My Week 134: Failing at Adulting, Toronto the Weird

Thursday: Failing at Adulting 101

Currently, I’m working off-site at a large convention centre with approximately 1500 strangers. They’re all adults, ostensibly—well, they mostly LOOK like adults, but based on the last couple of weeks, some of them really aren’t sure what being an adult means. The first thing that always strikes me each year (because we do this every year around the same time) is the fact that, at the end of the day, people, I mean, like, grown-ass human beings, will RUN from their areas to the parking lot to get into their cars 10 seconds ahead of everyone else. Yeah, I get that it’s hard to get out of the parking lot when 1500 other people are trying to do the same thing, but where the hell are you going that you can’t sit and listen to some tunes for 5 minutes while the police (yes, we actually hire police to direct the traffic) sort that sh*t out? They RUN. It’s unbelievable. We have to put up signs that say “No Running In The Halls” like it’s elementary school, and then stand there like hall monitors, yelling, “Slow down! You’re going to get hurt!” But wait—it gets better. Here are the top five craziest things that prove a lot of people really need a maturity check:

1) The two women who gave one of our supervisors the finger when they tried to sneak out early. He called to them and reminded them that the work day wasn’t yet over, and that was their reaction, as they laughed and walked out the door anyway. The supervisor in question is a sweet little retired guy. Unfortunately he couldn’t identify them:

Me: OMG—who were they? I have no problem firing them tomorrow!
Supervisor: They were girls. They were wearing coats…
Me: Well, that narrows it down.

2) The guy who almost hit another employee who was walking to his car, then screamed at him to “Get off the f*cking road!” The pedestrian was quite shaken by the experience, but again, couldn’t identify the driver in his panic to not have both legs broken by the guy’s bumper. Luckily, the experience didn’t shake his sense of humour, and a couple of days later, he offered to get down on the floor and let us “drag him back to his chair United Airlines style” as a way to stop other people from trying to sneak out before the end of the day. We were sorely tempted, trust me, but we’re a Crown entity, so try explaining THAT to the Queen when she sees it on Youtube.

3) The people who, when asked on a survey to offer suggestions on how to make the work experience more positive, wrote things like, “footrests for everyone”, “reinstate coffee at lunch or I’m never coming back”, or “let us leave early”. I guess it’s the little things that matter. The REALLY LITTLE things. (By the way, we provide free coffee and tea at both morning and afternoon breaks).

4) The tiny woman who failed to pass her qualifying test three times (in order to work for us, everyone has to pass a test after intensive training) and refused to leave. Her reason (which was delivered in whispers):

Tiny Woman: Do you not understand? This is not fair to me. The other people in my group passed because I explained all the answers to them.
Me: If you gave them all the answers, then why didn’t YOU pass?
Tiny Woman: You don’t understand.
Me: That makes two of us.

She was whispering-ly adamant, and we almost had to call security to escort her out.

5) The icing on the cake came on Thursday. One large group of people (about 250 of them) were completely finished their work about 15 minutes before the end of the day. Their manager asked me if they could leave early, and I was like, “Well, it’s the afternoon before the Easter long weekend, so tell them they can go if they all exit out the cafeteria very quietly so that no one else sees them leaving and gets all distracted.” So she made that announcement, and after reading the above scenarios, you can probably guess what happened next. The second she put down the microphone, people started running out of the room, heading towards the main exit. My colleague and I hurried after them to start diverting them towards the cafeteria, at which point this huge guy comes barrelling towards me:

Me: I’m sorry, sir, but you’ll have to go out through the cafeteria.
Man: WHAT!!! WHY DO THEY GET TO GO THAT WAY???
Me: Well, they didn’t listen to instructions. We need you all to go out through the cafeteria.
Man: THAT’S NOT FAIR!!! THAT’S NOT FAIR!!!!!

And then he screamed something at me like, “Do as I say, not as I do!” and I seriously thought he was going to hit me because he literally had to walk 30 extra feet to get to his car.

But it gets better. Because of their riotous departure, the other groups in other rooms also started running out, until the whole scene resembled something from Dante’s Inferno, and God was like, “Nooo! You NEVER let them out early!” and I was like some sad-ass angel yelling, “I know that NOW, GOD!” But what I really wanted to do was scream, “THIS IS WHY WE CAN NEVER HAVE NICE THINGS!!” to the backs of the multitude, who I will never let out early again.

Saturday: Old Man Kicking Pigeons

I was looking for something to write about and checked my phone, where I keep notes. The only thing I’d put in there recently was “Old Man Kicking Pigeons”. I saw this at Dundas Square, a place in central downtown Toronto where strange things happen on a daily basis. The man was about 6 feet tall, wearing a dress shirt, dress pants, and leather shoes. He had white hair and a neatly trimmed white beard. And he was stomping around, Frankenstein-style, with his arms out in front of him, trying to kick the pigeons that were landing on the sidewalk to peck at crumbs and then running out onto the road to flail at them. Now, you might be all like “That’s horrible!”, but don’t worry because downtown pigeons are clever as f*ck, and instinctively can dodge cars, pedestrians, raccoons, and crazy old dudes. But this wasn’t even the weirdest thing that I saw there that day. There was also a woman dressed as Alice In Wonderland, but she had a rabbit face and ears and was standing on a large box. There was a man with a cat that does tricks like dancing on its back legs or jumping onto his shoulders, which, I suppose is pretty tricksy for a cat, considering Raven just gives me the death stare when I say, “Come here”. There are fire-eaters, proselytizers, steel drum musicians, sidewalk chalk artists, and someone wandering around wearing a poo emoji hat for who knows what reason. It’s like the worst circus in the world, but it’s free (unless you volunteer to pay for the ‘free’ Bible/Koran or give someone money for miming how to get out of a box), but everyone wants to see it. There are actually “sightseeing bus tours” in Toronto, these double decker jobs that stop at Dundas Square and everyone piles out and takes selfies with Alice and the guy with the “The Apocalypse is Nigh” sign (he actually has a very nice smile, which he doesn’t get to use much due to the end of the world coming and whatnot). And all I can think is how cool this must seem to all the tourists. But to me, the coolest thing is that it’s the only intersection with diagonal as well as straight pedestrian crossings, so suddenly the light will change and people are traversing the road in this incredibly orderly pattern, kind of like that city scene in The Matrix, only instead of the lady in red, there’s a homeless guy with his pants down around his knees and Neo is selling knock-off handbags while Mr. Smith is kicking pigeons. Toronto—it’s weird and wonderful, but mostly weird.

 

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4 thoughts on “My Week 134: Failing at Adulting, Toronto the Weird

  1. That’s an amazing work environment.

    We don’t have things that bad at work, but people can act surprisingly childish. I always wonder whether they really realize that this isn’t an assigned class – this is the way they manage to afford food.

    Your bunch sounds like people who either believe – OR KNOW – that a microscropic amount of additional work is never going to benefit them.

    • Yes, it’s a strange mindset. Personally, I take pride in what I do, but I suppose not everyone cares about work or their reputation, like some of these people.

  2. Dundas Square sounds like an amazing circus, even for one that’s free.
    The convention center where you’re working, on the other hand–now that sounds like the world’s worst circus.
    I was briefly shocked until I remembered that I used to work with someone whose email signature included the line “If I wanted to help people I wouldn’t have become a librarian.”
    Call me naive but every job I can think of–including librarian–involves helping people in some way or another.

    • Any of the librarians I’ve ever known have always been extraordinarily helpful. In fact, Ken and I were married by the chief librarian at the university we both attended (he was also an ordained minister!).

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