My Week 242: Swearing an Oath

Recently, the secret agency took on a group of summer students. They’re a delightful bunch, young, enthusiastic and eager to learn. I like to check in on them every so often to make sure they’re doing ok, and last week one of them said to me, “Yes, it’s been great so far. But it was so weird–did you know, I had to swear an oath to the Queen?” And I was like, “Oh yeah–we all did that. It’s no biggie–it just means that if she needs you, you have to fly over to England. Sometimes she gets lonely. A couple of years ago, I got the call and when I got there, all she wanted was someone to listen to her gripe about Philip. Apparently he snores and spends WAY too long in the bathroom.” The girl looked at me in shock so I had to explain that I was kidding. But it reminded of me of how I reacted when I first hired at the secret agency and took the oath myself…

Because I just saw Avengers’ Endgame.

Before I started the job, I had to meet first with my Human Resources contact to fill in a lot of paperwork. We were filling in the usual forms—contact information, computer log-ins, keys, and other stuff, when she said, “Oh—although we’re a secret agency, you’re technically a public servant, so you have to take an oath of allegiance.” She said this kind of matter-of-factly, like I took oaths every day. (This is the beginning of me going off on a very long tangent, so sit back and enjoy.) Actually, I HAD just taken an oath recently, because that December, I fought a traffic ticket. I got nailed by a red light camera going through an intersection on the red light. BUT, to be fair, I was only going 40 km/hour, and didn’t think it was right that I had to pay almost $400 for NOT running a red light, but more like sauntering through it—honestly, I just didn’t see it, which I know is a lousy excuse, but I felt like someone needed to know that I am NOT by nature a red-light runner. So I went to traffic court, where they give you the option of swearing to tell the truth by either putting your hand on a bible, or by just saying it VERY SINCERELY without the bible. I opted for the latter, since I don’t think that anyone’s god particularly cares whether or not I lie in traffic court. Plus, they had a picture of my SUV and my licence plate actually IN the intersection where the light is clearly red, so there would be no point in lying anyway, since I was caught dead to rights. What could I possibly say? “Your Honour, this picture is obviously photoshopped. Your James Bond-ish hightech team is super-clever, but that’s not my truck.”? Long story short, it turns out I didn’t even need to be apologetic, because before I got to say anything, the court officer immediately announced, “We’re reducing your fine to $150.” I felt like he kind of stole my thunder, but I was in no position to complain. Then I had to go in front of the judge and plead guilty, but I qualified it thusly, “Guilty, your honour, but I didn’t mean to do it.” And the judge dismissed the case “with costs” and I wondered if that would also work for more serious crimes, like “Yes, your honour, I stole the puppy from the pet store, but I didn’t mean to do it. Look, he’s so snuggly” and the judge would be like “I completely understand. Give me one hundred dollars. So what are you going to call him?” But that would lead to anarchy, with people stealing puppies everywhere and whatnot, and also I would call him Alistair.

Anyway, so there I was, wondering what kind of oath the Human Resources person was talking about. Was it an oath where I promised not to look at porn or run an online dating service on my work computer? Because I have no problem with that kind of oath, since I have no interest in doing either, and can’t imagine what kind of person WOULD think this is OK to do at work. But wait—it was NOT that kind of oath. It was a pledge of allegiance to the Queen. Not a queen like Guinevere or Latifah, or the band Queen, or even a Disney Queen (by the way, I just googled Disney Queens and one of the search hits was “Why Drag Queens are better role models than Disney Queens”. I am DEFINITELY going back to read that one later.) No, it was THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND. Actually, I had a choice—I could either pledge my allegiance to “the Queen and all her heirs in the eyes of god”, or I could just pledge my allegiance to old Lizzy herself. So I chose the latter, again on the premise that I don’t believe that anyone’s god particularly cares about my relationship with an aging monarch. But the pledge was very vague, and I didn’t know what the ramifications of all this might be. What exactly are my responsibilities? If she commands my presence in England as one of her loyal subjects will she pay for the flight, or is that just one of the expenses that go along with being one of her servants? If she gets in a Twitter war with the Queen of Jordan, do I have to post nice things about her in her defence? Or worse, post mean things about the Queen of Jordan (who seems like a kind of cool queen herself)? Babysit all those grandkids? Walk the Corgis? So I guess the next time she’s having trouble picking out a hat for the Queen’s Ball or whatever, I might have to be there to help out. I mean, I took an OATH.

