A Routine Job with the Opportunity for Pleasant Surprises, but not Today...
(PART ONE OF FOR CERTAIN MANY MORE)
After a spin down Compton at 5:42, a pick up at 766 John Counter on route to the very end of Rigney... (a way up by the railway tracks almost right back next to our taxi garage).
"...oh, thankfully I'll be laid off soon if they don't give me a plough.” said the nice young fella with the biggest lunch box I've ever seen. In work clothes with his big pile of work gear, I dropped off this youngster, a Cruickshank's Construction worker, a former crane rigger at Kimco and then got the hell down from the Heights and on with the day, in towards the heart of the City of Kingston. Down Division today, again simply to do it a slightly differently... I headed for Zone 4, the Wartime and sat there for few more minutes than I would have liked to… read my readings, chanted a few chants, casting a few incantations n' had had just about enough, when... it stared raining as it would and then wouldn’t then harder and softer, all through this… regular old n' routine of a day.
Around 6:33 I was at four hundred and something Bagot, off to Kingston General Hospital [KGH]... at 6:57 I drove back over to 135 Ontario Street to the Via Rail Station... it’s 7:21 and we’re off up on Princess, the Best Western west of Sir John A, to Starbucks at Wellington... then at 7:48 a hop over to... a pick up at Four Points all the way to 49 Place de Armes behind the K-Rock (thank goodness that was Cancelled).
An average old n' routine day really got rolling with a new nurse on Bagot. Well likely not new as she wasn’t a youngster, just not one of the many nurses I've been getting to know on those way too early mornings they hurriedly have to jump into my CAR… I do love my nurses and can usually get 'em giggling on these mornings that they've slept in... again! Zipped back into Zone 1 to grab an older woman, a retired nurse? A professor? At The Curruthers down on Ontario to run up to the train. She’d be meeting friend along her way to Toronto to visit the Aga Kahn, a new museum in Toronto with a great collection of Islamic art... so she told me. I thought to myself, indeed we’ll have to see that and say thank you to this older perhaps retired woman some day. Then down from the station to the Best Western on Princess to fetch a corrections officer in for a conference at Four Points. Funny enough I ended up there myself just moments after I'd dropped her down the road at the Starbucks for her morning’s first fuellings…
At 7:51 a cancellation make up, a pick up at the Delta to Transformix Robotics a way out on Gardiner... Then at 8:20 a "back flip" to Bittersweet Place all the way down Princess to the Tim's on Macdonell… afterwards at 8:45, over to Mack Street and again off to the Via Rail Station.
When Four Points was a bust CAR 29 threw me a bone and had me take a couple of Italians, serious business men a way out to the westend to meet with some roboteers who were making them angry... Apparently the robots they felt they needed to assemble the thingies that make mist squirt from their perfume bottle was a bit behind schedule. My only question, definitely not spoken in Italian was weren't there enough Italians looking for something to do that you couldn't find one or two to assemble these misty thingies for you back in Italy? A business like smile and a friendly nod... then I was off to a bittersweet place… You can’t know how happy I was to find out that my new home, The City of Kingston has a street named "Bittersweet Place".
Another construction worker, this one quite careless with no lunch box; just a kid who'd lost his licence in an, eh hem, bittersweet fashion... "that'll teach you" I told him. He agreed and promised he'd learned his lesson and wouldn't do that, ever again. He led me to believe he knew what it’d cost him... almost... Then off to Mack for another in a long line of professors I’ve had in the backseat of CAR 29. Perhaps a bit not like the others, he worked in drama, the Theatre Arts department, the author of the play, Brebeuf's Ghost. He seemed rather nonplussed when I told him I’d come here to work for Jim and that I'd seen his kids perform Galileo's Daughter at the Bader last year... I've a touchy time with these professors... I’d accuse them of having attitude, if only I knew for certain it really wasn't just an attitude of my own.
Just… a little later, 9:42 another hotel stop along Princess, the Peach Tree and off down to the hospital, again… At 10:09 to Shopper’s Drug Mart’s back door on Bagot to the Queen’s campus, Mac Cory Hall... then way back over across town at 10:23 to Sydenham past Bay, almost too close for comfort and down to the Lone Star... yet another stop along the shore of Lake Ontario 10:40 Ontario to Shoppers Drug Mart’s… back door.
"How's my cologne smell?... I mean, is it over powering? ...its the cheapest I could find at the Dollarama last night" said the huge n' happy n’ jovially round n’ puffy man from Grand Prairie. A fuel truck driver who seemed happy that so far he didn't have a story of his own truck exploding... one did catch fire though. He had a belly laughing posture but with anxiety in his eyes... He was off to visit his ex-wife, on her last days in the hospital... "Mother of your children?" (I asked quietly)… He described his boys as… the oldest, the smart one is not doing too too well, the one in the middle caught in a revolving detox puzzle, the youngest one, the dumb one, is doing the best of ‘em all… Oh, and the cologne? I pulled out the extra Pine Tree car freshener I had in my pocket; Black Ice scented and told him to rub it all over his neck, face and chin… he could have done a lot better as these Pine Tree car fresheners are likely much cheaper than… the smelly cologne he'd found last night at the dollar store all on his own.
