Flying with Cats

This will be about my cat, Jango.

When I decided to leave Toronto for the Dominican Republic, it seemed to happen so fast, I couldn’t believe it. I had come in to a bit of money when my father passed, Thank You Dad!, and had briefly thought about buying a property to rent out.in the DR.  But as I sat at my kitchen table watching the snow hurl itself sideways past my window, I thought, do I really want to  rent my apartment out to some drunken Americans or French Canadians so they can trash the place, break the dishes and piss in my bed? No. If anyone gets to do that, it should be me.

I had been emailing with a friend of mine who lives here about it all and he suggested that I come down and check it out. The problem with that was, A: I have a cat and B: I hate to fly. It seemed like less bother to just pack up and move here.  So that’s what we did. But the problem was the cat.

It never really crossed my mind to leave him. A friend did offer to take him and he would have been fine in their care, but what about me? The next day I’d see pictures of him on her Facebook being all cute and fluffy like he does and then I’d snap and shoot up a Tiki Hut full of drunken Americans. Or French Canadians. Of course I’m taking him.

I did all the shots and dealt with the airline  but the day my stuff left my apartment for a slow boat to the Dominican Republic, I found out that the rabies shot had to be in the cat at least a month. He’d had it a week. It was the first and I believe only time I truly freaked out about it all.  I called a friend and started to cry, thinking I’d have to camp on his couch but he is The Voice Of reason and as soon as he asked what I needed, it was all fine.

I decided on a crappy hotel in Parkdale, right across the street from where I used to live. I’ll be honest, it was hard. It was hard on both of us.But we made the best of it. I got to visit all my favourite pubs and restaurants and Spring in Toronto is spectacular. Lilacs, tulips, crackheads pissing in the streetcar shelter. Ah.

I had so much anxiety over the whole thing with the cat. A few years before I moved here I had thought very hard about moving to halifax and the only thing that stopped me was, how do i get the cat there? If I do move back to Canada, it would be to the East Coast. There had been a lot of paperwork to accompany him with me, I had gotten the forms all signed once, $60 in a cab, thai you very much just to have to have them re-done as they are time sensitive. The second set were signed after a hairy car ride with my friend ( see post about swearing into the elevator) who managed to get us there at closing time.

The day finally arrived. We had been hole up in a small dingy room, eating take out (Even all my favourites got boring) and all the worry I had had was finally here. In the three weeks of hotel living I had worn the same t-shirt and same woollen socks everyday, inside the room so I could put them in his carry case for the plane.  At least his case would smell like home. He had to go in the baggage area and I was shitting bricks.

I had hired a Town car to get us to the airport, same price as a cab and much nicer. I had to put my luggage on the sidewalk, along with my Baby Jango. I got a trolley cart, loaded it all up and managed to find the check-in line. Keeping in mind I was stressed beyond belief. I got in line, grabbed some baggage labels and within a few seconds the woman in front of me turned around, glared at me, looked at mango in the travel case and then sniffed, like I’d just shit myself. But she was looking at the cat. Not on my watch, Cunt.

I said, way too loudly,’ He doesn’t smell, you can’t smell a thing. Just turn around and mind your own, Bitch’.  I immediately assumed I’d be sitting next to her on the plane. Once through, I had to get his travel case inspected. I had to take him out and let them run the case through an x-ray. Now, I ask you. If I’m going to go to all this bother of bring the cat with me, am I just going to toss a bunch of knives and hand grenades? No. No I’m not.

Got through that, then I had about ten minutes with him until someone came to collect him on a little tractor-type of vehicle. I found my seat on the plane and was able to watch him below my window going up the ramp to the storage. The flight was fine, beautiful scenery and he was the only animal in the animal area so that was fine.

We landed, I gathered my baggage and had to wait quite a long time for him. I finally saw someone banging on a window, pointing at the large double doors. A very official looking man came up to me, motioned for me to follow and we were finally reunited. They brought him in and as soon as he heard my voice he sat up and started meowing. I’m sure out of relief more than anything. If you are going to build up a trust with an animal, Keep It.

