My Week 30 – Obnoxious Chairs, Bathroom Shenanigans, and Vitamin Water

Tuesday: I give my chair a stern talking-to

Last week, I got a notice that there would be a company coming around to service the coil fan units in my building (for some bizarre reason, whenever I say it in my head, or try to say it out loud, I say “foil can”—apparently I have HVAC dyslexia). I hate having people come into my condo when I’m not there, because I worry about being judged for cleanliness, aesthetic taste, and how things smell when I’m not there to make excuses like “Sorry, I was cooking with garlic last night”, or “I just moved in—sorry about the mess”. So on Monday night, I made sure not to cook anything too spicy or fishy and lit scented candles. Then on Tuesday morning, I tidied up extensively, emptying all the wastepaper baskets, straightening up the cushions, putting the dishes away, and making sure that everything was either centred or at the right angle (I like to have things on a particular angle–for example, the chairs at my kitchen table face the room at 45 degrees, and the couch cushions are tucked into the corners of the arms to create equilateral triangles. This is what I learned from 3 years of high school math, aside from how to calculate tips, or figure out how many square feet of tile I need for a kitchen backsplash). Everything looked lovely, and hygienic, and correctly angled, so after one last spray of Lavender Vanilla Febreze, I left for work. When I got back later, fully expecting to have had my coil fan unit serviced, I found two notes on the bench by the door. The first note said that the unit had been entered in my absence for the purpose of maintenance. I appreciate this type of note, because the management company also leaves one if they have to come in without any warning, like when Cindy next door flooded her apartment and they came in to check for leaks. Then I know to give the place a really good search instead of just looking under the bed for intruders. But then there was the second note: “Unfortunately, we were unable to service the coil fan unit due to an object in front of the service panel obstructing our access.” WTF? I looked over—the object in question was a small wooden chair, placed on a perfect 45 degree angle to the corner and about a foot away from the service panel. This was the OBSTRUCTION? You’re telling me a grown man couldn’t have slid the chair over a few more inches? I could move it across the f-ing ROOM with one finger. The situation was so ludicrous that the only possible explanation was that the chair had somehow come to life and had refused to cooperate. So here’s the conversation that the chair and I had:

Me: What the hell did you do?
Chair: What? Nothing. What are you talking about?
Me: Did you see this note?
Chair: That note is bullshit. I didn’t do anything.
Me: It says you were obstructing the panel. Care to explain?
Chair: I wasn’t obstructing it—I was PROTECTING it!
Me: From what?! They were here to clean the foil can—I mean, the coil fan unit. What happened?
Chair: They didn’t look like service guys. One of them was carrying a gun. I think they were Mafia hitmen.
Me: A gun? What?!
Chair: No, they were from the Secret Service. I think they were trying to put a spy camera in the vent.
Me: Why would anyone want to put a spy camera in the vent of my condo? That’s ridiculous.
ChaI: No, it’s not. You work for the government, remember? You took an oath of allegiance to the Queen.
Me: What kind of government secrets could I possibly know?
Chair: You could be a sleeper agent and not even realize it. You should be grateful. I saved you from possible torture. You should have seen me—I was all intimidating and wood-y. I was just about to start kung fu-ing them when they got scared and left.
Me: They’re coming back next week. I’m putting you on the other side of the room and I want you to stay there.
Chair: Fine. But don’t blame me if nude surveillance pictures of you start showing up on the darkweb. Also, they were making fun of your decorating. I believe the phrase was “eclectic—but not in that GOOD way.”
Me: You’re such a jerk.

The next day, I re-read the notice in the elevator, and in the fine print, it said that the “HVAC technicians are not allowed to touch personal objects.” Since when is a wooden chair a personal object? I would assume that this statement would apply more to things like not going into your bedroom and fingering your lingerie, or using your toothbrush. So now I have to go through another round of intensive tidying and Febrezing because some service guy can’t move a chair 6 inches. Even if the chair is an obnoxious ass.

Wednesday: Bathroom shenanigans

For the last week, I’ve been working off-site at a large convention centre. There are hundreds of other people at the site, and only one women’s bathroom. At my usual workplace, I can time my visits so that there’s little chance of anyone else hearing me pee (you can think this is weird if you want, but there are a LOT of people who find that uncomfortable), but this week, I’ve had the “pleasure” of using the facilities with a lot of unusual strangers:

First, there’s the woman who speaks to the tap. OK, in fairness, she talks to a lot of things, but the tap must be the best conversationalist of the bunch, because they have some pretty intensive debates. I get that she has some mental health issues, but it’s still disconcerting to be in a stall, overhear two people arguing in angry whispers, come out, and realize there’s only one other person in the room. I was fully expecting to find the word REDRUM scrawled on the mirror in lipstick (Stephen King reference, y’all).

