My Week 220: I’m All Uber It

So on Tuesday, my very good friend K emailed me to tell me that she had a ticket for a special Christmas concert featuring some of Canada’s best-loved performers on Wednesday night, but she couldn’t go. Did I want the ticket? she asked. I would! I typed. Then I hit send. And then I IMMEDIATELY regretted hitting send, because my brain had just shifted into overdrive, and was frantically grappling with things like a) where is it? b) how will I get there? C) MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE? If you know me at all, you know that doing things and being with people are not my strongest suit, and I had just flippantly agreed to a situation involving both of those. And there was no way of getting out of it, because she was very sad that she couldn’t go, but the fact that she could see me get enjoyment out of it eased the pain of not being able to go herself. Spoiler Alert: I DID go and I had a great time—one of my favourite Canadian bands, Billy Talent, performed–here’s a link to one of my favourite songs, WHICH they performed: 

I also know that a certain someone will be super-jealous that I saw Kim Mitchell play with Alex Lifeson of Rush, but that’s not the point. The actual point is that my blogger pal Aussa Lorens of Hacker Ninja Hooker Spy recently posted this:

“Remember when everyone was always talking about  FOMO – Fear of Missing Out? Well, I’d like to introduce you to FOMO’s cool stoner cousin, FOBI: Fear of Being Invited.”

And I realized that I too suffer from this FOBI-A. The truth is, the only thing I fear missing out on is being wrapped up in a blanket, drinking wine and watching the latest episode of pretty much anything on Netflix. But I’ve been trying hard to overcome it—as you might remember, I summoned up my courage to meet Gary Numan, and in the same vein, I was determined to deal with this particular invitation.

It was a rough day to begin with because something had happened to the heating system at work, and it was also in overdrive, like maybe IT had been invited somewhere too, resulting in our entire office feeling like a sauna. Now, I am always f*cking freezing, so for ME to complain about being hot is unusual. We all took refuge in our Director’s office, which for some bizarre reason, was an icebox, and we complained bitterly about the heat. At this point, I noticed that my armpits felt unusual, and I couldn’t figure out why. At first, I thought I had maybe forgotten to put on deodorant that morning because, even though I don’t normally sweat, I don’t suffer under the delusion that I won’t smell without a healthy dose of cucumber-green tea antiperspirant. I once worked with someone who didn’t believe in deodorant:

Colleague: I never wear deodorant. It’s part of the devil’s toolkit.
Everyone: What?
Colleague: It’s totally unnecessary. I don’t smell.
Everyone (smiling tightly): OK then.

But I distinctly remembered applying a healthy dose of the devil’s stick that morning. Was I finally having a “hot flash”? I haven’t had one yet, although I THOUGHT I was getting them at night, but it was just my vegan roommate sneaking out at 3 in the morning to crank up the thermostat to 78 degrees (25 Celsius) because fruit won’t keep you warm in bed.

Anyway, putting aside the intense heat and the fact that I was, in actuality, sweating, I started polling my coworkers about the best way to get to the concert venue. I got the following responses:

1) “Take the subway and walk the rest of the way.” The rest of the way was over 3 kilometres, and it’s December in Canada, so HARD PASS.

2) “There’s an underground streetcar that will take you right to Exhibition Place.” There is no such thing, and now I am super-suspicious of the co-worker who told me this.

3) “Why don’t you just treat yourself to a cab?” In what possible universe is sitting in the back of an old, smelly car, paying a small fortune to a guy who finds the most circuitous route to travel 6.3 kilometres in order to wrack up the meter a TREAT? This NOT my idea of a ‘treat’, but I was seriously considering it as the only option until…

4) “Just call an Uber.”

Me: Uber? Bah.
Colleague 1: Seriously. Get an Uber. I use them all the time. It’s really easy.
Colleague 2: Yes, Uber is great.
Me: Well, how do I call this Uber of which you speak?
Colleague 1: Just download the app to your phone
Colleague 2: I’ll send you a promo code to get ten dollars off your first ride.