Next was to a small office where a lovely old gentleman wanted the paperwork and then he proceeded to sit at an old electric typewriter, in ’70’s yellow, crank the dial on the side to get the paper in and then hunt and peck his way through the form. Seriously, this thing out-weighed him by at least three pounds.

It all worked out.  He just walked past me on his way to his litter box, stopped and gave me a look that said, ‘It better be clean’.  It was. Jag-Jag

 

If you are travelling with your pet, be kind.

 

 

Our Daily Grind: Two

When I was regularly performing Stand Up Comedy and auditioning for things I didn’t have a hope-in-hell of ever getting, I worked in the service industry. Pubs were far better than restaurants, but both have their advantages and disadvantages.

For several years I worked in a little neighbourhood diner, it was very quaint and had been there since dinosaurs were strutting about. It was family owned and that, too can have its ups and downs. But more on that subject later.

In a pub people are usually there to relax, have a beer and a bite to eat, socialise. In the diner I worked breakfast and lunch everyday. It could be quite stressful and busy. People are often a nightmare when it comes to their food. Plus, they are always in a hurry.

There was a woman who came in, not very regularly but now and then, I think meeting up with an elderly relative in the neighbourhood. Ever single time she came in, when you went to the table she would launch in to a long graphic story about how she was deadly allergic to fish, all the while showing you her Medical Alert bracelet. Now, of course she needs to tell us that, but every time she did, she always looked absolutely furious! I mean, every time. Show the bracelet, scowl, even if fish touches it, I could DIE!  DIE ! *SCOWL*

The first time I waited on her, she ordered something that had fries and I told her that the fish was deep-fried in the same oil. “Oh, that’s okay”. So, not really deathly allergic then. Maybe just a rash? Couple of canker sores? Face swells up? Seriously, she was always such a misery I was half tempted to slip a bit of tuna in her grilled cheese just to see if she would blow up or drop on the floor convulsing . I didn’t.

Anyhow, one day she was there in my section and as I approached the table , her face twisted in anger, like maybe I was responsible for her allergy, she started to pull up her sleeve and put her wrist up in my face  to show me her Medical Alert bracelet. I put my hand up to stop her, put my foot on the bench beside her and pulled up my pant leg to show her a large tattoo on my leg.

Show me your bracelet again, I’ll show you the one on me arse.

No-fish

Priorities

A few months after my father’s routine cataract surgery he had to drive from his small town in central Alberta to Calgary for a check up. When I called him later to ask about it he told me that they had found a dark mass behind one of his eyes and he would have to go see a specialist. An appointment was made and from that moment on I was worried to the bone.

The day of the appointment with the specialist came and he was driven in by his nephew. I called him in the evening to ask how everything had been.

“I have bad news”, he said.

I could barely breathe, oh my gawd, it’s cancer, it’s horrible he’s going to die! So much runs through your head and ice water runs through your veins.

“What is it, Dad? Please just tell me”

“He took my driver’s licence away!”

The relief I felt was measurable. I was so scared and for a moment I waited thinking there was more. But, no. I tried not to laugh because obviously this was important to him but I couldn’t help it. I suggested that the doctor may have been right, just for now, if he needs surgery that maybe at 82 he didn’t need to be driving everywhere.

My Dad replied, “He’s a Bastard!”

Priorities. pending

 

 

 

Do you know what kills me about death? 

A few months ago a friend of the Comic Community died. Her friends set up a memorial page on Facebook to inform people about the arrangements and allow people to comment. Almost the first response was a comment from a woman, “I’d love to be there but I’m in L.A.”

Now, I ask you. Why the fuck do we need to know that? The short answer is that we don’t. The only need there is for this person to use a memorial page to brag. I think it’s called a ‘Tragi-Brag’. It’s taking someone else’s tragedy and putting yourself in it, for sympathy and attention otherwise reserved for the people  it’s intended. It’s horrid and extremely prolific.

I have a friend who can not tell you about a disaster on any level without ingratiating himself right smack dab in the middle. He starts off with the ‘did you hear’ and the longer the story goes and the bigger his involvement, the worse the ending will be. We actually fell out for a long time when he tried to tell me about someone who had committed suicide. I knew the person really well, he didn’t. I really liked this person, he didn’t.

