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.

39 thoughts on “I Scream, You Scream

  1. First of all, this is the first I’ve ever heard about a traveling knife sharpener. We had the ice cream truck, the bug spray truck, and the young men on their bicycles handing out pamphlets…. but someone just going around sharpening knives would be pretty creepy!

    Second, I’m pretty sure that O’s with a slash through them are supposed to represent zero, at least it was that way in my math classes. So the man who doesn’t want anyone to bl0ck the garage d00r he bl0cks made a big b00 b00…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. So is the owner of the garage Norwegian? Because that’s the only reason I can think of for the fancy O’s. If they had umlauts you’d know it was a practice garage for a heavy metal band so it could be worse.
    I also thought tinkers went out with Edwardian English novels. But then I remember seeing them on British TV shows even in the ‘80’s. I know some of them were also poachers, living as they were on the edge of society, so it’s probably a good thing you didn’t get any food from him.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Well this brought back some memories from my childhood……yeah we had a hardware salesman who also sharpened knives. He drove a van though. My dad was always out there with the dude because not only did he know him he also played baseball with my dad on the same team. Bahia van was full of tools and a sharpening machine too. Which if you think about it is kind of creepy…🔪🪓⚔️. It’s funny what one forgets until your read something similar…lol.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Slashing the O’s is even funnier because that means they ARE zeroes. Lol. That image would make a good meme. And a great story about the knife-sharpening man and ice cream truck confusion. I remember scrambling for change and running up the driveway. Our problem was not getting there on time, and not for lack of trying. Thanks for the laugh, Suzanne.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I wonder why ice cream? Why not licorice and lollipops? Beef jerky & corn-nuts? If you’re gonna drive around selling treats, a lot easier to travel with stuff that didn’t melt when you broke down.
    Reminds me of the most evil villain in history — the sweets-seller in Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. “… all freeee to-day.” “Treacle Tarts?!” What kind of ear-worm-tune do you play for those? I’ll bet ol’ dagger-nose had some sharp knives in his private collection.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I can see Mrs Robertson, waiting inside her house by her door with her knives, listening for the familiar ringing, hoping that damn ice cream truck didn’t come. All those pesky children came out whenever the ice cream man was around. Apparently, they thought the bells sounded alike. But she could hear the slight difference in how they rang.

    Her heart leaped as the familiar sound came. She glanced at herself in the mirror, giving a final touch to her hair, ignoring her wrinkles and weariness, collected her knives, and hurried out.

    The knife man eyed her as she came up. She saw the smile in his eyes. She could tell that he used to be very good looking. She would’ve liked to have known him then. Maybe they could have gone dancing…

    They smiled at one another. “Hello, Mrs. Robertson. How are you today?”

    “I’m doing good. How are you?”

    “I’m happy. Do you have knives for me to sharpen?”

    “Yes, I do,” she replied with a lost sadness. “Yes, I do.”

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I had no idea there was a knife truck! Interesting. The only familiarity I have with the “knife guy” is the musical “Oliver,” which we did when I was in high school. We opened with the street vendor scene of the woman selling flowers, the milk lady–and then, “Knives! Knives to grind! Any knives to grind?” I had no idea this kind of vending went on well past the days of the setting of Oliver.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. But I do that fancy thing to zeros, not….oh, heck, it doesn’t matter.
    The headline here is: are you 300 years old? How did a knife grinder come to your door, or like, exist contemporaneously?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Lol! What a cruel trick for you kiddos, with the knife sharpener having the same bell as the ice cream truck. You do see some weird stuff on the 401. I once saw a transport with a trailer-sized giant aquarium full of fish . . . yes, you could see into the aquarium. I think it was headed back from the Toronto Sportsman show.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. The ice-cream truck in my old Los Angeles neighborhood used to play Christmas tunes year-round, occasionally intermingled with “Turkey in the Straw,” the former being completely inappropriate from January through November, and the latter being inappropriate by definition!

    Liked by 2 people

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