It’s a Small Small World

When my employment recently ended I decided to take a few days to visit my mother up (over?) in the Sault. I don’t own a car (and wouldn’t make the drive these days even if I did) and I won’t take Greyhound anymore because it’s a shitty and unreliable company, a sick, sad joke on anyone who still believes capitalism is working out well for more people than it isn’t.

I despise Greyhound. I’ve personally been stranded at least half a dozen times by it when a bus either didn’t show up or showed up with a full load of passengers already and therefore unable to take on any new ones. What makes me particularly angry about Greyhound is that it is completely unapologetic about its failure to serve its paying customers with even a modicum of respect. It treats paying customers like, well, bus people. It’s a blight on capitalism, is Greyhound, and a testament to the lack of entrepreneurial initiative in this supposedly great country of ours.

Seriously, politicians should be forced to take Greyhound on our dime instead of personal jets (or whatever the hell we’re flying that former Reformer Prime Minister of ours around in these days) so they could get a taste of REAL capitalism at work in Canada. At least it would put an end to the government subsidies that piece of shit company is no doubt getting to pad its profit margins. Cripes, just pile Greyhound’s subsidies on top of the millions (billions?) going to our tarsands developers and call it even, I say.

No service at all is better than Greyhound.

I fly Porter to the Sault because Porter, unlike Air Canada and even Bearskin, is affordable (if you’re safely middle-class, having had a lifetime of unionized employment, like me – are you listening Justin Trudeau?) and the people who work for Porter don’t seem to hate their paying customers as much as everybody else in the service industry now does. Also, it flies into Toronto Island Airport and I’ve always resented the lucky bastards who thought to buy tidy little properties on the island.

Screw island homeowners, I say.

Anyway, it was last week that I began my trip. I arrived at the Ottawa airport, having forgotten my printed boarding pass at home. (My friend, Theresa, is a big believer in eschewing all of this “do it yourself” service, right down to leaving her dishes on the table in those restaurants where you’re supposed to double as both patron and server.) No problem, because it turned out a plane had encountered mechanical difficulties and flight cancellations were the order of the day, which I found out when it was my turn up at bat for a boarding pass.

Hm. Flight cancellation, eh. As I stood to the side, thinking over my options, forgetting I was unemployed anyway and really had no place to be at any particular time, a couple of bozos in line said they were going to ask for a refund and drive to the Sault instead of fly.

Bozo #1 says, “Wanna ride?”

So I, being a sucker for bozos, replied, “Okayyyyy… Will you be stopping for lunch?”

“Shit yeah, we’re stopping for lunch – it’s a six hour drive.”

“And by six, I assume you mean ten.”

“Right, yeah, okay, ten, whatever – you can help pay for gas.”

Hm. Pay for gas, eh. All of a sudden bozo #2 says to bozo #1, “Did you just offer her a ride? Because I think you’re forgetting something if you did? You know? The thing? The reason why she can’t come with us?”

Just then, the Porter agent who had been listening to this with growing alarm (she was of the younger generation who’d no doubt been told never to take a ride with strangers, or some such irony given her current employment) calls me closer and says, “I believe we put our people up at the Royal York in Toronto if that would help you make a decision.”

Sold – to the highest bidder! (I did have the choice of staying in Ottawa and being put up at a hotel here, but I’d be flying out at 6:30 a.m. to get to Toronto for a 9:00 a.m. flight to the Sault, so… yeah – it was pretty much a no-brainer. Also, the Royal York has a pool now and I’d packed my bathing suit.)

So I went through security, picked up my meal voucher and headed to Darcy McGee’s. The meal voucher really only covered half the meal but that was because I bought a guinness to go along with my fish and chips (very good, although the guinness came cold, which really is inexcusable in a place that goes by the name of Darcy McGee’s). And the service apparently only covers patrons directly in the line of sight of the plaid-skirted wait staff, who have no peripheral vision, so be sure to place yourself accordingly when you patronize Darcy McGee’s at the airport.

But I was in no hurry, so a half hour wait for service that ended when I moved to a table directly in front of a server was no problem. Soon, too, a mother and son sat beside me with a couple of meal vouchers of their own. It turned out they were headed to the Sault as well but would make it there on a combination of airlines that very same day.

“Interesting”, I said. “No such option was presented to me.”

“Well, I just said we want to get there today, so they made other arrangements. We don’t really have to, but I wanted to, so they figured something out.”

Hm. Wanted to, eh. So that’s what makes the difference with capitalism. You have to want to get what you pay for. My failure was in not wanting enough.

I tucked that little nugget away for next time.

Anyway, we got to talking and it turned out she was from Echo Bay, where I only know two people, one of whom I worked for and one of whom drives my mother across the river once a week to go gambling.

She knew the wife of one and the ex-wife of the other. So we moved on to the Island (St. Joe’s) where it turned out my cousin’s husband had set her mother’s arm the last time she broke it. On to the Sault and I mention my brother who years ago had been her lawyer, something to do with a sawmill next to her property, and “he won!” she exclaimed, reliving the excitement and waving her arms in the air.

“Ah, so that was the one he won!” I joked.

Then we took a brief pause before I heard her son say, “Yabbut, you took forestry, mom – that’s totally different.” So I said, “Forestry? Where?” And she said, “Lakehead.” So I said, “Did you live in residence?” And of course she said yes and it turned out she knew my now deceased uncle who was notorious as Lakehead’s one-time director of residence.

