Monday, September 18, 2006

FWG's not-so-excellent all-night adventure

1:00 AM

Spent the evening with an illicit sweetheart. Lingered longer than I should have and just made it home to discover the back door locked. Steve-o knows I’m temporarily without keys but my Jets won today while his Bills did not. I presume this is what motivates him to lock me out and to ignore my repeated calls to both the home phone and his cell. I continue to leave messages on both voice mails until I run out of quarters.


2:00 AM

I’m sitting at a table in Tim Hortons - one of those one-size-fits-all tables where the chairs have no legs. Just a big arm that stretches out from under the seat, runs toward the wall, arcs ninety degrees and attaches to the single table leg that is cemented to the floor. I’m not sure why I feel inclined to describe these stupid chairs to you. Sincere apologies if you didn’t get anything out of that.

Hang on. Bear with me a moment longer:

Every table-and-chairs combination is a single integrated unit - and every section of wall in this place - both interior and exterior - fits a tidy even number of these dining units perfectly. No fractions. No wasted space. This entire dining area - a shared Tim Hortons/Wendy’s affair is geometrically perfect. Ruthlessly efficient.

No customer’s chair will ever interact with another’s. No Canadian of European stock will ever have to offer an apologetic word to any Cantonese Canadian here. No Canadian Hindu will ever have to offer a forgiving smile to any native Canadian. Not here.

No manager or franchisee will ever have to consider rearranging tables to accommodate a rise or fall in business volume - or to clear space for any jukebox or gumball machine or any community bulletin board. He has no such worries. The corporate bulldozer takes care of all that. When market conditions finally migrate beyond the approved parameters they’ll just raze the joint and start all over. Here or elsewhere.

There are shiny metal napkin dispensers - one at every dining unit and each is placed and oriented the same way with the napkins exiting north and south. Military precision.

I’m the only patron in the place right now but I half expect a horde of Borg to arrive any moment now. One hundred and twenty eight of them or however many will exactly fill the place. We’ll all sit here with our tubes and whirly-gigs protruding from our heads and consume our toasted chicken combos or our soylent green combos while resting on our table-and-chair combos. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

So why does it persist - this feeling that Tim Hortons is the perfect microcosm of all that is hideously and grotesquely wrong with our society?

Okay, so what am I doing here?

It’s the first place I came upon that had a bathroom and that was open for business. Actually - no. It’s the third place I came upon but the first two places were also Tim Hortonzes. It took that long before choosing my bladder over my principals. For the record - my TH boycott lasted 78 days. I shall promptly begin another and pray this one is permanent!

I confess I broke down and bought a coffee and donut. Well, it’s more of a donette. A bit smallish. Rather tasty, I must concede, but smallish.

3:00 AM

I have a headache.

I’m on the road again looking for a place that sells Advil. I’m wandering rather aimlessly along these empty roads - lining up a left-hand turn for instance, before spotting a median in the way and making the world’s widest right-hand turn instead. This is how you drive when you’re not really sure where you’re going and you’re in no hurry to get there. When you’re just wasting time until the sun comes up and your roommate wakes up and unlocks the door and steps out heading for work until you jump out from the bushes and kill him.

There’s a police cruiser behind me. He’s definitely following me, believing me drunk and I don’t blame him. But suddenly he pulls away, makes a U-ey and peals away. Suddenly had bigger fish to fry, I guess. Probably an eleven-oh-four or a ten-fifty.

I have no keys, by the way, because a co-worker and I went out for lunch on Friday. She drove. As I was packing my brief case around six, about to leave the office, the phone rang and it was my lunch mate.

“I just got home and discovered your keys are sitting here in my car! You’re not gonna make me come all the way back from Burlington are you!”

I searched my trouser pocket. The spare truck key was there as it should be. I have a terrible habit of locking keys in the car - hence the spare-in-pocket habit.

“Sokay,” I said. “I’ll be alright until Monday.”

“Oh, great! But here - I’ll give you my cell number just in case there’s any problem - but no after-hours calls!”

The quest for Advil takes me to the 7-11 store. This is my second 7-11 stop tonight. The first followed the clandestine rendezvous. Having eaten only twice all weekend (a late fish-and-chip lunch on Saturday and on Sunday - a pair of scrumptious salami sandwiches on sesame-seed bagels) I was fair emaciated upon entry and crushed to learn that they were fresh out of the delightful slimy burritos that I’m so fond of.