It’s worse when it’s a celebrity. Let’s face it, there were a lot in a short period of time at the beginning of this year. People are still posting things about their connection to David Bowie. I’m not staying it’s not sad. I was devastated when I heard and yes, I posted a picture of an old Bowie record and a small blurb about it. It’s human nature and I’m guilty as well,  wanting  to be a part of a big event that affects so many. But it ceases to be about the small simple fact that someone has died and all about how people can steal a bit of the fanfare around it.

It’s worse with social media. It always amazes me how someone or other touched someone’s life and influenced all their decisions after they die. Let’s talk about it now. Call out to your favourite teacher or rock star or babysitter or comedian. The beauty of social media is that you can actually do it. Reach out.

 

Let’s all Rest In Peace.

 

 

 

Can You See Me Now?

A few years back, when I was nearing the milestone of age Forty, I decided that the service industry just wasn’t cute any more. Plus, people are hateful, soul-sucking vermin who think the entire world revolves around them. The decision led me back to that old chestnut of, drum roll … Temp Work!

I signed on with one of the larger agencies in Toronto and fell back in to the anxiety of, ‘Would I work this week?’ ‘Will Kitty and I eat soon?’. Ah, temp work. Mostly at banks, the complete and utter distain directed at you from the staff, no one talks to you except the other temps, you become just a bit of background, stuffing envelopes or sorting out monthly statements or used cheques. The grunt work that’s clearly beneath them. Couple of days, maybe a week and off you go. Bliss.

After a few months of bouncing around I got a permanent placement at a bank. Not a service bank, but a Loans and Mortgages building. I was placed in the mail room/records management. The HUB of the entire building. Fourth floor! The heart of all eight floors!  This is where the mail was sorted and all the files of all the clients for the bank were stored.

The mail was delivered in the morning and all throughout the day, any number of people would email down to our office requesting certain flies. The email was retrieved by another temp, higher up than me as they got to sit down in the main room. This temp, with at least three doctorates and an unpronounceable name would print it off, highlight the bits I needed to know and then I would go pull the files and deliver them to whoever needed them using a large metal push cart. Once there, I would collect files that had been used and take them back and re-shelve them. Simple, no?

I started doing half a day only, starting at noon, which at about seven dollars an hour was laughable. It wasn’t a particularly difficult job, nor was it particularly exciting, but I was always moving about the bank, meeting people and not meeting people at the same time.

There always seemed to be a problem with the morning person, having a new one every other week. When I realised Morning Shift Number Three wasn’t cutting it, I stepped in. It seemed he would leave and disappear for long stretches, plus he had a bum leg which seemed to make it almost impossible for him to push a trolly full of heavy files. Bum leg, skinny, bony and apparently lazy as fuck. He never used to re-shelve the files, just leave them for me to do when I came in. That got boring really fast. The day his bum leg caused him to fall over, complete with full cart of files, I tattled.

I went to the supervisor and delicately broached the subject. I didn’t know her well, she was a lovely little not-quite Grandmotherly type with white hair and always put together nicely. She seemed to have a decent sense of humour and always smelled like flowers, cookies and cigarettes. She took the news well; we can’t have sensitive files spread all over the floor and intermingling, now can we? She started to search for a replacement and I tentatively asked if I could do the whole day, as I was struggling to make it on half a day. She agreed.

So, everything sailed along, I had a full day of work and the other staff were starting to see me and talk to me and everything seemed to be on an upswing. Until The Elevator Day!

Eight floors and all accessed by four elevators from a rather small lobby. The shifts were staggered, starting from eight until ten am, so there was always a lot of traffic. I had delivered a bunch of files to the ground floor and picked up a large amount to be taken back. When I came out of the first floor office in to the lobby there were a lot of people milling about, all getting stressed, shuffling about in their heavy winter coats. It seemed the elevators weren’t working. Many people started taking the stairs, although not the special princesses in their special princess shoes and their special princess attitudes. Men are like that.

Finally one or another elevator started to move and people pushed and shoved and crammed in the small space. I had a large cart full of sensitive files so I couldn’t just abandon it. After about twenty minutes a woman who had been waiting grabbed the front of the trolly and pulled it in the elevator. She could see I was stressing quite a bit and very near tears and really didn’t want to be there any longer, ( see comment above about my wrath of humans) and the relief I felt to finally be in was palpable. But as soon as I got in, everyone else starting cramming in and cart be damned, all these assholes in suits started to push the cart out of the elevator. Because they matter and my cart and I don’t.