Anyway, keeping the streak alive, I met my daughter for dinner in Toronto that evening and while I was waiting for her outside the “Hair of the Dog” (which looks like a leather bar on the first floor but if you go upstairs it’s just like any other restaurant on Church street – totally maxed out gay and with really good food and at a reasonable price for downtown Toronto) who should walk by but Andrew Nichols of CBC fame.

“Hey, Andrew Stevens!” I shout, mixing him up with another Andrew I don’t know, either.

“Why hello… Um… Do we know each other…?”

“No. But you went to journalism school with my boyfriend, ‘Stoo’.” (What I didn’t tell him was that I knew that because my beau had told a story about expressing a bit o’ the old green monster once upon a time when his galpal of the day seemed to spend a lot of time around the all too handsome by half Andrew Nichols – until she told him he could stand down because Andrew Nichols is gay.)

So, of course, Andrew Nichols says, “Oh wow. Small world. How IS ‘Stoo’?”

“He’s great, how could he not be, I’m his girlfriend.”

And Andrew Stevens laughed and went on his way, no doubt relieved to be gay all over again, as I was wearing a floppy blue hat ala Annie Hall and orange running shoes ala PeeWee Herman – a handy visual of the middle-aged girlfriend fate that has befallen his poor former schoolmate, that he had (I assume) avoided with his homosexuality.

Although I did see some questionable outfits on Church Street while waiting for my daughter. Andrew Stevens, of course, looked like he just popped out of a Ralph Lauren ad in October’s Vanity Fair. Seriously, Church Street has seen better clothing days, if I recall my days living nearby on Jarvis correctly.

My time in the Sault passed relatively uneventfully, starfuckingwise, but once back out at the airport I overheard a woman waiting to pick up someone on an incoming flight. She was talking to a couple of old friends from high school (loudly, with lots of squeals of delight, so it wasn’t like I was totally eavesdropping). It was the first time they’d seen each other in 30 years and one of them asked about her brother, whom she’d dated briefly, apparently.

“That’s who I’m here to meet. My brother. You knew he was gay, right? He’s a former MP.”

I knew instantly who it was, of course, having wanted to date him briefly myself. It was quite a blow when my mother told me, “You know he’s gay, right?” To which I would have said, “well, duh”, if “well duh” had been invented yet, but as it hadn’t, settled on, “oh. well then. that explains… er… never mind.”

So I butt in, “Omigawd, is your brother Rob? He married my ex and I! He was working for Peterson, then, it was after he left the United Church!” (I believe on account of that nasty schism it had over the ordination of homosexuals – as if every second United Church minister isn’t already gay. I mean, the United Church is a prime example of too much vox populi, if you ask me. The executive should have just told the homophobes in the congregation to shut the fuck up and listen to its betters and decreed that ONLY homosexuals could become ordained ministers. There just isn’t enough tit for tat in this society of ours if you ask me, which no one ever does or I wouldn’t have to butt in on private conversations all the time.)

I almost missed him, too, because Porter was suddenly all over timeliness and making sure everybody was through security so we could wait an hour for our flight in that cold section of the Sault airport (surliest airport experience ever – seriously, if you want to experience surly service that is practically an art form, fly through the Sault airport – you won’t be disappointed) that really works to increase your delight when the plane finally arrives and you can thaw on board.

And really, I shouldn’t complain about free booze, but clearly there isn’t time to drink a full glass of wine (even for my mother) on a flight from Ottawa to Toronto, so if Porter is taking suggestions – give us our own bottles – with screw tops.

Luckily, just when I started getting that, “wow, you’re really begging for a random strip search, lady” look from the surly security at the Sault airport, Rob showed up and I told him to call my mother (the most tenacious Liberal in the land) and get her up-to-date on Justin – whom Rob didn’t seem entirely sold on, but I digress again. Although before I digress again I should tell you if you’re talking to Justin, dear Sooey Says reader(s), that my mother and I both think he’s the best choice for Liberal leader BECAUSE he doesn’t have a lot of experience in politics, which is clearly not an asset or the Liberals would have done the sensible thing some time ago and elected Bob Rae leader – for life.

Or death, whatever the case may be. And I’m not sure I’m talking about Bob Rae or the Liberal Party of Canada but it hardly matters because if those numbnuts don’t elect Justin Trudeau leader than they may as well launch themselves into space.

And yes, that’s a dig at Marc Garneau, who seems to think being a rocket scientist is a necessary qualification for being the leader of a political party. Uh, newsflash, Marc, Stephen Harper isn’t a rocket scientist. In fact, he barely had a job before he created his own party, hired a bunch of dirtbags to misdirect the competition to the wrong polling stations on election day, and voila, presto, became Prime Minister of Canada.

Hm, speaking of digressions – I’m unemployed with a spotty resume (thanks to a decade of homemaking – very rewarding work if you can get it) but really good at talking it up (I’ve got a dozen years age-wise on Justin Trudeau, who’s screaming rich ferchrissakes, and he’s probably worked more’n I have, although I’ve certainly worked more’n Stephen Harper has) and with all the people I run into wherever I go in this ever downsizing world of ours – Hey, maybe I should run for leader of the Liberal Party!

After all, it could be worse – especially now that I’ve started the rumour that Omar Khadr is thinking of running, too.

Shame we couldn’t fly him home on Porter, maybe even route him through the Sault airport so he’d be grateful for the stopover in Millhaven.




  1. Brilliant writing! I’m jealous:)

  2. Thanks, Morely Bolero – your much appreciated comment inspired me to do a quality check! (I corrected a couple of blechy bits for posterity porpoises and to satisfy my ARS – Anal Retention Syndrome.)