On Tuesday, I went into the bathroom and a woman hid behind the corner near the hand dryer when she saw me. It freaked me out a little, but then I realized that she was talking on a cell phone. I figure it must be a really private conversation, so I did what I had to (as quietly as I could, of course) then left. About an hour later, one of my colleagues came out of the bathroom looking really worried. When I asked why, she said, “When I went in, some woman ran and hid behind the corner and she stayed there the entire time. It was weird.” When I told her the same thing had happened to me but over an hour earlier, we decided to get the security guard to check it out. It turns out that she was one of the facility workers and was trying to avoid doing her job. Which was serving coffee. Yes, I would love a cup of coffee passed to me by someone who has been hanging out in the BATHROOM for two hours.

Next, there was the woman who, on Wednesday, asked someone how the tap worked. It’s one of those taps where you have to put your hands under it to activate the water. This worried me—how did she go three days without USING the tap? Icky!

On Thursday, I was in a stall, and suddenly there was a camera flash from the stall next door. What the heck? I looked down and could see the shadow of a cellphone in someone’s hands. My first and only thought was that she must be breaching security and taking pictures of confidential material. I lingered at the hand dryer and watched her stall surreptitiously. I could see her moving around and then raising one arm above her head like she was stretching. When she came out though, she wasn’t carrying any papers or documents. Strange. When I told my co-workers that I had seen a flash, then saw the shadow look like she was texting the image to someone and that I was worried she was stealing information, they started laughing hysterically. “She was taking pictures of her ladyparts and sending them to someone!” a colleague exclaimed. “You’re so naïve!” (Actually, she said “hoo-hoo” instead of ladyparts, but some of you might not be familiar with that word, hence my substitution of “ladyparts” for clarity). I guess I AM naïve—how sexy is it to take a picture of yourself when you’re on the toilet? Is it some kind of Shades of Grey thing? Double-icky! There are a lot of people who absolutely refuse to use public bathrooms and now I understand why.

Saturday: I need the Red Cross

As I write this, I am currently recovering from food poisoning. It started yesterday, and while I’m no longer feeling sick, I have terrible stomach pains. I called my doctor’s office and the nurse said not to eat anything today, but just to drink a lot of fluids to let my system recover. I hate being sick, mostly because Ken is not the best nursemaid in the world. He tries, but it’s just not his forte. For starters, he keeps suggesting that I eat an apple to make me feel better. I know, right? Then I asked him to go to the store and, as per the nurse’s suggestion, get me some Vitamin Water. Which he did, kind of. And bear in mind, I get extremely grumpy when I’m sick.

Me: Do you remember when I asked you to get me some Vitamin Water, and I specified the flavours Orange, Fruit Punch, or Raspberry? Why did you get me Strawberry-Kiwi, Citrus, and Blueberry-Acai? It’s like you did it deliberately.
Ken: There was a sale. They didn’t have the flavours you wanted. Anyway, strawberry is just like raspberry.
Me: No, it’s not! Do you remember last night when you tried to pawn off those Strawberry-Banana drinking boxes you bought that no one likes—I told you then that I hate anything strawberry-flavoured. And the nurse told me to avoid anything acidic, like CITRUS. And Blueberry-Acai—what is that, anyway? I can’t even pronounce it! It sounds gross! What am I supposed to do now? I need something in my stomach! I’m starving!
Ken: Why don’t you have an apple? Didn’t you say that’s what the nurse told you?
Me: Rice, Ken! She said RICE!

Oh well. He has many other fine qualities, and he DID rub my back until I fell asleep last night. Also, he brought my laptop upstairs and set it up so I could lie in bed and write. The Red Cross would never do all that.

