Seventeen Bucks

“Hiya, Smiler!” The man behind me at the checkout looks like he works in a resource-based industry. He looks like my fishermen in Port Hardy, and as I’m leaving the till I smile, remembering them. The irony is that the checkout girl is surly as hell. You can see her hating everything. It’s like a cloud. The thing is, this store is under where I work. I stop in there about four times a week, for some fruit or yoghurt to eat at work, or if I need kleenex or whatever. I know all the cashiers. This one is new. I predict she won’t last long.


I pause outside the store, check my wallet. No. She hasn’t given me my change. I know this because I had a twenty and I was owed seventeen dollars. Which is not in my wallet. There’s no other money in there.


So I go back in and I wait at the end of the till. The smiler guy and his wife have a lot of groceries. Surly Cashier is sliding things across the beeper thingie. I wait. I am polite.


When Smiler guy and his wife are done, I as, “Excuse me. Did I leave my change here? I gave you a twenty and a nickel, and I can’t see my seventeen dollars’ change.”


“No.” She scans the next customer’s stuff. I check my pockets, unload my bag, check pockets and wallet again.


“Excuse me,” I say. “I really don’t seem to have it.”


“I gave you your twenty,” she says.


“No, it was seventeen dollars in change,” I say. “I gave you the twenty.”


I keep on looking, hoping that I’ve just stuffed the change somewhere I don’t usually put it, but I know I haven’t.


Finally, another cashier comes over. She’s been listening from her till. I know her. We talk about hair together, and recipes. “You can take your break,” she says to the Surly Cashier. SC goes. I can tell from those five words that she’s very unimpressed with SC. A little part of me is glad.


“Still can’t find it?” she asks me.


I indicate the stuff I’ve unpacked and my pockets inside out. “I don’t know what happened. But I sure don’t have it.”


She opens the till. Hands me seventeen dollars. “Here ya go.”


“Thank you,” I say. “This is so embarrassing.”


“No, not at all,” she says airily. “It happens.”


“And if I find seventeen bucks somewhere odd, I will bring it to you,” I say. And I mean it.


Thinking about it, I do not know why Surly Cashier was so obtuse. Maybe she thought she just made seventeen more dollars that hour? Anyhow, she was a bitch. She’s not going to fit in there for long.

Friday Confessions.

Hello. I am smug. Smugger than a smug thing in smug town. I have peas on my pea plants! Peas! I am a bona-fide gardener! And I have been eating salads with my own lettuce and radishes. Yes, smug. For some reason I now feel as though I am the first person in the whole world who has grown her own vegetables. Which is silly as hell, I know. I’m hardly the Ingalls family over here. But I am smug anyhow. 100-mile diet? Hell, I’m on the 100 feet diet!


Under the smug, we have a delicious layer of shirking responsibilities. I have phone calls to make, a musical script to write, plans to arrange, and I’m just not getting anything done. Can I blame Mercury in retrograde or something?


That’s because I have been out spending money! Yes, money I don’t have! On wine I don’t need! On food I could have prepared at home for a fraction of the cost! Because I am lazy! How many exclamations do I need? Oh. Okay. There, we’re done. Seriously, though. I know I need to eat. I just don’t prep the food at home as much as I could. For a while there I was having a virtuous and cheap pasta salad for lunch most days, But that got old pretty fast. And the sushi place across from work is pretty good. Except the gyoza.


You guys do anything confession-worthy this week?

Skunk!

You’d think I’d be used to it by now. You’d think in this howling wilderness of urban wildlife, I’d act with some kind of aplomb.


Apparently not. Tonight when I paused outside to finish the paragraph of the book I’m reading, a skunk sauntered past my leg. And by ‘past my leg’ I mean within two feet of me. It didn’t care that I was there. It was on a special skunk mission. Maybe to find the tastiest grubs. I don’t know. I froze. I watched its tail for the telltale lift that precedes the Big Stink. But nothing happened and the skunk wended its way along the side path. It totally didn’t think I was a concern.


“There was a skunk out there! It walked right past me!” I closed the door and put my book down.


E looked unimpressed. “Aren’t you, like, the skunk woman? Don’t you pet them and stuff?”


I looked at him. There was one baby skunk, about ten years ago. I coerced it into a box with a heating pad and left it with a hot water bottle to sleep on. “Okay. I petted it. But it was a little baby! It didn’t have any stink left!”


