough to be be pretty comfortable in the evenings. I got into a conversation with an unemployed fellow who was riding his bike around the area looking for money and odd jobs. He told me he worked in the trades and things were pretty slow; he was from back east and renting a place out in Burnaby. His landlord had given him a break on his rent.

He seemed like a pretty normal, decent guy. I didn’t have any money with me, but we talked a bit about the cost of living in Vancouver, among other things.

A security guard approached: not a so-called “Downtown Ambassador,” but someone without a uniform, as I recall; I assume he was employed by Canada Place. He started giving the fellow a hard time about panhandling. I don’t know whether Canada Place is considered a public space; it seems wide open to the public, and I assume that people are allowed to talk to one another in such places, but I am not familiar with the legal fine points.

What struck me was that the security guard, or whoever he was, seemed genuinely stressed by the situation, his adrenaline obviously racing. I don’t think he could have been talking to two less threatening people. I told him that there was no problem, that I was just chatting to the fellow. Mr. Security then said something like, “He is always friendly with people. And then…”

He broke off and left us—stormed off, actually. But I wondered: and then what? He stabs you? Or—gasp—he asks you for money? Are people in need not supposed to be friendly before requesting help? Perhaps they should be obnoxious. Do we live in such a polite society that we feel uncomfortable saying “no” (as I did) if someone asks you nicely? Is the implication that friendliness in this situation is somehow dishonest?

Kalala 2008 Pinot Gris

Kalala produced one of my favourite BC Rieslings in 2008 (I wrote about it on my old blog; will taste it again soon and report back here).

This is a pale-to-medium straw colour with a very light fruity nose. Dry light-to-medium bodied wine with green apple and grapefruit notes; the apple dominates with a bit of a dull quality but the acidity kicks in to rescue the overall impression with a good length but a lingering leather-ish quality. Enjoyable, but overall not up to the quality I recall from their Riesling. Perhaps it’s partly that I don’t drink much of this varietal. 13.3% alcohol. $20.45 at Crosstown.

Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc 2008

A few people have raved to me about this vineyard.

This Pinot Blanc is a medium gold-green. Pineapple-citrus nose with a hint of sage (as in interior sage brush). Medium body and dry with apple and lemon dominating; nicely balanced flavours—I think I detect a hint of oak—and acidity with a good long finish. 13% alcohol. Recommended. $21.60 at Crosstown. See Blue Mountain Winery.

Delta Sunshine Taxi Vancouver

Update, April 26 2010: I complained to Parking & Ground Transportation at the Vancouver Airport Authority and that seemed to get Delta Sunshine’s attention. The company has apologized and refunded my money.

I want to warn people to be very wary of using the cab company Delta Sunshine Taxi.

On February 28 of this year, I hired a Delta Sunshine cab; the fare was about $20. When I received my credit card bill a month or so later, there was also a charge from the company for $50.70, with a transaction date of March 11. I don’t take many taxi trips, and certainly not of the length that would result in such a charge; and I didn’t take a cab that night. So I called the company and talked to their accounting department. I was to be called back, but wasn’t.

I called back and this pattern repeated for a few weeks, until today I decided to be more persistent. The person seemed reluctant to look up the transaction. She assured me that the card had been swiped. I asked for details of the trip; it was from YVR (the Vancouver airport) to North Vancouver—neither of which I was anywhere near in March. So, as I was certain the trip was not mine, I decided to call my credit card company to challenge the charge.

Vancity told me that to identify the transaction as fraudulent I’d have to cancel my card and get a new one. They also told me that my card number was manually entered, not swiped. Getting a new card is always a massive inconvenience, so I decided to call Delta Sunshine back and try to get a refund.

I challenged the person at the cab company with the fact that she’d told me the card had been swiped. She tried to brush this off, then told me the slip was signed—but how did she know it was my signature? Easily faked. She refused to consider reversing the charge. I asked to talk to a superior; there was apparently no such person. I asked if the driver who charged my card fraudulently was still with the company; he or she was. I asked if there would be an investigation. Nope.

This was all seeming increasingly suspicious to me. I tried to insist on a refund, pointing out what an inconvenience cancelling my card would be, and that they’d be out the fifty bucks either way, but she would have none of it. She hung up on me when I said I’d make sure to pass the word around to beware of Delta Sunshine Taxi.

So I’m following through. I’d recommend avoiding them at all costs; you may be risking your credit card security by using this taxi company.

I will also go ahead and put in a fraud report on my credit card. It seems that the Better Business Bureau does not handle cases in which illegal activity is involved. Any other ideas would be appreciated.

Kettle Valley 2008 Riesling

Pale-medium gold. Very nice nose with floral, citrus, earth and honey notes. Off-dry medium body with honey and apricot qualities; slightly low but nicely balanced acidity. Definitely one of the better BC Rieslings I’ve tried in the last couple of years. 9.8% alcohol. Unusually comes in a short rather than long-neck bottle. $28.90 at Crosstown. See Kettle Valley Winery.

8th Generation Riesling Classic 2008

The Tangled Vines was basically undrinkable (see my previous post), so I ran out to Crosstown and bought this, which I recall enjoying last year (though I won’t read my notes for now). Pale-ish silver-lemon appearance; quite unusual (for a Riesling) muted grapefruit nose. Dry, low-medium acidity, hint of stone fruit and well-balanced green fruit, lemon, and mineral qualities. Subtle and enjoyable. $24. See 8th Generation Vineyard.

Tangled Vines Riesling 2005

Deep lemon-gold with an earthy, citrus nose; strong alcohol scent, seeming almost fortified. A harsh palate, again with alcohol dominating (though it’s 13.9%); acidity is there but is overpowered by a largely unpleasant flavour. I can’t recommend this one. Perhaps you get what you pay for: $16.20 (relatively inexpensive by B.C. standards, believe it or not) at Crosstown. See Tangled Vines Winery.