I picked out that hat.

My Week 191: Big Words, Flushed Away, My Superhero Posse

I like big words and I cannot lie.

I have a certain penchant for the multi-syllabic. I mean, why use a merely utilitarian word when a grandiose one will do? I have to be honest though—I don’t use unusual or archaic words in everyday conversation because I consciously think “Hey, it would really impress people if I said, ‘It’s not my forte’ as opposed to ‘It’s not my thing’”. I just really like words that are precise and carry a certain nuance, and I use them without even thinking about it, until someone looks at me and goes, “Huh?” Here are a couple of examples:

1) A few years ago, Ken and I were shopping for a new bedroom suite. We went to a local furniture store, and a very nice salesman started hovering, as they do, so we engaged him in conversation. When we told him we were looking for a king size headboard and footboard, he must have assumed we were tabloid celebrities who lived in Las Vegas because he immediately took us over to this incredibly overdone monstrosity in wood and gold lacquer.

Sales Guy: What about this set? It’s really stunning.
Me: I don’t know. It’s a little ostentatious.
Sales Guy: Austin who?
Me: Um, like ornate and pretentious.
Sales Guy: I don’t know any of those words.
Me: Super fancy?
Sales Guy: Oh, sure, I can see that. Maybe this one over here…

2) I was down in Ohio with my rugby team and we stopped at an ‘All You Can Eat’ pizza place. I’m always amazed by American restaurants, with their gigantic servings. The cost was $7 and people were piling their plates sky-high with pizza then coming back for more. I was with a group of teenaged rugby players, and they were in seventh heaven, as you can well imagine. But I couldn’t find any knives and forks, so I said to the woman behind the counter,” Can you tell me where the cutlery is?” She looked at me blankly for a moment, so I repeated, “I can’t find the cutlery”.

 Server (long pause): I don’t know that word.
Me: Oh, um—utensils? For eating?
Server: You mean like a fork?
Me: Yes! Exactly like a fork.
Server: Oh! They’re over there by the soda.
Me: The what? Oh, you mean the pop? Thanks!

And this wasn’t me being a dick, seriously. For example, when you call Swiss Chalet here in Ontario to order take-out, the last thing they ask you before your order is complete is “Would you like condiments and utensils?” and you’re expected to know what that sh*t is or you don’t get your chicken.

But just because I like big words, doesn’t mean I’m actually smart in other ways. The other day, I was in a meeting with a director and some other managers (all women, thank goodness), and we were talking about some catering we’d just had. The catering company served Montreal Smoked Meat sandwiches almost every day, and I referred to it as ‘ubiquitous’, at which point, someone turned to me and said, “That’s a big word.” I replied, “Sorry, I meant, like, ‘monotonous”. But then the meeting continued and it went on for a while. I’d been drinking a LOT of green tea that morning, so when we got to the last item on the agenda, I said, “Will this be a long one? I have to use the Ladies, so if the answer’s ‘Yes’, I’ll just pop out really quickly.”

The director said, “Oh, just use the one in here.” For context, we weren’t having the meeting IN a bathroom—we were in a boardroom that actually had a full bathroom with a shower in it, for some bizarre and unknown reason. We all made jokes about how no one would listen to me, but for good measure, I turned the faucet on high just to drown out any obvious noise. When I was finished, I stood up, turned around, and was at a complete loss. There was no discernable way to flush the toilet. No lever, no handle, no button, nothing. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t stay in there forever—I mean, I was in the middle of a f*cking meeting. People were LITERALLY waiting for me to come out. So finally, I opened the door and stood there.

Director: What’s wrong?
Me: I—I don’t know how to flush the toilet…
Everyone: What?!
Me: There’s no mechanism that I can see whatsoever. I don’t know how to flush it.