“It was a skunk,” he pointed out.


“But it was a baby! Babies are different! Babies are cute and don’t cause massive stink bombs because their stinky skunk stuff glands are small!”


He looked at me and grinned. “You just love baby animals.”


Which is totally true. But a skunk still just walked right past me! I am allowed to be a bit freaked!

Condo Hype

This morning, I was sitting on the bus minding my own business. I have to mind my business in the mornings. I don’t have the brain cells to mind anyone else’s. I remember smiling absently at a grandmother with two children in tow. But there I was going down Seymour, and I saw a bunch of people with giant placards. The grandmother noticed them too. Her head craned to read the signs.


At first I thought, “Oh. Protesters.” But then I read the placards: “I (heart) downtown!” “Condo Living Is Good Living!” “Vancouver Rules!” “The Beasley!” And my head exploded.


They were being paid to put on a show in celebration of one of the downtown condo developments. Probably they were professional actors. Maybe not. But they were smiling and waving their signs (which all matched perfectly, BTW).


Before I could think, I said, “I think my irony meter just broke.” Which is why I try not to talk in the mornings. My inner monologue is all right in some contexts, but not others.


“What does that mean?” asked the elder of the two children-with-grandmother.


I mentally kicked myself. Don’t freak out children on the bus! “Erm. It means that I just never thought I would see that. I never expected it see it.”


He was unimpressed. “Oh.”

I am thinking the real estate market is teetering in It-could-never-happen-here Vancouver. Because paid “I love condos” placard-wavers? Everybody knows, you only have to pay them if there’s no real enthusiasm.

Friday Confessions.

It’s been a week of a niggling health worries. Not me, others. I worry that Arwen is coping with her grandfather’s death. I worry about several friends on my Flickr group: Beff’s been readmitted to hospital after her ileostomy wound got infected, Madge is feeling really low and her lupus is acting up. Dinx was in bed all day yesterday, and Lindsay’s freaked about her mother coming to visit.


Yesterday I also exaggerated somewhat. I told a student that I could speak French. And then he asked me the alphabet in French. And I had to call Beth to make sure, because I totally forgot some letters. I remembered ‘y’ sounded like a water bird, but I couldn’t remember which one. Egret. That’s it. Thanks, Beth!


Also, I didn’t go to belly dancing last night: Too lazy. Instead, I went home, drank wine and ate chips. Y’know. The complete antithesis to anything healthy.


Meh. Anyone else feel a vague sense of guilt hovering over their shoulders?

Content Free Post Here.

Yeah. I’m tired. Too much with the oh I can stay up late because I’ll bounce back, I can sleep when I’m dead, and I really want to finish watching CSI.


No. No, I can’t. I’m old now and I need my sleep. Of course, when I am older, I’ll need less sleep and I’ll wander around the neighbourhood at 3AM talking to cats and raccoons and setting off car alarms by accident and then hobbling away around the corner. But now? I need the sleep.


Random observations of the last couple of days:


It was great to see my brother, who is in town for an academic conference. I’ve seen him for an hour this week, and that’s all I’ll see of him til August. Academics at his level have to be dedicated or they don’t get jobs. I don’t understand his dedication to having absolutely no control over his eventual future address or position, but I support him and admire his dedication.


I wish I could link because on the recommendation of a student, I checked out ‘How to be Ninja’ on Youtube, and I laughed so hard I cried. I can only suggest that you all do as well. If you have the sense of humour of an eleven-year-old boy, which I certainly seem to.


That’s one of the things I do love about Youtube. It’s free for kids to broadcast their creativity for all and sundry. There are so many videos on there of kids who basically make their own short films: Writing, directing, acting, editing, foleying, and the rest. How great is that?! SO great, I am saying. Oh, the creativity! And the Duran Duran videos. I like Youtube for them too.


Driving a red Mini Cooper in the sunshine is heaven. Also, Glass Guy With A Fake Bearskin On His Head finally took the bearskin off. Summer MUST be around the corner.


Baxter ran outside yesterday. It was dusk, close to raccoon time around here. I freaked out. I think that’s what a panic attack might feel like: Shaking, shallow breathing, inability to speak normally? I caught Bax and he’s safe, but, man, that had me SO scared!


Yep. That’s all I got right now.

One of Those Days

Ever have one of those days when you just wake up mad?

I’m having one of those days. I don’t know why I need to say it, but I do.