Then they showed me how to download the app, how to set up an account, and how to use it. I was pretty skeptical, but I planned carefully. I had to be at the concert venue by 7 pm, so I needed to leave by no later than 6:15, taking into account the possibility of traffic, which meant I needed to call the Uber at exactly 5:55 pm. This was my plan:

5:05: Reheat leftovers and eat dinner.
5:35: Get freshened up and change.
5:50: Brush teeth and use the bathroom.
5:55: Call the Uber.
5:56: Use the bathroom again (safety go), get coat, take elevator down to lobby and wait for Uber to arrive.

At exactly 5:55, I confirmed my Uber, and then went to the bathroom. I was sitting there, when PING—there was a notification on my phone that my driver had arrived and I was like “How the f*ck did he get here before I was even finished my safety go?!”

So I rushed down to the lobby—sure enough, there he was, and I knew it was him because the app had sent me his picture, the make and model of his car, his license number, a glamour shot of his wife, and the name of his kid’s soccer team. He was a recent immigrant from Georgia (the country) and was very nice. He got me to the theatre in record time, which would have been fantastic except that the concert didn’t start at 7, that was when the DOORS OPENED. I wasn’t the only one who was bamboozled by this, and there’s nothing like a straight and organized line of very annoyed Canadians, all politely asking the huge bouncer if we could please come in, and him apologizing that he couldn’t let us in, that he was sorry about how cold it was, and to please help ourselves to the roasted chestnuts and hot apple cider provided by the venue.

Then, to get back to my condo, I called another Uber, who was also there in under a minute (how do they do that?!) and he was also very nice. And also from Georgia. He got me back to my condo in enough time that I could still snuggle under the covers with a glass of wine and watch a little Netflix.

So, to sum up, I learned that:

1) I am capable of doing things and being with people.

2) Uber is great and their drivers are Eastern European…?

3) Hot flashes—if I ever get one—are unpleasant, and even the devil’s toolkit won’t save you.




My Week 219: Rubbed the Wrong Way

On Tuesday, I got a massage. Now, I am no stranger to “the table”, having had many experiences, usually very positive, with massage therapy, but this time, it was really weird. I haven’t had a massage for over a year, but my brother and sister-in-law gave me a gift card to a fancy spa, so I thought, What the hell? Why not treat myself to something really relaxing? But now I’m starting to wonder if maybe either I’ve reached the point where relaxation is impossible, or the world of massage therapy has changed so drastically that it and I are no longer compatible.

I got to the spa after walking several city blocks in minus 10 degree weather due to College subway station being closed and under investigation for a “gun incident”. So I was absolutely freezing when I arrived. But I know the drill—go into the changeroom, get undressed, put on a thick, cushy robe, sit in a big cushy chair and wait for my blissful turn. I was getting nicely warmed up when the tiny RMT (at least that’s who I assumed she was, but now I’m not sure) walked over, shook my hand, and said, “Hi, Suzanne, I’m Terry. It’s nice to meet you” to which I replied, “I’m…nice to meet you too,” because I was going to introduce myself then I realized that she already knew my name and then I sounded kind of dumb, but that’s par for the course. Also, my mouth was partially frozen, so technically, I could have been muttering ANYTHING.

She took me into the room, and then said, “You can take off the robe and lie down on the table. I’ll be back in a couple of minutes AFTER I WASH MY HANDS.” I put that in caps because it sounded ominous and all I could think was, a) Is it because her hands are dirty? B) She just shook MY hand. Does she think MY hands are dirty? c) If HER hands are dirty, then should I wash MY hands? Is there a sink in here?