One of the managers jumped up and came into the bathroom with me. She looked around and pressed a switch. The lights went off. She turned the lights back on, then we both stood there looking at the toilet.

Manager: She’s right. There’s no handle.
Director (coming over): No, there has to be.

Then we all stood there staring at the toilet. Finally, the director crouched down and looked around. “I think I see something!” she said. She reached around the back of the toilet and pushed a button, at which point the damned toilet flushed, and everyone dissolved into hysterical laughter.

Director: And now we all know how to flush this toilet.
Me: Indubitably. I mean, “Yup.”

Me and My Superhero Posse

On Thursday night, my train was an hour and a half late. We finally boarded, and I was talking to Ken on the phone when I found out that not only had I been seated in a foursome, which I hate, but also that he had just bought some antique windows for me, and one of the panes was broken.

Me: Are you f*cking kidding me?
Ken: The lady was really sorry. It broke in her car. She knocked five dollars off the price.
Me: Five dollars?! What am I supposed to do with a window with a broken pane?
Ken: We can fix it.
Me: OK. Sigh. Sorry. I’m really tired and a little punchy.

At which point I said to the three women sitting in the foursome with me: “Just to clarify—I won’t actually be punching anyone.” They all smiled and one of them said, “Oh, that’s OK”, like if I DID punch someone, she would be fine with it. They seemed like nice ladies. But because we were sitting in the back foursome, we were jointly responsible for breaking the window and helping people out of the train if it derailed, according to the conductor who explained how to get the hammer out of the box mounted above the window. Then I realized that the sticker on the window by the box looked exactly like Thor’s Hammer, and I said to the woman next to me, “Do you think if you just say ‘Hammer’, it will come flying out of the box right into your hand?” because why the hell WOULDN’T anyone wonder that, but she just kind of looked at me and shrugged, so obviously she was NOT going to be in my superhero gang.

Mjolnir, come here!

But now, I was not only tired, but a little sad at the thought that I didn’t have a superhero crew like Deadpool or Tony Stark or Starlord, so I messaged my friend M from work:

I was originally going to call myself Captain Middle-Aged Woman, but the superpowers of being financially responsible and possessing comfortable walking shoes didn’t seem like skills you would need in a fight against a supervillain unless it was Millennial Girl, and also M had some awesome ideas about our outerwear:

And it was nice to know that, on a day where work had been long and stressful, and the train was really late, that I, Trainwine, have friends who wouldn’t hesitate to be part of my superhero posse. I had a name for M, but I think in retrospect, I’m calling her “The Kickboxer”, because she broke her foot a while ago playing soccer, but she still went to kickboxing (here’s her blogsite–she just started out, so give her a read: I Left My Dress In the Fridge  ). We also decided our other friend should be “Italian Thunder” because she brings the boom AND the pasta to the party. So look out supervillains—Trainwine and her posse are coming (at least if it’s before 11 pm and it’s not raining because as everyone knows, I don’t dry well).  And if you, dear reader, want me to give you your own superhero name, ask for it in the comments and I will oblige. I think that just might be my idiom. Indubitably.

My Week 189: I’ve Got The Power

I don’t know about you, but I’m frankly very sick of all this extreme weather. Two weeks ago, we had ice storms. Ice storms in April. As T.S.Eliot once famously said, “Oh my f*cking god, April—you truly are a dick.” I believe that was in his greatest work “The Wasteland”, or “Etobicoke” as it’s known today. (I tweeted this out at the time, and it didn’t get a single like, as opposed to my lame tweet about Canada being ready to defend its sacred Maple Syrup, which got over 200 likes and numerous retweets, all of which taught me one thing: that people don’t appreciate obscure literary references and I should stick to tweeting about Maple Syrup). And then of course there’s terrible flooding out East in Saint John or St. John’s— I’m not sure which one. I initially thought that it must be the height of Canadianism to name two provincial capitals practically the same thing, but then I looked it up and the capital of New Brunswick is actually Fredericton, so I guess the height of Canadianism is to NOT know all the capitals. I DO know that up until recently, Canada had 9 teams in the Canadian Football League, and two of them were called the Roughriders. One of them was the Roughriders, and the other was the Rough Riders, just so you could tell them apart. This would be like if the NFL, for some bizarre reason, named half its teams The Patriots. Can you imagine the play-by-play (which I have to do because I have never watched the CFL)?:

Commentator 1: And the Roughriders take the field.
Commentator 2: As do the Rough Riders. Go teams!
Later…
Commentator 1: And the Rough Riders have scored a touchdown!
Commentator 2: Aw—now the Roughriders are behind by 22 and a half points.