I stood there looking at the spot I had just seconds ago been occupying and watched all of these boxy suits and blank faces fill up the elevator, no one looking at me or acknowledging what had just happened. Only the woman who had pulled me in in the first place gave a consolatory look. I was so surprised and not really surprised at all. I quickly went from stressing to relief and was now standing in front of a full elevator and surrounded by a bunch of assholes!

Just as the elevator doors slid closed I pushed my face close to the tightening gap and yelled, “Ya? Well, you can all go fuck yourselves”

When I finally got upstairs and settled back in to my routine, I was petrified about what the fallout was going to be. I had just gotten a full time job I didn’t completely despise and now I was to be fired. I’ve been fired for less, so telling a cage full of suits to cram it was worth it, in the long run.

I was just coming out of the elevator and I saw my supervisor just getting out of the other one next to me. I stopped her and said I need to tell her something. I wondered if I should tell her exactly what happened or soft-soap it a bit. I rely wanted her to hear it from me because was certain she would hear about it anyhow. I decide to just tell it like it was and be damned with the consequences.

She politely stood in front of me listening to my tale and when I was finished there was a moment of silence. I thought, well, this is it. Back to the job search.

Instead, she smirked, tried not to laugh and then bent over holding her waist and put her purse on the floor. She laughed for a full minute. It was a bit confusing at first. She managed to stand up and collect herself. She tried to tell me that that wasn’t something one should do, but then collapsed in laughter again.

We are still friends.

cartoon speech bubble with cursing cussing fake

Real TV

BinocularsBesides a few exceptions, I’ve been television free for many many years. When I moved from Calgary to Vancouver I got rid of the television I had and never got another one. Many years later in Toronto I was learning sign language and all the practice lessons were on VHS. You heard me. I got a loaner from friends with a built in tape player and it wasn’t long before I was sucked right back in to the vortex of crap.

I’m happy to report it didn’t last long. I got rid of the television and the next batch of sign language lessons was on DVD. Last year when I moved to the Dominican Republic I watched a bit but I fall in to the same garbage patterns. Spend all afternoon on the couch watching stupid court shows waiting to watch re-runs of The Big Bang Theory or Seinfeld.

I left my television there in Sosua with the handyman, when I moved but frankly, who needs cable  when you have binoculars!? Best. Reality. Show. Ever.

It’s not like I can see into people’s houses and private life (or can I?) For a few years I lived across from the Broadview Subway stop in Toronto and I used to sip, yes, sip wine in the window and watch the world of Broadview. It was absolutely fabulous. I saw fights, lovers, drug deals, arrests, and The taste of The Danforth was the motherlode.

I got very comfortable doing this and seemed to think myself invisible. One morning I was watching a man walk past with his dog and he waved at me. Not going to lie. Surprised me quite a bit. I thought to myself, maybe I should get off the window ledge. Maybe put on a shirt.

Our Daily Grind: One.

Some years back I was working in a diner that I enjoyed and had managed to get me back on my feet and actually save some money. After several years and several staff changes, which was more family than staff, I decided it was time to move on.

I found temp-work at the LCBO for Christmas help. It was Summerhill store, the old train station, a beautiful store and one of the largest they have. I worked daily at the restaurant , doing the breakfast and lunch shift and then evenings I went to stand on the till as a cashier for another six to eight hours. It was exhausting.

Nearing Christmas, the crowds are bigger, the shifts are longer and people are crabbier. I had had a particularly hard day at the restaurant and then had to go straight to the liquor store with out a break. After several hours I finally got my break and had to walk through the entire store to get to the staff break room. On my way a man stopped me for help. He never actually looked at me, he just saw a uniform. He held up two bottles and asked me if I knew anything  about Scotch. No, I said. He barked at me, ‘Well, don’t just stand there, go find me someone who does”.

I walked to the break room.

Moral: Don’t be an asshole.geo_06_cartoon_graphik_5a