Made To Measure

It’s been a busy week, so here are some things that have been happening, in no particular order:

1) I was out driving and realized that I was very close to the next mileage milestone, which was 99999 kilometres, followed immediately by 100000. My car is a 2013 and because I lived in Toronto during the week for several years, I didn’t drive it much. In fact, looking at my last mileage post, the incredibly funny and somewhat juvenile 80085 (my car has a digital readout and that spells BOOBS, in case you had any doubt that this blog was sophisticated and adult-ish in the non-porn way), I see that I posted my BOOBS picture on August 23, 2020. Yes, it took me a year and a half to drive not quite 20 000 kilometres (that would be around 12, 427 miles for my Imperial friends). But by the time I realized I was almost at another photo-worthy moment, however, I was in my driveway, the odometer read 99996, and I was too tired to drive around the block several times, so I decided to wait until the next morning when I had to see my doctor about sudden tinnitus in my right ear. And even though I had to pull over twice in the space of two minutes to get 99999 and then 100000, I still made my appointment on time. I do this for YOU and not me, so I hope you appreciate my efforts.

2) I was cleaning out a kitchen cupboard and I found a small, antique salt shaker far in the back. I couldn’t remember buying it but it was pretty so I took it out to examine it. When I shook it, something rattled. I got excited for a second but then I realized it was just an old cork that was inside, so I grabbed it and pulled it out. But something was still rattling—there was a piece of paper in there, tightly folded up. I was immediately intrigued—could it be a secret message? Directions to treasure? A cry for help? A love note? The possibilities were endless, but they ended when I extracted the paper with tweezers, unfolded it breathlessly, and realized that it was blank. WHO DOES THIS? Who would put a blank piece of paper into an antique salt shaker?! A friend suggested that maybe the message was written in invisible ink, but when I held a lighter up to it, it burned like any other stupid piece of paper. What a letdown.

3) Ken and I decided to rearrange our living room a bit and get a larger bookcase. He was going to build one, but with the price of wood, we decided to try buying one secondhand first, which meant a foray into Facebook Marketplace. One of the first posts to pop up was for a fairly simple wall unit listed for $150.

When I scrolled down to the description, it said this: “No idea how big it is.” Seriously? How do you have a piece of furniture and be at a complete loss as to its size? If only there was an easy way to find out. So here are some suggestions, QUINN:

A) You can measure it with a measuring tape.
B) You don’t have a measuring tape? Borrow one from a friend.
C) You don’t have any friends? I’m not surprised, given your lack of interest in things like measurement. But you could try frame of reference, like, ‘I’m 6 feet tall and it’s slightly shorter than me, and when I lie down, it’s slightly longer than me.”
D) You don’t know how tall you are? Go to a local convenience store and stand next to the entrance. There’s a height bar RIGHT THERE.

At any rate, we bought a very nice shelving unit from a man who had taken the time to discover its dimensions all on his own. And now my living room is in chaos as we move things around and have to sell a china cabinet. I wonder how tall it is…?

I Scream, You Scream

The other day, Kate and I were driving on the 401, the ridiculously busy highway that stretches across Ontario, and the traffic was heavy, mostly with trucks. But not the usual kind of transport trucks—no, these were random ‘wide load’ trucks, or dump trucks, or trucks carrying large sheets of glass or drywall. Finally, we passed something strange:

Kate: Is that a…streetsweeper?
Me: It looks like it. Weird.
Kate: Like it just drives from town to town on the highway, looking for streets to sweep?
Me (fake English accent): Good day to you, my lady. Would you care to have your street swept? Or perhaps have your knives sharpened?
Kate (laughs): What’s with the knives?

So I explained to her that, when I was a kid, there used to be a guy who travelled around different neighbourhoods on a large tricycle with a grinder mounted on the back, and for a dollar, he would offer to sharpen your knives and scissors. It was the worst, not because people would come running out of their houses brandishing sharp, deadly instruments (and this is obviously where the saying ‘don’t run with scissors’ came from), but—and I don’t know if it was the same for you or not—the knife guy had the EXACT SAME BELL AS THE ICE CREAM TRUCK.

The ice cream truck was, obviously, a fan favourite in our neck of the woods, and on a summer afternoon, you’d hear the faint ringing of the ice cream bell as it approached your street, and then all the children would beg their parents for a nickel or a dime, and we’d all run out and crowd around it, flush with loose change and excitement. But every once in a while, you’d hear a distant bell, and you’d grab your change and race to the street, and there would be the f*cking knife guy, with his adult sized kiddie bike and his stupid grinder, yelling “Bring your knives, bring your scissors”, as if he had some kind of bizarre death wish, because WE ALL WANTED TO STAB HIM WITH SAID KNIVES AND SCISSORS. Except for Mrs. Robertson, who always trotted out to greet him with an armful of kitchen tools, and what the heck was she butchering that she needed her knives sharpened that often?

At any rate, it was one of childhood’s greatest letdowns, hearing the ice cream truck only to discover it was the knife guy. Unless you were Mrs. Robertson.

In other news, every day when I pull into the parking lot at work, I see this:

It’s the height of irony, because the truck belongs to the owner of the garage, and that truck is parked there EVERY morning in front of the door upon which the owner has clearly painted “DO NOT BLOCK DOOR” in very large letters. Also, the owner of the garage AND truck felt it necessary to do fancy ‘O’s so that people would understand they’re not zeroes and wouldn’t be confused. As if THAT’S the most confusing thing about this whole situation.