Anyway, about the weather. I came home early this week with the intention of getting some writing done. I had the remaining chapters of my new novel laid out, and I’m itching to get it finished because I sent some sample chapters to my publisher and he said they’re definitely interested in it. But then I sat down to write and realized that I had forgotten about the chapter I had started BEFORE working 16 straight days in Etobicoke, and I had no plan for it. So that meant a lot of pacing, and thinking, and sitting and staring into space while the whole thing crystallized in my mind. By Friday morning, I knew what I was doing and I sat down at the computer. I was getting close to finished when I noticed that the wind outside had REALLY started to pick up, like the trees in the yard were whipping from side to side in a rather alarming way, and things that used to be on the porch were now in the middle of the yard. Then the power started to flicker. Then it went off. I tried to call Hydro but the line was busy, as always. But then the power came back on, so I stopped panicking and finished writing. Ken came home, and we went out to see Infinity Wars at the VIP theatre with K and her girlfriend. It was pretty good, even if I hadn’t seen all the other movies and had no idea who half the people were. Luckily, K was with us, so I could ask her, even if it meant being subjected to a LOT of eyerolling:

Me: Who’s that?
K: That’s The Falcon.
Me: The what? I don’t remember him from the last Avengers movie.
K: Which one was the last one you saw?
Me: The…Avengers? Who’s the guy with the mechanical arm? I feel like I’m really out of touch here.
K: Bucky. Stop talking.
Me: Where’s Batman? I heard he dies in this movie.
K: Mom! Batman is DC, not Marvel. They’re two different universes!
Me: So no Aquaman? You know what this movie REALLY needs? The Wonder Twins.
K: Sigh.

But then the Guardians of the Galaxy showed up, and I was like, “This is so unfair! How come the raccoon and the tree are here, but I can’t have Batman?!” But apparently, the Guardians are “Marvel” too, but just from a different franchise, and I had to resign myself to drinking wine, eating my poutine, and silently wondering where the f*ck Vision and Wanda came from.

After the movie, Ken and I drove home. But as we got into town, I noticed something terrible. There were no lights on anywhere. No street lights, no house lights, nothing. And sure enough, the power was out in the entire town and surrounding areas. I checked Facebook on my phone and someone had posted that power wouldn’t be restored until the next day at 6 pm.

So I did it all by the numbers.

1) Get out all the jar candles.

I have a drawer in a desk in the living room, where I keep jar candles. I currently have 23, all in varying shapes, sizes, and states of use. Why, you ask? Because the POWER MIGHT GO OFF. I started lighting them with a lighter wand thing, which ran out of butane by number 17. I haven’t used matches since I was a teenager, and I couldn’t get them to light on the sandpaper strip on the box, so I just stuck them in the open flames of the other candles. I am nothing if not resourceful. Candles lit. Check.

2) Find all 8 flashlights and realize that none of them work. Look for batteries. Try to install the batteries into the flashlights by the light of a “White Linen and Vanilla” jar candle. Remind Ken that “the pioneers might have been way better at living rough than me, but I bet their houses didn’t smell as good”.

3) Also remind Ken that under no circumstances should he open the fridge in order to keep the food from spoiling. Open the fridge myself to get out a bottle of wine.

4) Lie in bed in the dark, drinking wine and plotting my revenge against nature by candlelight. Eventually blow out all the candles so that I don’t set the house on fire.

Day Two

In the morning, we checked again. Now Hydro was saying the power wouldn’t be back on until Sunday at 6 pm.