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My Week 29: Water, Water Everywhere, Rudeness, and Plant Manslaughter

Monday: I come home and almost have a heart attack

So if you read this blog regularly, you know I had a little issue with water in my condo a couple of weeks ago. It seemed like a lot of water at the time—OK, it WAS a lot of water, but in my defense, kitchen sinks SHOULD have an overflow drain. It was pretty traumatic, partly because I was worried about damaging the condo and being sued, and partly because for several minutes while I got hysterical with Ken on the phone, I was completely naked and standing in front of an open window, which led me to worry for several days that there might be someone in the building across from me who could see me through a telescope and was now watching me continually in case I ever did it again (ran around naked that is, not flooded my condo). Then I realized that at my age, who in their right mind would be interested in that kind of show? Also, no one came to my door and accused me of being an irresponsible tenant and turning my condo into a splash pad, so I kind of forgot about the whole thing. Then, I went home last weekend, and left right from home to go to work on Monday morning. So I had been away from my condo for 3 days and 2 nights. On Monday night, I was super-tired and got on the elevator to go to what I like to call “Sky Lab” since I’m up really high and have floor to ceiling windows, which makes you feel kind of like you’re just OUT THERE. When I got to my floor, I could hear this roaring noise, and it got even louder as the elevator doors opened. I couldn’t see anything at first but then I turned the corner and just about passed out. The carpet in front of my condo door was all torn up, there were three industrial fans blowing down the hall, and there were wet/dry shop vacs outside my door. What the hell had I done?!! Was it possible that I could have left a tap running before I left for the weekend and had flooded the entire 27th floor of my building?! My first instinct was to turn around, get back in my car, and go home (where it was dry and there were overflow drains on EVERYTHING). But as I took a step forward in preparation for turning and fleeing the scene, I realized that my neighbour’s door, which is on a 90 degree angle to mine, was open. I peeked in just as a strange guy splashed his way out of her closet on his hands and knees with a section of the baseboard in his hands. I asked him what happened, trying to sound very concerned instead of VERY RELIEVED, but he didn’t really speak English, so all I got was, “Lot of water”. “Gosh, that’s too bad,” I answered, secretly thrilled. Why ‘thrilled’? Because when I went into my own unit, there was a note there to tell me that the property manager had entered my condo to look for water damage, but couldn’t find any. But if they HAD…tee hee. There’s no way I’m getting blamed for anything, now that the flood of the century happened next door. Water damage in the unit under me? Golly, it must have been when Cindy flooded her unit, poor kid (her name’s not Cindy, by the way–I just call her that). And when the industrial fans ran for four solid days right outside my door, making me want to gouge out my own eyes, I comforted myself against the unbearable noise by remembering that I was in my own condo, not paying for a hotel room until her unit was dry, like Cindy. Did I at any point sneak out into the hallway late at night and TURN OFF THE F-ING FAN? I admit to nothing. And I mean NOTHING.

Tuesday: Some people are too rude.

My building has a 24 hour concierge service, which makes me feel fairly secure. I still lock my door even if I’m just going to the garbage chute down the hall, and every night when I’m in, I check under my bed for intruders (because you NEVER KNOW, that’s why). And tonight, I opened my balcony door for the first time and got a little panicky because the screen door has no lock on it. But how could anyone get in through your balcony door, seeing as you’re 3 million feet up in the air, you ask? Parkour, maybe, I don’t know. But that’s not important. What’s important is that the people who work behind the concierge desk are extremely pleasant and helpful. Except for Gus (again, not his actual name—I just call him that). I only ever saw Gus once, right after I moved in, then he went “on leave”, presumably to have that surgery where they insert a wire brush up your ass. Gus is incredibly rude, and I wouldn’t care except that he’s only rude to ME. I tried engaging him in conversation the other day, and he just grunted a response to everything. Then I pleasantly asked him the next day if he knew how long the industrial fans would be running outside my door, and he said, “How would I know? I only work nights.” Which is stupid to begin with, because the fans also do their best work at night. It occurred to me that he might just be an unpleasant person, then on Wednesday morning, I left for work earlier than usual and Gus was still behind the desk. I sat down in the lobby to wait for my ride, and I watched him say a cheery and absolutely heart-warming greeting to everyone who was also going to work. I was baffled. Then a young girl went to the desk, to ask him a question, apparently about the flood on my floor. This was what happened.

Gus: Are you still having problems? Didn’t they fix (unclear) yet? You let me know if no one’s been by tomorrow morning and I’ll talk to them.
Girl: So what happened?
Gus: Oh, you should have seen it—like a fireman’s hose, ha ha, going all day long—so much water!!…blah blah blah….
(At this point, I moved to the concierge desk. Gus was obviously in a happy, chatty mood, and I was dying of curiosity.)
Me: Oh, so was it a burst pipe then?
Gus: Yes. (silence)

End of conversation. Plus, he glared at me. Maybe I remind him of someone who cut him off in traffic once (people in Toronto get really insane about that). In the long run, though, I don’t really care if he doesn’t like me, as long as he does his job and stops the crazy people out on Yonge Street from wandering into the building and making their way to the space under my bed. But I have a sneaking suspicion that he would tell them what unit number I’m in if he had the chance.