Ups And Downs

This week, something amazing happened. It was a dream come true. No, I didn’t win a Nobel Prize for Sassy Literature—I didn’t even get the writer’s grant I’d applied for which, even though it was a long shot, still really made me sad. But then I was at work, and I got the opportunity to do something I’ve wanted for a long time. And if you’re thinking, “Mydangblog finally got to drive a forklift!”, you’d be sadly mistaken and also, driving a forklift around an antiques market would be a very bad idea, and I’ve always thought the saying, “Like a bull in a china shop” should really be “Like a forklift in an antiques market”. No, the exciting news is this—I got trained to operate the elevator! And while this doesn’t sound very earthshattering, given that most elevators are easily operated by literally a small child, and I myself have operated many in the past by pushing the up button or the down button, or in one terrifying case, the emergency call button, this elevator is very different, as you can see here:

The actual elevator is on a different floor in this picture. This is just the shaft.

It’s technically a freight elevator, and it looks f*cking terrifying, am I right? Like the gaping maw into hell, or a cave where vampires live. And it was my greatest heart’s desire to be able to run it all by myself. Now, thanks to my 21-year-old boss, who showed me how to use the buttons on the outside to bring it either up or down to our floor, then pull up and lower the gate, and use the buttons on the inside to take it either upstairs or to the basement, I am now officially trained to operate the elevator. How hard can it be? you ask. IT DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY STOP AT EACH FLOOR, BOB. That’s right—you have to wait until you get close to even with the next floor and then let go of the button. My boss told me a trick—there’s a slight click right before the elevator and the floor line up, so you can kind of predict when to stop. Here are some other helpful tips he gave me:

1. Don’t stick your foot in the gap between the elevator floor and the elevator shaft.
2. If you stop too high, don’t push the down button right away. Give it a second—any abrupt jerking can pull the elevator off its track.
3. The gate on Floor 3 only goes up three quarters of the way, so don’t try to force it or it’ll get stuck and you’ll never be able to lower it.
4. The elevator won’t move if the gate is open. The gate won’t open if the elevator isn’t there. This prevents clumsy people or small children from falling into the shaft.
5. Don’t jump up and down with excitement. You’ll knock the elevator off its track.

As you can see, operating a freight elevator, particularly one this old, is tricky and serious business, business which I have yet to put into practice, because all last week, whenever I tried to encourage someone to put their stuff on it, I got no takers. And I say ‘stuff’ because we’re not allowed to transport passengers in it, only their antiques.

Me: Hey Frank, that looks like a lot of boxes. You can put them on the elevator if you want.
Frank: No, that’s ok. I don’t mind carrying them up.
Me: But the elevator would be more efficient. I can—
Frank: No, I’m good. Hey! Did you tell anyone about that clock?
Me: The one I bought from you three months ago off the loading dock?
Frank: SSSSSHHHHHH!!! We shouldn’t be seen together!

At any rate, I’m biding my time. One day, someone will come along with a table or a large lamp and will need it taken upstairs, and I’ll be right there waiting. And then I’ll get one of the guys to come and open the gate because it’s really heavy and I can’t do that by myself because of my shoulder tendonitis, but once the gate’s up and they’ve loaded the table and they’ve shut the gate for me, I know how to get that table up to the next floor. All by myself.

The Importance of Pronouns; Cannons and Cocaine

I had the tremendous pleasure of being featured on the fab writer da-AL’s website/podcast Happiness Between Tails last week. My guest post was a short history of pronouns, and why people should stop worrying about what pronouns other people choose to use. You can read it, or listen to it, here: https://happinessbetweentails.com/2022/02/23/pronouns-suzanne-craig-whytock-podcast-henna-artist-alka-joshi/#comment-223338

There’s also a lovely intro by my friend da-AL and a very large picture of my face, and if you recall last week’s post, you can decide for yourself if I look like I qualify for the seniors’ discount.

In other news, I had what was probably the weirdest conversation I’ve ever had with anyone in my life last week. We get a lot of interesting characters coming into the antique warehouse where I work, but this guy took the cake, ate it, and then ran away with the plate. I was walking down one of the aisles, when a rather scruffy-looking man gestured at me. He was holding a tiny brass cannon about 6 inches long mounted on a wooden base.

Man: Isn’t this cool?
Me: Yes, it’s really cute.
Man: Do you think it works?
Me: You mean like, shoot cannon balls?
Man: Yeah. It looks like it could work.
Me: I think it’s a replica.
Man: But the metal’s really thick. Do you think I could drill a hole in it and get it to shoot cannonballs?
Me: Like put a fuse in the end, fill it with gunpowder, packing, and bb pellets or something?
Man (eyes light up): Ooh, good idea!
Me: No, I would worry that the brass might get damaged.
Man: Oh yeah, you’re probably right.

And I’m sure you’re thinking that THIS was the weird conversation, yet it’s not. Later, the same man asked me if I could open up a showcase so that he could look at a pair of high-powered binoculars:

Me: Here you are. They’re a very good price.
Man (holds binoculars up to his eyes): I was under police surveillance once… (pauses, readjusts binoculars, peers through them) …because I sell a lot of cocaine… (pauses, readjusts binoculars, peers through them) …and the police could see me from over a kilometre away. It was crazy.
Me: I hear the same thing is true of sniper scopes.
Man (hands me back binoculars): Yeah. It’s a good job they weren’t trying to shoot me.
Me: So that’s a no on the binoculars?
Man: Yeah, you can put them back. I’ll just take the cannon.

I have never in my life tried so hard not to laugh, but he was dead serious. And he sells a lot of cocaine.

Not cocaine. In case you were wondering.