5) Have a minor meltdown, and order Ken to take me out to buy a barbeque so that we could cook dinner (our previous bbq had broken during the winter when I rather vigorously threw open the lid and it snapped off). I also bought one of those big camping lanterns. The only instructions for its use involved three pictures that were all upside down. After ten minutes, I lost my sh*t and called for Ken. He looked at it, then pushed the button and it came on. “You have to press harder,” he said.

“Yeah, well, just wait until you have to put together the barbeque!” I responded. Which he did. In under the time suggested in the instruction manual.

6) Call my mom and complain about the lack of electricity.

7) Call my aunt and complain about the lack of electricity.

8) Post on Facebook complaining about the lack of electricity.

9) Realize my phone battery is almost dead.

10) Remember that our neighbour has a generator. Message her to ask if I can use it to charge my phone. She says yes.

11) Take my phone and a bottle of wine across the street. Spend a couple of very pleasant hours with my neighbour, talking and drinking while my phone charges.

12) Go home and light all 23 jar candles again. Lie in bed, drinking wine and plotting revenge against Ontario Hydro, who will rue the day they ruined my plan to kick back and watch Netflix so that I could get caught up on The Avengers movies. Enjoy the aroma of “Lavender Sky” mingled with “Christmas Berry”. Read the fifth book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series and get seriously pissed off at being over halfway through and still not knowing who the f*cking Wolves of Calla are.

13) Blow out all the jar candles and go to sleep. Wake up sometime in the night and realize that the hall light is on. Wake Ken up to tell him, but he already knows and has been watching Netflix without me. I forgive him, silently rejoice, and congratulate myself on being hardy like a pioneer. Make plans to buy my own generator. Just in case.

My Week 54: Back on the Train Gang, Conversations

Friday: Back on the train gang

Recently, I started taking the train to Toronto on Sundays and back home on Fridays. This has saved me an intense amount of stress from trying to figure out how to beat a rush hour that starts at noon. The trouble with the 401 is that it’s a great highway when no one else is on it. I can make it door to door in less than an hour and a half if the roads are clear. But that NEVER happens. There’s always a slowdown, for a variety of incomprehensible reasons. Here is my list of top ten favourite circumstances which might cause traffic on the 401 to come to a complete halt:

10) It’s raining.
9) It’s windy.
8) Is that a running shoe? Slow down!!
7) Look, an airplane. Coooool.
6) There’s an accident on the OTHER side of the road.
5) What a weird-looking bird…
4) That guy is changing his tire. What do we do?
3) Are those cloud shadows on the road, or is the beginning of the alien invasion?
2) A bus is on fire.
1) (And this is absolutely true). Radio announcer: Be careful out there today, folks. That sun is really shining brightly!