And then, later that day, a colleague and I had to drop some things off at a printing company. It was a really big job and they are a pretty small company, so you’d think the manager would be grateful for the business and be all obsequious and sh*t. Think again. He gave us a really hard time, and when I asked him if he had our company’s contact information on file, he said, “That’s not the issue, obviously.” Really? OBVIOUSLY? Cuz I think the issue is that you don’t really understand customer service, which is why you’re a SMALL printing company in a city the size of Uranus. Which is where you can shove your attitude. Then he was even more rude to my co-worker, who is the most professional and polite person ever. I so badly wanted to say, “Hey Summer’s Eve, why don’t you crawl back into the bag you came from”, but I was on company business, plus I would only ever say that in my head. In real life, if he was that rude to me and I was on PRIVATE business, I would have just said something like, “You’re really rude. I’m taking my business elsewhere.” Because in real life, I’m much more Jane Austen than Samuel L. Jackson.

Saturday: I look for a plant to kill

I love my garden, and I love plants. As long as they’re outside. I have a rule in my garden—I will plant you and occasionally water you, and the rest is your deal. Most garden plants are just fine with this and manage to thrive without much help from me, aside from me making sure that weeds don’t choke them out. House plants are a whole other matter, though. I seem to have absolutely no knack with houseplants whatsoever. Unfortunately, for both me and them, I really want plants in the house. I haven’t had any for a while, aside from the straggly hibiscus that Ken’s mom gave me years ago, which spends all summer outside looking gorgeous then comes in for the winter and pretty much withers away under my care until the weather gets warm again, and a stupid fern that Ken won’t let me throw away. I got it as far as the front porch in January, and while I was vacuuming up all the dead leaves, Ken snuck it back in the house, because I’m “only allowed to have one fern and if I can’t keep it alive all winter I can’t get a new one”. It’s like a test of character, or a Nietzschean struggle of the wills. Nietzsche once said “that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”, so I like to think that I’m helping the fern survive the zombie apocalypse. Last month, Ken bought me a pot of daffodils as a gift for my condo, and it sat proudly on my table until the lack of consistent watering did it in. Well, how am I supposed to know that it needed to be watered EVERY DAY? What am I, its mother? Anyway, Ken said he would take the bulbs home and plant them, which left me with no plant for my condo. Today, we went to the big Loblaws at the old Maple Leaf Gardens (where they have 100 hockey seats welded to the wall, which terrifies me—I always lean as far away from them as I can when I’m on the escalator). I wanted a replacement plant, and Ken was no help at all.

Me: Oh look! They have orchids—I’ve always wanted an orchid!
Ken: They’re $24.99. Are you really going to pay that much money for something you’re just going to kill?
Me: I won’t kill it!
Ken: Yeah, you will.
Me: What about this campanula? Wait, they look pretty fragile…
Ken: You’ll kill it.
Me: I don’t kill everything, you know.
Ken: (snickers) They have nice cut flowers. Get a bouquet—they’re supposed to die eventually anyway.
Me: Wait, there are orchids here for $14.99!…no, you’re right. It’ll die. What about these African violets? I had one once and it lived for a long time.
Ken: I remember that. It’s a good choice—it might survive.
Me: You’re so mean!
Ken: I have to be—I’m a member of the Vegetation Protection League.

So I got the African violet instead of the orchid. When I got it back to the condo, I watered it. I hope it appreciates my efforts and understands that it might be a while before it sees any more water. Unless there’s another flood.

