Yesterday in Montreal the sun was out, the wind was down, and it was that day. Every year there is one day, usually a Friday it seems when the first vestiges of spring are fully evident. People flood into the streets of the downtown core on the lunch breaks. Bar and restaurant terraces are packed as Montrealers attempt to throw off the accumulated winter blahs with a good shot of vitamin D.
Of course this year, in so many ways, is different. Mother Nature did her part, the weather was ideal for terrace-sitting, or strolling along Ste. Catherine Street, or spending time in a park. Unfortunately, the effects of COVID-19 isolation and social-distancing kept most people away from downtown.
My wife and I went for our daily airing. Usually, we stick to our neighbourhood as requested by health officials. But yesterday we were on a mission. We set off to the SAQ (liquor store) in search of a particular wine. I’m not a wine guy really, give me a cold beer and I’m happy, but my wife enjoys the odd glass of crisp cool white.
The wine we sought was available at two SAQ outlets downtown, so off we went. It was a pleasant trek on the almost deserted main street. What pedestrians there were seemed serious about employing social-distancing and it was possible to enjoy the day. Those who drove had their pick of parking spots, something unheard of on a Saturday afternoon in Montreal.
Also, there was no line to get into the SAQ (we had passed two outlets that according to their website did not have the wine we were in search of and both had significant line-ups). In we popped and, with a little help from the friendly staff, found the product, paid and were out in under three minutes.
As we ambled home with our vino it seemed for a moment that we were no longer in Montreal, but had somehow magically been transported to Monaco. There was a roar of engines followed by the appearance of two Ferraris, a Lamborghini, and several other high-end sports cars. The near-vacant streets afforded these drivers the opportunity to air-out their vehicles. As we walked along Ste. Catherine, we encountered the cars several times as they wove their way around city blocks.
These drivers usually bring out their cars for the annual Formula 1 weekend, but, alas, that like so many things has fallen victim to COVID-19 and has been postponed. Mind you, during that weekend, traffic is so dense that the chance to zip around downtown streets does not exist.
Interestingly this phenomenon is not limited to Montreal. I read an article today about similar cars being driven at high speed (I must admit the Montreal drivers were not going all that fast but did make a lot of noise), sometimes with tragic results, through several cities.
I know we are all frustrated with self-isolation, but wrapping a very expensive car around a lamppost seems a bit extreme to me.