I’m listening to E talk to his dad on the phone and I am thinking truly unholy thoughts.

Seven Three Exchange.

My family has been in this city, lived in this part of the city, for a long time. My parents were born here. I have lived within a few square-mile radius for the entirety of my life, except for summers in Port Hardy. Phone-number-wise, that means I live in the Seven-Three Exchange.


When I was a little girl, all my friends had phone numbers that started with 73. I made friends further afield, and then I had friends on the other side of Dunbar, whose numbers started with 22. I made friends in East Van over in the 43s. And downtown were friends in the 68 exchange. You knew where people lived based on their phone numbers.


But then the phone company said that people could take their phone numbers with them when they moved! And that 22 number from UBC? They could be anywhere. It was very unsettling. Of course, it was so very convenient for people who were moving, but, dammit, it was confusing for those of us who knew the system!


And then then! Vancouver got too big to just have one area code. There had to be two. And, of course, I got a phone with the other one, the new one, the nontraditional one. It felt weird. I was like, “I live in Vancouver, I’m a 604 girl, people!”


My dad kept the 73 number when he moved to the Island. He got another number, an Island number, but there was no way my grandmother was going to be able to remember another number. So when that phone rang, he knew it was either me or her.


But now her Alzheimer’s has progressed to the point where she can’t have a phone in her room. She’s unpredictable. So. The number is free.


I asked Dad if I could have the number. He said I could.


So I’m going back to a 73 number. It’s a strange inheritance, the phone number of my childhood. But Dad’s funny. He wants to keep it in the family. And me, I want the first phone number I ever learned to be my number. I want to keep it in the family, too. I want to be a 604 girl again, and have a number from the Seven-Three exchange.


Is it weird to see a phone number as an heirloom?

Friday Confessions

Where did the week go? I car-jockeyed two days this week and I guess that ate up the time. The boss wants me to create lesson plans for a nonfiction program we’re running in the summer and I’ve gotten around to jotting a half-page of notes. Meh. I’ll get there.


1) I seem to be losing my mind. I still am beating myself up about forgetting Gen’s daughter’s birthday last Sunday. Gen, I have no excuse except, do you really think you should expose your daughter to me, who is clearly a simpleton?


2) I ate pizza last night at 10PM. I could have chosen something more healthy, but my heart cried out for pizza. Salad simply would not have been right.


3) I am crying at everything this week. Damn PMS. I don’t think I’m bitchier, just leakier. Yucko.


Anyone else wanna say something?

Tremblay Boys

I take the Co-op cars to Tremblay Motors, which is just under the Granville Street Bridge. At first, I was leery of doing this. I am a woman, and I have had bad experiences at garages. They see boobs and they think they can pull one over on you, say you need way more work than you do on your car. So despite my great love of cars, I have never trusted garages.


And yet, I have come to trust the Tremblay Boys. I know part of it is that I work for the Co-op, their best customers ever, but I still like the basic underlaying of respect I get from these guys.


I like how Sam, the Patriarch, looks at a work order, and says, “Says it runs rough at the startup. What do you think?” What do I think? I think that you don’t see me as an incapable little bunny!


I like how Brad, the Heir Apparent, says, “Good weekend? Hang on, we’re waiting for parts on that Civic. But was the engine light on when you brought the Mazda in?”

“No,” I say. “Not while it was in drive in any gear, or neutral, or reverse.”

“Hmm”, he says.

“Okay, I’m going to drive it around for a bit. I’m going to watch the dashboard lights.”

And when I drive it around and nothing untoward happens, I say, “Brad, I’m taking this car back, there’s nothing happening here.”


And he says, “Okay,” like it’s not even a big deal that I checked it myself and am not going to make a mechanic look at it for no reason. Like he trusts me to make a decision about a car. Like I am a human being with worth of my own, and am not merely a female.


I like how Jay, the stringbean death-rocker who washes and vacuums the cars, gives me the peace sign when I bring a car in in the mornings. Like I’m a person.


I like how the mechanics give me information voluntarily. “I’m still waiting on that brake light casing,” or “Napa says that part will be here by noon, so the Corolla will be ready by two.” They do have a calendar with a woman in a bikini in the lunch room, but there’s only one. And it has their wives’ and kids’ birthdays written on it.


I like the Tremblay Boys. They think I’m a human being. I could really get used to this.

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