My Week 28: Speakerphone, Underwear Traumas, and Pepperspray

Tuesday: The joys, and pitfalls, of speakerphone

The whole concept of the speakerphone is a wonderful thing, but you have to be careful about what you’re doing when you use it. I had, prior to living in Toronto during the week, used speakerphone with our landline once in a while, mostly if I was trying to get dinner ready and I really needed to talk to someone while I was chopping vegetables, or whatever. But our kitchen is too big to use the function effectively—I’d have to lean over the chopping board to get close enough to the phone so that I didn’t sound like I was cooking dinner in a large cavern. I never used the speakerphone function on my iPhone until I moved to Toronto, but my condo is only a little over 600 square feet, so it doesn’t really matter where I am in relation to the phone in order for me to have a pretty lengthy conversation. But I’m getting a little cavalier with the activities I’m doing whilst talking on the phone—it’s not just chopping vegetables anymore, y’all. So on Tuesday night, I was talking to Ken. It was pretty late because my brother had been over for dinner, and we had definitely NOT been drinking AT ALL, but after he left, I realized that I needed to do a lot of stuff in a very limited amount of time with a slightly off-kilter sense of equilibrium). I called Ken, because I had promised to do it several hours earlier, and how time flies when you’re NOT drinking. Also, I needed to get ready for bed, and this is a ritual with many steps. So I’m talking to Ken on the phone, and he’s telling me all about his day, which is always highly interesting and usually involves some pretty intense cubicle-sitting (haha, honey—I know you work VERY hard) when he stops abruptly.

Ken: Um, what are you doing right now?
Me: Nothing. Talking to you. What do you mean?
Ken: I thought I heard splashing. Are you having a BATH right now? While we’re talking?

Then I got worried that he might think I had flooded my apartment AGAIN, so I had to admit that yes, I was in the bathtub. But once I had done that, it was a slippery slope to the rest of the bedtime ritual, so we continued the conversation while I washed my face, and talked through brushing my teeth (although I had to repeat myself several times because Ken can’t understand “toothbrush talking”). But Ken is a pretty astute guy, so I refrained from actually flushing the toilet, because if he knew I was in the bathtub, he was for sure going to know that I had been talking to him while I “finished my bedtime routine”. Because let’s face it—using the toilet is like chopping vegetables in that you need both hands to do either. I don’t know if there’s any actual etiquette about using speakerphone, but I’m willing to bet that, aside from simply letting someone know that they are on speakerphone so you don’t say something rude about someone else in the room, NOT using the toilet while you’re talking to someone is considered de rigeur. But what they don’t know (or hear) can’t hurt them, right?

Wednesday: I lose a sock and am reminded of other underwear traumas

On Wednesday, I decided to do some laundry. I don’t go through a lot of clothes, but every once in a while, I run low on socks and underwear, and I have a washing machine and dryer right in my condo, which is super-convenient, except that there’s only one knob between the two machines. (When I moved in, several essential items were missing: the plug for the bathtub, the plug for the kitchen sink, and the toilet paper holder. I had notified the management company, but they ignored my requests, and I resorted to Bed, Bath, and Beyond in order to have a bath, do dishes, or pee. The knob for the dryer was also broken, but I’d given up on any help from “Kimberley”, my cheerful but absent landlord, so I’ve been taking the knob off the washing machine and using it to start the dryer. That was a lengthy explanation for something so trivial—sorry.) At any rate, I was doing the laundry on Wednesday night, and when I went to take the clothes out of the dryer, it turned out I was missing one of my socks. This may sound like a First World problem, but I don’t keep that many pairs of socks in Toronto, so it’s more akin to having my donkey go lame or my crops being ruined by drought. And it also begs the question: what the hell happened to my sock? I’m pretty sure it went INTO the dryer, so what happened to it? Is there really an alternate universe where lone socks go? I checked the washing machine AND the dryer at least twice more and there was no sign of it. Then I searched my closet—same thing. As I said before, it’s only a 600 square foot condo, so there aren’t that many places for a sock to go. And now I’m worried that maybe it’s hiding in a pair of pants or a sweater or something, and that it will re-appear at an embarrassing moment. While this may seem like a long-shot, believe me it’s not—I’ve had it happen before…(flashback time, folks).

October, 1991: Ken and I had moved to Thunder Bay so that he could go to teacher’s college. I couldn’t find a paying job—there were 3 rounds of interviews just to be a waitress—so I started volunteering at a local public school. I went there every morning to help students in the “literacy centre”, which was, in reality, a small room with one computer. On the way to school that fateful morning, I was on the sidewalk in front of the building when I looked down and realized that the toe of a pair of pantyhose was peeking out from my pant leg. I stopped. The best way to remove it seemed to be to just pull it out. This was, of course, easier said than done, and I stood there for several minutes, bent over, tugging, hopping, and wriggling around until the offending piece of laundry was finally extricated from my trousers. I shoved it in my pocket, and went into the school. When I got into the “literacy centre”, the teacher I was volunteering with asked me, “Um…what were you doing outside?”

I explained that I had an issue with a misplaced pair of pantyhose, and asked, “Why? Could you see me?”
“Yes,” she replied, “We could.”