While a couple of these are legitimate—like a burning bus, or slowing down to avoid hitting someone at the side of the road, the rest are stupid. If people would just drive like normal humans instead of trying to break the landspeed record, none of the other things on the list would a) come as a shock and b) force traffic to a standstill. So, yes, I started taking the train, which is a much more civilized and safer way to travel, albeit not without its own quirks. For example, VIA has a policy that you have to present your boarding pass BEFORE you board at some stations, but not others. At Union Station, you have to have it scanned before you can get on the train. At unstaffed stations, like the one I arrive at, you can get on the train and a conductor will scan it at some point during the trip. If you take a chance and sneak onto the train without paying, there’s a pretty hefty fine. It never occurred to me that anyone would actually TRY this, but on Friday, here’s what happened: I was standing in line, getting ready to board. I’d been standing there for a while, and contemplating the nonsensical nature of me and all the other hundred people standing there, because we all have assigned seating, yet as soon as one person lines up, the rest of us panic and follow like sheep. And then we stand there for half an hour. Waiting. And talking about why we’re standing in line. I said to the woman behind me, “Why are we lined up?” and she said, “I don’t know. I just saw everyone else doing it, and figured I should too.” Anyway, I was standing there like the follower that I apparently am, lacking in free will and all that sh*t, when I noticed a man out of the corner of my eye. I was close to one of the columns that holds up the roof, and pretty close to the front of the line, and he had sauntered over very casually and was now standing against the column with his wheelie bag, looking all innocent. But I knew what he was up to. “Bastard!” I thought to myself. “He’s going to try and cut in. I haven’t been waiting here for almost 40 minutes so this guy can jump the queue. At least not in FRONT of me. I don’t care if he cuts in behind me. Someone else can deal with that.” So, you see, I was equally enraged AND mercenary. Then, the line started to move, and sure enough, the odious little jerk slid in right behind me. Everyone noticed, but we were all too polite, being Canadian and everything, to tell him off. But as we were getting close to the escalator and the conductor, he kept trying to pass me. So I did what any red-blooded Canadian would do—I swung MY wheelie bag out wide to slow him down, forcing him to stay behind me. But this is where things got interesting and supremely karmic. I showed my boarding pass, and got on the escalator with him hot on my heels. Then I heard a voice—“Sir! Sir! I need to scan your boarding pass!” I turned, and a conductor was climbing up the escalator towards us. The man announced, “You did already,” but the conductor was adamant. “No, I didn’t. Let me see it now, please.” At this point, the butt-er reluctantly held out a very crumpled boarding pass. “Sir,” the conductor said with a hint of anger in his voice, “you don’t have a ticket for this train. You’ll have to come with me.” The man protested, but had no choice. As he scurried back down the escalator, I shook my fist in triumph, and actually said out loud, “HAHA! I knew it!!”, much to the delight of the couple ahead of me, who had also noticed that he was up to something. We all smiled knowingly at each other with the smugness of those who had legitimately purchased tickets.

Then there are the “regulars”. Seriously, it’s like Cheers, when Norm walks into the bar. “Hey, Norm”, everyone yells, and all the non-regulars are confused, and a little jealous that they aren’t part of the gang. The first time I took the train, this happened to me. I was sitting near a group of the regulars, and it was like homecoming weekend. The conductor was supremely pleased to see them, and they were all laughing and high-fiving and sh*t. Then she asked if there was anyone who was unfamiliar with train safety procedures, because I guess it’s a requirement of the job, and they were all like “Haha, safety requirements! Right, Ellen!! HAHA.” But you know me, and my need to figure out the worst case scenario, so I was like, “Excuse me. I am unfamiliar with the safety procedures and I would like to hear more about it.” So she started telling me about what to do in case of an emergency, but the gang kept interrupting her, and she would giggle and be like “Oh, you guys!” until finally I said very sternly, “I’d actually appreciate being able to hear what you have to say.” At which point, she realized that maybe she needed to stop being flirty and do her job. So she explained to me that in case of an emergency, there was a little green hammer located next to the rear window, and that I would have to hit one corner of the window with the hammer, then hit another corner to get it to break out of the frame, then use a cushion from one of the seats to push the glass out. How is this even a PLAN, VIA Rail? The train derails, and I’m tossing bodies out of the way, looking for a seat cushion to push out the window with? The window I broke with a LITTLE GREEN HAMMER?! I have the exact same plan at home in case of fire, but it doesn’t involve pillows as much as me shattering things like The Hulk using a much bigger Thor-like hammer (there’s your random Avengers reference for the week), and not caring so much about glass cuts than SAVING MY FAMILY.  Then she was like, “Don’t worry—it’ll never happen. It’s just a precaution.” Oh really, conductor lady?! It’s called a ‘worst case scenario’ for a reason. From now on, I’m bringing my own damn hammer.

