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.