We?! Who the hell was WE?! Well, it turned out that she had been in the grade 2 classroom next door, and she, along with 25 seven-year-olds, watched out the windows in gleeful fascination at my bizarre behaviour. Of course, they couldn’t see the pantyhose–all they could see was me doing an insane dance on the sidewalk. Thankfully, I was able to produce the nylons from my pocket to prove that I wasn’t drunk, or hallucinating about being attacked by a swarm of bees. But that’s not the only time I’ve had problems with underwear and sidewalks…

March 1998: I was about 5 months pregnant, and was getting very uncomfortable with a variety of articles of clothing. I’d resorted to wearing flannel shirts and sweat pants a lot, but I had to give a workshop in Dundas. I found the only dressy clothes that still fit and put them on in an attempt to look professional. On the way home, I was feeling all twisty and itchy, and I said to Ken that I really wanted to take off my bra. He said, “Go ahead. NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW.” (When you read that last line, pretend that it was said very ominously, and that it was accompanied by a roll of thunder or an echo or something.) Taking his advice, I wriggled out of the bra and tossed it aside. A while later, we were going through the small town before ours, and we decided to stop at the local video store. “I can’t go in,” I said. “I’m not wearing a bra.” “Just put on your raincoat,” said Ken. “NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW.” (This time pretend that he laughed maniacally and that everything went red and flame-y for a second.) Again, taking his advice, I put on my raincoat, and in we went. Two minutes later, the door opened, and this huge guy wearing a red lumberjack jacket and work boots stomps in. And he’s TWIRLING MY BRA AROUND HIS FINGER.

“Hey, Darlene,” he laughs. “Is this yours? I found it on the sidewalk outside the store.”
“Not mine! And it wasn’t there when I went out for a smoke a few minutes ago!” she replies.

And then, like in slow motion, they both turn and look at me. At that moment, I had a choice—I could lie, and everyone would know, or I could salvage what dignity I had left. So I stalked over to the guy, grabbed my bra out of his grubby hands, and walked out of the store. Well, it was an expensive bra. Ken and I tried to piece the whole thing together, and all we could figure is that, when I tossed the bra aside twenty minutes earlier, it must have landed on the floor of the car, and it caught on my heel when I got out, leaving Joe Lumberjack to retrieve it. Needless to say, we never went back to that store again.

So in conclusion, I want my f-ing sock back.

Friday: I almost use my pepper spray

A couple of weeks ago, one of my very dear aunts gave me a gift. It was a small container of “aggressive dog spray”, which is what they call pepper spray so that no one thinks you are actually planning to use it on humans. But let’s face it—how many aggressive dogs are roaming the streets of downtown Toronto? Any dog I’ve seen so far is either a very tiny dog owned by a very well-groomed man, or a very scruffy dog owned by a very nice panhandler. When my aunt gave it to me, she cautioned me: “Use it sparingly,” she said. When I showed it to the women I work with and told them I’d been instructed to use it ‘sparingly’, they laughed and said, “How often are you planning to use it?! Only once, hopefully!” But don’t forget, I live in the heart of downtown Toronto, where people scream uncontrollably, or wear balaclavas and walk down the street moaning. Anyway, yesterday morning, I was walking to work, which is literally 2 minutes on a slow day. I was half a block from my condo when a woman walked up beside me. Bear in mind that the sidewalk is ten feet wide, and it was really early so there was no one else around. The woman spoke in a very hostile voice: “She thinks she’s on a tour. Move faster why don’t you? Fucking get out of the roadway.” (Sorry about not censoring the swearing, but I repeat this verbatim). I could hear her very clearly, and assumed that she must be talking on her cell phone. Then I looked at her out of the corner of my eye. She seemed perfectly normal. She was very tall and heavyset, and was wearing a ski jacket and a backpack. As our eyes met, I realized that she had no cellphone. And no ear buds either, so she wasn’t singing along to some bizarre Iggy Azalea song. Nope, she was talking to me. And I was walking almost as fast as her, and was NOT in her way. My hand crept along to my purse where my “aggressive dog spray” resided, because despite her “normal” appearance, she was obviously having one of those Jame Gumb moments from Silence of the Lambs (“It puts the lotion on its skin”, etc. where she was narrating the serial killer thoughts in her head). Then she disappeared into the 7-11 on the corner, and I hightailed it into my secure office building. But I sure wish I could have tried out that pepper spray. Don’t worry—I would have used it sparingly.

