Wednesday, September 29, 2010


There are times when I marvel at how some people on this spinning blue sphere are able to sleep at night. Pedophiles, rapists and televangelists are the usual groups that come to mind as falling into that category of should-be insomniacs, but after an unfortunate incident this morning, another group of people come to mind: petty, private police.

I was running about 10 minutes late for work this morning. This summer, I've walked every morning, since, from front-step to building lobby, it's about 20 to 25 minutes depending on the jump in my step, the heat and humidity or whether my stomach persuades me to grab a bagel and coffee along the way. As I wasn't going to arrive on time by walking today, I decided to take the Metro. I've used the train maybe a dozen times this summer on such occasions. I opted not to buy monthly Metro passes in May, June, July, August and September to save the $70 per month and because I didn't think it was necessary, considering that my walk to work in Montreal is actually shorter than it was in Yellowknife, by some nautical miracle.

Today, when I arrived in my tiffy at the underground ticket booth, I found no surly, French-Canadian old-timer to greet me with his/her practiced annoyance. I'm talking both sides of the booth. And it wasn't like the STM worker was standing around talking to a bus driver and pretending to ignore you like normal or that they were unwrapping their sandwich, oblivious to the line-up of people awaiting them. There was no one in there. Torrents of people were pouring out from the turnstiles, as the 9:15 am train had just arrived and dumped off loads of eager students to the Universite de Quebec a Montreal campus at Berri-UQAM. Past this stream of people, I saw a small logjam at the automated ticket machine and so I did what any rational person would do when running late and confronted with my situation: I jumped the gate.

Bad idea.

Immediately, some gigantic bald black dude, who must have been a Montreal Alouette, undercover in a blue dress shirt, grabs me by the arm and tells me I have to stop.


He talks into his radio and within seconds, there are two doofus STM transit officers on the scene, dressed all in black, with big puffy vests like they are expecting to be called into SWAT duty, who start giving me sass about not paying.

I've been in Montreal for a year minus three days and I have jumped the turnstiles TWICE! Two times! I told that to the doofuses, but they didn't care. I offered to pay them the three bucks I had in my hand (the ticket is worth $2.75) and they shook their heads and started giving me guff and prodded me for my I.D. No warning. Nothing. Ticket. I told them I was running late and that they had to be kidding. Really though, what was I to do?

I swear, it was entrapment. They'd rigged up this little set-up to nab folks like me. After about five minutes of standing and waiting, I saw an old, white-haired lady waddle back into her booth. The sting operation had proved successful. They'd caught me and an old Chinese guy who was pretending he didn't speak any French or English. I nodded at him in a show of respect.

The bigger, and predictably shorter, douchebag of the two STM numb-nuts, M. Chindaire (from what I can make out on my ticket) took my I.D. and then took 20 minutes away from me in order to write out my ticket. He took his time since he knew I was late for work. Unfortunately for him, he still fucked my name up, writing Willian as my middle name instead of William. I still may fight this thing.

Back to those transit officers: I really, truly don't know how they sleep at night. I mean, I'm not going to say that I'm changing the world with what I do at work, but at least I'm not consciously fucking peoples' days up and actually deriving pleasure from doing it. This M. Chindaire was delighting in my misfortune. I couldn't comprehend why. (A friend and I called him Const. Shortman Sydrome and Corp. Mywifes Acunt at work later for comedy's sake. I said he couldn't have a wife because no one could love him. Even his tapeworm had left him.)

But the people who work these jobs must either know that they aren't quite full-blown authority figures and repress it and power-trip, or they must be content by the misery they inflict over the course of their lifetimes. And why are these people always shorter than average? Can we get some sociologists to look into this, please?

Finally, Chindaire handed the ticket back to me and told me my options. There was no way I was paying the $2.75 in front of them (especially since a minute part of that might finance their miserable livelihoods) so I walked to work under a cloud of frustration.

All told, my walk to work cost me $214 today. Maybe Chindaire could have let me off with a warning, but he was obviously too cranky because he couldn't sleep with himself the night before.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Almost a month. Yowsers.

How do I reintroduce myself after such a prolonged absence?

I don't really have anyone to blame for the hiatus. Sure I've been working and it feels as if I've had a different guest every weekend and there has been a lot going on, but that shouldn't excuse me from scribbling nonsense onto this digital tableau every once in a while.

(Speaking of tableaus, or 21st-Century tableaus, don't you think we are going to look back at iPads in five or six years and just laugh. We'll kind of look around and ask what the hell we were thinking? Don't they seem bulky and sort of silly, like they are some uncreative compromise between a Macbook and an iPhone? Have you looked at a first generation iPod lately? They seem bulky and excessive and you almost tend to want to look at it with condescension. I feel that we'll all feel the same way about the iPad very soon, when there is some fourth-generation version of it that actually makes sense. The iPad kind of reminds me of the Segway.)