Now, you might say that I was overthinking things, but it was a combination of nervousness (what if she walks in the door while I’m still nakedly hanging up my robe?) and general OCD hygiene issues surrounding having strangers touch me in the first place. At any rate, I got myself somewhat settled on the table after wriggling around a bit to find the least irritating way to put my face in the hole, and then she knocked and came in. She started oiling up my back and asked casually, “So I assume you’re here for a FULL body massage?” and I said “Yes.” But then I got worried by what exactly she meant by “full body”. Was this like a massage with a “happy ending”? Because it didn’t seem like THAT kind of place. Was she talking about my upper lady parts? I’d never had anyone ask this before and I really didn’t want someone kneading my boobs. But the problem was, how could I clarify this without sounding like a total weirdo myself? Finally, after wrestling with the dilemma for about 5 minutes, I said, “By full body massage, I assume you mean back, arms, legs, feet—that kind of thing? My feet are really sore from walking here, so I hope they’ll be included in the fun, ha ha ha” and that sounded really f*cking creepy and I was like, My god, I am NOT relaxed at all.

But wait. It gets worse. She assured me that yes, she would make her way around to all the parts aforementioned, but after what seemed like at least half an hour, she was still on my back. She was using her forearm and just sliding it up and down really REALLY slowly in a way that was both irritating and a little boring. And I started obsessing that we would run out of time, and my feet would NOT get to join in the fun, nor my legs. I consoled myself by promising my legs and feet that if they were left out, I would take them to Pinky Nails and get a pedicure, which for $29 Canadian includes not only a full leg and foot massage, but also while your toenails are drying, one of the girls will come over and say, “You like shoulder massage?” and JUST GIVE YOU ONE and it’s awesome.

Finally, she did get around to my arms and legs. She was rubbing her forearm slowly up and down my left calf when suddenly, she asked, “Are your feet ticklish?” I had no idea how to respond because obviously the answer to that depends on the context, like “not normally” but “yes, if you have a feather”—apparently this was the segue into foot time.

I was quite relieved but then she did something I’ve never had done before—she washed them first. She got out these hot, wet towels and thoroughly scrubbed my feet with them, including between my toes. And I didn’t know if she was trying to be nice, or whether this just confirmed that she really DID think I was all germ-y and whatnot, and also it’s very disconcerting to have a total stranger wash your feet, like you’re some kind of biblical martyr.

After the feet, I was instructed to turn over, at which point, she started working on my shoulders, and I realized that a) she had been eating salami at some point during the day and was now breathing it down on me and b) all the essential oils in the world weren’t going to cover up that smell.

Finally, the whole ordeal was over, and she told me to go ahead and get up when I was ready—that she would be waiting for me. So I sat there for a very long time pondering the inevitable action of having to get out from under the cozy sheets and parade naked across the room yet again. I finally girded my loins (figuratively—I was naked), ran across the room, got on my robe, opened the door, and there she was—literally outside the door like a garden gnome. She scared the sh*t out of me, and then I felt immediately guilty for making her wait so long.

And I wonder if she also thought the whole experience was strikingly abnormal, because she was like, “Well, that was great. Bathe in Epsom salts later. Bye.” and then she just disappeared.

In addition to all of this, I had another gift card on file with the spa which, combined with my new one, would cover the massage. They couldn’t find it:

Girl: Would it be under C or W?
Me: It would be under whatever you put it under.
Girl: I can’t find it.
Me: Well, I don’t have it because the last time I was here, you said, “Let me take your gift card and put it on file for you.”
Girl: Do you know how much was left on it?
Me: I would if I had it, because you wrote the amount on it. But then you took it.

I made my way to the subway station to go home. It was super f*cking windy, and by the time I got on the train, my eyes were tearing really badly which wasn’t a real problem because all my make-up had been smeared off by the hole in the massage table anyway. So there I was, hanging on to a pole, sniffing and wiping tears from my smeary eyes, when a friend from work came walking towards me. “My god, is everything alright?!” she asked.

“Oh,” I answered. “I just had a massage.”

(*I woke up the next morning in agony. It took four days for my back to stop hurting and now I think that she wasn’t actually a massage therapist after all, just a demon with large forearms.)