My Week 27: Grammar Haters, Titus Goes Missing, and ‘Voice Threatening’ vs Ninjas

Monday: You can’t tell some people anything—especially people on Buy and Sell sites.

As you all know, I am a member of several Buy and Sell sites. I often get a kick out of the way that these people abuse each other for no particular reason, but normally I stay out of any comment thread and just use the sites to buy cool stuff like random pillars for the corner of my office or extra hoses for our central vacuum cleaner. Buy and Sell sites are like a microcosm of humanity—the part of humanity that is very stubborn and single-minded, even when faced with empirical evidence that they are wrong. And when you tell them they are wrong, they get a little pissy. Here are two examples:

1) On Sunday, I read a post from a woman who was selling a pair of black Pumas which she claimed were brand new, and size 9. I really liked them, so I contacted her, and made arrangements to try them on. When I got to her house, I was greeted by two dogs, a pug, which bit my hand, and a skittish collie cross which stood and growled at me the entire time I was there. “Don’t worry,” said the woman. “She won’t bite you.” I was having significant trouble believing this, as the dog kept advancing towards me menacingly, then backing away when I held out my hand for it to sniff. I couldn’t help but wonder at that point why anyone would have a dog that acted like that towards visitors that you had WELCOMED into your house. It seems simultaneously counter-intuitive and inhospitable. At any rate, I’m not afraid of dogs, so the woman brought out the shoes. I went to put one shoe on (having to bend over and have my head so close to both a bouncing pug and a growling collie was a feat of bravery in itself) and it became immediately apparent that there was no way in hell that shoe was going over my toes, let alone onto my foot.

Me: I can’t get in on my foot. Are you sure it’s a size 9?
Woman: Yes, it’s a size 9, that’s what my sister told me. I’m selling them for her.
Me (looking at the tag): The tag says size 6.
Woman: No, they’re a size 9. They must just fit small.
Me: Well. I take a size 9, and there’s no way they’ll go on my foot. Umm…are you sure you’re not looking at the tag upside down?
Woman (huffy): No, they’re definitely a size 9.
Me (putting my own shoe back on while avoiding being bitten by the still snarling colie): Ok, well thanks anyway.

2) On Monday, I was reading a post on a Buy and Sell site from someone who wanted a custom made sign for her house. Someone else replied that there was a wonderful local company who made one for her, and she posted a picture of it. It said “The Power’s”. Now, anyone with a working knowledge of punctuation knows this is wrong, so I stupidly posted the following comment: “If you get one made for you, make sure the apostrophe is in the right place.” Then someone else asked why The Power’s was wrong and I posted an explanation, thusly, “If it’s to indicate that more than one person named Power lives in the residence, then it’s plural and should say The Powers. If it’s to indicate that the residence belongs to a family named Power, then it’s plural possessive and should say The Powers’. You would only put the apostrophe before the s if there’s only 1 Power, but it wouldn’t make sense to refer to one person as The Power. Unless he was, like, a superhero or something.” Ok, I know it was longwinded, and in retrospect, probably a little superior, but I was trying to be HELPFUL. Well, within 10 minutes, there were a series of nasty comments directed at me, that I should mind my own business, that she LIKED the sign, that maybe they WANTED it that way, and a random comment that it was Power, not Powers. So I replied that it was a nice sign, and that I didn’t invent the rules of grammar. Then I remembered some of the other ‘debates’ that I had seen (and laughed at) on this Buy and Sell site, and realized that it wouldn’t be long before someone called me a slut, or commented on the quality of my lady parts. So I did the sensible thing, and deleted ALL my comments. What I really wanted to say was “If you want to pay good money for a sign which tells the world that you’re functionally illiterate, that’s your business.” But I didn’t do that, because like I said, you really can’t tell some people anything. Plus it was Monday, and after what happened LAST Monday, I didn’t want to take any chances.

Thursday: I get really tired and Titus goes missing.