Anyways, I suppose the main reason I didn't feel like writing much was that I didn't feel very funny or at least that I'd be able to write anything funny. Any idea I came up with wound up circling back to some deep sense of nothingness. I think I battled away nihilism this summer. I'd honestly get up in my 40 C room panting and all-sweated-out and wonder if the impending day would be any different from the day that preceded it and then I'd wonder if it even mattered.

See, pretty dark stuff.

Not that I was depressed or anything, but the summer was just odd. I don't think I'm used to such heat and to a summer season that lasts more than a month and a half. In Yellowknife, you are conditioned to go out and take FULL advantage of every semi-decent day. In Montreal, you don't really have to because there is a steady stream of days that seem to go on for like four or five months. Yet there I was, rushing out to soak up every sun beam and I think I burnt myself out a little bit.

And I'm convinced my head shrunk this summer. I've got a full set of hair, which is probably the longest it's been in years, yet the hat I've been wearing for the past year can't seem to stay on my head. I wore it on gusty cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Iceland and during winter days on rooftops at work in Quebec City, but when I run across a street, my cap threatens to leap off my head. I think this fact bolsters my claim that my brain evaporated at some point this summer.

(By the way, I think government officials from the defense department should start studying the chemical properties at work on my ball cap. It does not get wet. Rain beads right off it. I'm not sure if it's a year's worth of living and hair grease and dive bars and snowstorms, but it's the most impermeable object I've witnessed.)

I'm doing well, but as I've previously mentioned, I think I need a change. It's not so much a change of scenery or career or anything, but I think it's mainly a change in philosophy.

It's funny how something small, said to you very innocently, can knock you on your ass and make you examine your life and the way you are living it.

Last week, I was having lunch with a couple buddies from work and the conversation turned to poop, like it seems to do at least once every noon-hour (I should say, 2-hour.) We were all talking strategies and making jokes until someone said that I take the stinkiest deuces in the office. I laughed, thinking this guy was just breaking my balls, until two of the other guys I was eating with piped in and agreed in all seriousness. I was shocked and after lunch I kind of became paranoid about my celebrity.

All of the famous stinky dump-takers I've known throughout my life - friends' dads, severely obese dudes at different job sites or tiny, junk-food fiend kids - had one common characteristic: they were all very unhealthy. At my computer desk, surrounded by cups of coffee and empty Pepsi cans, I resolved to eat better and live healthier.

Two days later I was using a friend's 2 for 1 Big Mac coupon at lunch. I tried.

Fun fact: A friend tells me when you are living healthy and eating well, a crap should require very little - to no - wipage. I think I've covered this on the blog before.

But no, I think with winter on the way, there will be less distractions and I'll be able to focus a little more on writing. Really, since my friend Eli quit work in August, I haven't written down a single idea. We used to exchange stories or rants each Friday. She was much better at doing that than I, but at least it forced me to write.

For now, on this here thingamabobber, I might just write self-obsessive tomfoolery to rid the detritus clogging up my neuro-pathways until a nugget of a concept can shimmy its way through to the surface of my consciousness. Seems kind of narcissistic, but hey, what's a blog for then?

And I'm really feeling energetic at the moment, listening to the new Deerhunter album, Halcyon Digest. The thought of picking up the album actually got me through the afternoon and I walked through a rainstorm to get it. It was the first real album I've bought in a long while.

I asked my big boss at work where the nearest metro was to the HMV on St. Catherines. She said Peel. I'm pretty sure I knew this, but I was so zonked from ceaseless callbacks at work that I couldn't think for myself. I got off the metro and got to street level and walked down to St. Catherines. I looked right and didn't see the store, but I walked on even though the sky had opened up and I got absolutely soaked and I kept walking and still I saw nothing. Shouldn't it be close? I cursed my boss under my breath. Why didn't I look where it was myself? Another set of lights and nothing. I kept going and no HMV. I walked like 12 blocks all the way to Atwater, pushing ahead irrationally until I stopped and snapped out of it. It couldn't be that far. I turned back. The rain had stopped. (Some homeless guy asked me for "change for a coffee." Who needs a coffee at 6 p.m.? I wanted to ask him)

I walked back to where I'd gotten on to St. Catherines and continued back East and there was the store, a block away.

I got home and made some pesto shrimp spaghetti and lima beans and tossed on the album and the soaker was worth it.