But you meet all kinds on the train. There’s the girl who walks down the aisle on her cell phone, loudly alerting all of us to her weekend party plans and spends the next hour calling friend after friend to let them know she’s “on the train but can’t wait to get smashed at Kyle’s house later”, the drunk Blue Jays fans who yell out the names of all the stops, the business men and women whose companies are too cheap to spring for anything more than “economy class”…. Me, I don’t care where I sit, as long as it’s quiet, I can have a glass of wine (hell yeah—they serve wine on the train, which is why I referred to it earlier as a civilized way to travel), read my book, and think my thoughts. This, however, did NOT happen on Friday. I was seated behind a woman and her 6 year-old daughter, who was quite possibly the most obnoxious child I’ve come across. Mainly because the mother seemed to have no idea that children can actually be taught, through patient care and a lot of work, to NOT be f*cking obnoxious. Don’t get me wrong—I LOVE kids, I really do. I have a charming and well-behaved one of my own, and I’ve been successfully working with kids of all ages for over 30 years, so I have a pretty good idea of how to deal with them. The first sign of trouble came about 20 seconds into boarding, when “Cathy” began yelling, “SING SING LALA SING LALALA” over and over again. And to clarify—she wasn’t actually singing—she was yelling the words Sing and LaLa. Finally, the mother admonished her with “Shhhhhh.” “NO!!” came the reply, with a continuation of the racket, until Mom distracted her with the menu. Things went downhill from there. “I want THIS and THIS and THIS!”

Mom: You can only have one thing. You have to choose.
Cathy: NO!! I WANT EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING!
Mom: You can’t have everything. Only one. Which one do you want?
Cathy: I WANT EVERYTHING. I’m going to kick this seat until you get me EVERYTHING! (kick kick kick kick)
Conductor: Can I get you anything?
Mom: Yes, I’ll take this and this and this….

Good work, lady.

Halfway through the trip, I finally had to put my headphones on and drown out Cathy with loud music after this particular conversation:

Cathy: What does ‘technically’ mean? Mommy, what does ‘technically’ mean? MOMMY! Don’t you know? Are you stupid? Mommy, what does ‘technically’ mean? MOMMY!!

You know, I get that people are tired, and it’s really easy to let kids get away with a little cheekiness at the end of a long day, but kicking seats and calling names are a certain sign that little Cathy is going to have BIG trouble if she thinks the rest of the world is going to treat her like Mommy does. She’ll be the one trying to cut into a line, and she’ll be shocked when people like me won’t let her. That’s karma, Cathy.

But I have met some really great people on the train. There’s the kid who’s in Pre-Law at U of T, but who would give it all up to be a rock star with his band–he was visiting his girlfriend at Western and had never taken the train before so we helped each other figure out where the subway was in relation to the train station…The girl who finished a Security course and did a practicum at a northern men’s penitentiary, which taught her that she really didn’t want to be a prison guard and was now working with a pharmaceutical company…The Kinesiology student whose 8 year-old sister lives with her and goes to school in Toronto all week, then goes to London on the weekends to stay with “relatives”–she’s 18 years old but pretty much a surrogate mother, and a very good one at that, judging by the way she cares for little Hailey…The man who’s an accountant by day, but races short track with his classic car on the weekends down in Windsor in a full firesuit and helmet–his brother is his pit crew…the list goes on, and for every annoying Cathy, there are three different people with fascinating stories and lives that you can glimpse into for a brief moment, and realize that the world can be a pretty decent place if you let it. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Best elevator conversation of the week:

Guy in Elevator: Has anyone ever told you that you look like a young Carol Burnett?
Me: Uh, thanks—it must be the haircut.
Guy: Kids today have no appreciation for Carol Burnett. The other night I was at a bar and I was being hit on by someone a LOT younger than me. So I said to him, “Sorry, honey—I’m Carol Burnett and you’re Lady Gaga. It will NEVER work.”

Worst elevator conversation of the week:

Guy in Elevator: Ungghh—I could sure use a big cup of coffee!
Me: Um…ok.
Guy: Wow! Look at all your rings! I really like the big one you have on!!
Me: I got that one in Spain—oh look, here’s my floor. Bye.

Best conversations with street people this week:

Me: I’m going into Loblaws. Can I get you anything?
Homeless Guy: Can I get some smoked oysters?
Me: Uh….ok…
Homeless Guy: And a Coke? Thanks.

Me: I’m going into Loblaws. Can I get you anything? Maybe some juice?
Dan: Oh…could I have a jar of Cheez Whiz? I love Cheez Whiz but I can never afford to buy it.
Me: Sure thing.
Dan: Thanks, dear.