On Thursday afternoon, I finally got Ken to take our dog into the vet to get weighed. After being away in Toronto during the week, I would come home on the weekends, and it was becoming very apparent that Titus was gaining weight. Ken didn’t notice, of course, because he sees Titus every day, but I was worried that there might be something wrong with him. The dog, not Ken. I was driving home from Toronto when Ken called me from the parking lot to say that yes, he had gained weight but it was only 5 pounds so the vet figured it was from fewer walks in the winter and that he would be fine once he started getting more exercise and stopped eating random things around the house. The dog, not Ken. Then I picked T up from school, and we talked about a lot of things, including Titus being at the vet. A few minutes later, the phone rang, and it was my mother. Here’s how I know that I was really tired:

Mom: Honey, I don’t want to worry you, but we just came in to drop off the turkey for Easter dinner and… WE CAN’T FIND TITUS!
Me: What?! What do you mean, you can’t find Titus?!
Mom: We’ve looked all over the house, and he’s not in here! We looked around the yard and we can’t find him!
Me (freaking): Oh my god! Where could he be? Are you sure he’s not upstairs? Did you look behind the workshop? He’s got to be there somewhere!!
Mom: Try not to panic—I’m sure there’s a logical explanation. Is there any chance that Ken came home and took him somewhere?!
Me: (long pause): Sorry– Ken took him to the vet—I forget about that for a minute.
Mom (cheerfully): Well, that’s all right then. We’ll see you tomorrow.

When I told Ken, he got mad and said, “That’s a really mean trick to play on your mother, teasing her like that.” And then I had to admit that I genuinely forgot that he had Titus in the car, even though I had just talked to him 5 minutes before she called. Ken, not the dog.

Thursday Night: I’d rather have ninjas. Or Batman.

On Thursday night, Ken and I were watching the Weather Channel. Aside from very bizarre and entertaining closed captioning (like translating ‘Alberta Clipper’ into ‘Run Gaucho Dog’), it also features some crazy commercials, like this one from a home security company whose claim to fame is that, while some meth head is ransacking your house and scaring the crap out of you, they will use new interactive technology and actively “voice threaten” the intruder. What this means, from what I gleaned, is that they install a speaker system in your house that connects to their headquarters. When the alarm is tripped, or you call them because you heard weird noises downstairs, one of their ‘security technicians’ will address the potential criminal and threaten them verbally. So here’s the scenario. You hear someone in your house late at night. You call the security company. They advise you to hide in a closet, and then they use the speaker system to say things like, “Hey You! We know you’re in there. Put down the flatscreen and leave immediately! And don’t bother looking in the closets—NO ONE IS HOME!” Yep, that’s going to be really effective. Or how about, “We’ve got you surrounded—come out with your hands up!” There you are cowering behind a locked bathroom door, and some guy 5 kilometres away is PRETENDING to be a cop. What kind of idiot burglar is going to be fooled by this? All he has to do is look out the window to realize that it’s all a lie. If you really want to ‘voice threaten’ someone, I’d advise something more like “I’m a mercenary soldier and I did 5 tours of duty in ‘Nam. I hate the establishment and I own a lot of guns. If you don’t get the f—out of this house right now, I’m going to use the security camera footage to hunt you down and shoot out your kneecaps. And don’t bother looking in the bathroom—NO ONE IS HOME!”
Of course, the other thing that occurred to me is the legality of the whole operation. I mean, if you tell a criminal that the police are on their way and he needs to exit the premises immediately, aren’t you technically aiding and abetting a criminal? Like the police show up, the perp is long gone, and you tell the cops that your security technician TOLD the guy to book it cuz the popo were coming? I don’t think you should expect the police to EVER come to your house again. Plus, if I was the burglar, I’d keep breaking into the same place over and over again, just to see how much stuff I could steal before the security company gave me the heads up. Personally though, I would want a secret Ninja SWAT Team security system. No voice threatening, just a bunch of silent super-badass ninjas in SWAT gear swinging in through the windows and storming the place while I hid under the bed with my trusty baseball bat.
Realistically though, if you can’t have a really cool ninja squad to protect you, the next best thing is a dog. I know Titus would totally freak if someone broke into our house. And once, years ago, when Ken was away, a guy came to service our water heater and he was really creepy. He kept trying to get me to come down to the basement by saying things like, “Hey did you know you have an old cistern down here? You should come down and see it. Wow, it’s full of water–are you sure you don’t want to come down and look?” I was so creeped out that, when he came back upstairs, I made a big deal over how our dog at the time, who was the sweetest yellow lab on the planet, was actually “extremely vicious and protective if she thought anyone in the family might be in danger”, while she was running around excitedly and wagging her tail. I think he bought it though, because he left pretty quickly after that. That’s why no matter what Titus eats that he shouldn’t, I can never get really mad at him, because one day I might need his size and intimidating looks.

(On a side note, do you think that the security company has a yearly award for the most creative ‘voice threatening’? It would almost be worth it if I could hear the security technician spend the whole time voice threatening a burglar in a Batman voice, or driving them out of the house by singing Justin Bieber songs over and over again.)