So now - despite the four taquitos I had instead and the two donuts since - I’m all ready to jump all over the first burrito I find here. That’s right. Just like the TH boycott going south tonight, so goes the de-tubberization project. Well, actually that one hasn’t yet began. The first step was to find the bathroom scale among the yet-unpacked but it was never found. Missing in action. I gotta buy a new one.

But first - this outlet is also a gas station and 84-something is a nice price and I’m running low so of course I pull up and fill up. The I go to climb back in the truck but - oh. The door is locked. I reach for the pocketed spare. No dice. The spare has been promoted from second string to starter (no pun intended) and is comfortably sitting in the ignition.




My second major key bamboozlement in three days. Lovely.

The 7-11 clerk is very helpful and lends me their phone and the yellow pages. The book is chock-full of locksmiths promising lightening fast 24-hour emergency lock-out service. I try Apex Locksmiths featuring Fernando Lopez, master locksmith of thirty years. I get his voice mail.

“Oh, hi,” I say. “Yes. I just wanted to thank you for the fast 24-hour emergency service. That was great.” Click.

E.E.S. promises 24-7 radio dispatch service. Voice mail again.

“Um, hi. I see your ad promises 24-hour emergency service. I guess this hour isn’t one of the 24 you had in mind. Thanks anyway.”

ASAP (All Service Accredited Professionals Inc) doesn’t even have voice mail. I just get a generic message telling me to try this customer later. I don’t even get the chance to leave a message warning them that the yellow pages people spelled ASAPI wrong.

S&S Lock Service. Voice mail.

“Yeah, hi there. I notice your ad says fast 24-hour emergency service. Hmm. I guess you don’t have any fast 24-hour emergency telephone operators. Oh well.”

Adept Locksmiths. Voice mail. I’m fresh out of cynicism. I just hang up and take a few more bites of delicious burrito.

“Dude, try the towing companies instead,” says the clerk.

“Okay dude. I’ll give it a try.” Lo and behold, they too promise 24-hour rescue service. I give Seven District Towing a ringy dingy. A very snappy female voice comes on the line.

‘This customer is not available!! Try your call again later!!’

Okay - I’ll cut to the chase. Lyons Auto Body came through for me. Bless their dear little black souls.

5:00 AM

The tow truck arrives. A young fellow in yellow fleece jacket and black toque emerges. I’m envious of him. I’m in shorts and thin summer shirt. I’m shivering.

“What happened to summer?” I moan.

“I dunno, man. Look at me! I’m in my toque!” He brandishes a black wedge kind of thing and a very long red pole with various hooks and bendy parts.

“Yeah. I just assumed you were a rapper,” I say. “Cause a lot of rappers work towing jobs between gigs I hear.”

“Is that right? I hadn’t heard that.” He speaks pleasantly enough. He seems to know I’m only joking. Though - he probably doesn’t get the joke and probably shouldn't. Do rappers wear toques or is that just my own hare-brained perception?

He’s got the door wedged open a crack despite it being locked - just enough to squeeze the hooky-hooky-dad through.

“What happens if I pull on the door handle inside?” he asks.

‘A little monkey jumps out and bites your pee-pee,’ I consider replying but decline.

“Will it make the lock pop?”

I have to think about that. I haven’t had the banana boat all that long. The answer doesn’t come immediately to mind.

“I dunno,” I say. “It’s not my car.”

“It’s not? Who’s is it?”

“Beats me. I just found it here.”

He stops his fiddling and looks at me. “You’re kidding, right.”

“Yeah. I’m kidding.”

He doesn’t laugh. Oh well. Can’t win ‘em all. He manages to pull the handle. The door springs open in response to the pressure from the wedge. I cough up $65.00 and I’m on my way again.

To be continued… if you can bear it…


Dave said...

good god! your key mismanagement fills me with anxiety. maybe you should invest in one of those belt clips with the retractable cord so they are always with you.

Fantasy Writer Guy said...

You must be kidding. I'd lose an eye the first time I tried to climb out of the truck without first removing the key.


Dave said...

nobody said the training would be easy...but you'd'd learn.

Elli said...

Hey! Where's the rest of the story... I'd be PO'd if I'd read this back on Monday!! ;)