The rain we'd been having all morning became a monsoon as I drove an Indonesian student with heavy and very British accent to class. Then picked up a couple and drove 'em on back to Shopper’s… back door. Hmmm… I think I may have missed the opportunity to introduce you to the Lone Star Bartender, no worries there'll be other pretty routine n' regular old days in CAR 29 quite shortly I’m certain… the next one, it’s likely has already happened.
Back downtown at 10:55 for another try at the Four Points this time success and off to, you guessed it, the Via Rail Station... then all the way back for an 11:35 pick up at the CIBC's branch on Bagot to the Bus Station... up in the Heights again at 11:55 it was off to the upper corner of the City of Kingston, 44 Virginia to the Credit Union at the grotty old Kings Lake Plaza... then back... 12:20 re-pick-up at Kings Lake Plaza to 44 Virginia... again.
You may have read it in the papers already, in the next few days, Canada’s wee little Army will be putting boots on the ground in Iraq... or so I was told by a Lt Colonel who’d been attending a Military Futures, Readiness Conference... Frighteningly, like all the brass I've had in my backseat, this fella was younger than I'll ever be. Three tours in Bosnia two in Afghanistan, he couldn't wait to get back on his playing field and do battle again. His family? They understood him... As always I thanked him for his service and asked him as he stepped out of CAR 29 to “…do keep an eye on our boys... after all, you’re the Lt Colonel”. He gave me a nice tip which left me wondering... am I nothing but tip mongering ploys?
The fella I picked up at the bank at the corner of Brock and Bagot had come to town to sort out his aging parents affairs and... was staying in Kingston, or maybe not, although he maybe might like to. An RMT with a laser surgery practice and a new member at the yacht club which I'll soon be joining and I did get the chance to asked him if he'd consider crewing for me on race nights? "Will I see you at next week's wine tasting?" ...not likely, but I'm looking forward to seeing this David fella again. Oh dear, Bus Station drop offs leave you back in the Heights… this time to drive ol' Jack to the Plaza then back. A sweet old man who reminds me of some old TV actor I can't put my finger on... he read the name on my taxi driver's badge and called me by name many times during the trip down to the Plaza n' then the trip back. “Thank you Gordon, I look forward to seeing you again”.
At 12:57 back to the Shopper’s back door on Bagot n’ over to Goodes Hall. Then up for a coffee n' pee and a pick up at 13:31 at the Maple Family Pharmacy... over to 47 Village Drive up and tucked over by the river... then at 13:59 a No Frills call that strangely took me to Patrick and Raglan... near home.
Admittedly these routine days can get kind of rugged, gruelling even tiring at some point or another… I’ve learned to smile through it and with a happy hello... "are you partially blind? …I mean, do you need some assistance?” I asked the fella who walked gingerly from the pharmacy and had no end of trouble squeezing himself ever so awkwardly into CAR 29. "...nope, just a rare form of spinal arthritis"... that's all and much more. Then a couple that spoke mostly with themselves except when I told them we were neighbours, that he lived just off my island, the block that I live on… He'd done two stints in therapy and is applying to become a councillor... seeing how he's been through it… I helped with their groceries... "looking forward to seeing you around"... and all.
14:15 To the hair dresser at 187 Sydenham to the Cataraqui Centre ... a short wait in the rain 14:45 Cataraqui Centre to Warburton... and then 15:01 MacKay Street to the Metro Grocery at the Gardiner Town Centre... down to another end of Kingston off Day's Road 15:22 Chelsea Street to The Keg... downtown again.
Nothing perks me up more than my little sweet n' blue haired old ladies... This time there were two, one with a walker the other couldn't walk well at all. All the way out to the Cat Centre, fighting over directions as we watched the sky turn even more blacker I told them I was racing the next blast of rain as I wouldn't want to leave them getting all wet with new hairdos... After dropping them off, unfolding the walker and walking them up and into the mall's covered doorway a happy little n' goofily bitchy little girl taps on my window and asks that I drive her to her parents where she's living after a split with her boyfriend and losing her job... As we pulled into her driveway I noted the tree swing hanging in a tree in the front yard of the house she felt too old to live in and asked her... “is that yours?"
"...is that accent Greek or Russian?" I asked the wizened old lady. The question perked her right out of her grumpy old demeanour, I'd given her some leeway as she was all soaking wet. "Ukrainian" she corrected... then we proceeded to sort out which of her countrymen like and which others don't like the Russians. She was neither here nor there on the Russians but don't bother her with the Poles. As I unfolded her walker and helped up n' out of the CAR, she smiled and asked, but then realized she'd probably take too much time with her shopping for me to wait and drive her home "...I do live quite close". Sadly, I had to go...
Eating last nights leftover pizza was the restaurant manager I'd driven with downtown a few weeks ago. He says very little, make me feel a little un-comfy but leaves a nice tip and a smile as he gets out and gets off to work.
Finally it’s almost over… 15:52 with pick up at Staples on Queen to Concession and Kingscourt... then I finish the day 15:56 just up from my home at Raglan to Diana’s Fish thingy... er, Market.
Just another, what, it's done already? ...rough n' tumble and regular old routine sort of a day... with no real surprises, just extremely nice people, one after the other that I picked up, spoke with and learned a little something of as they went along their way... Twenty or more little stories I don't have to make this stuff up… just listen and prod and asked one or two questions more than the last fella who didn't really show much of an interest… and… your day? How was it? Truly, honestly, seriously even, I've a need to know as... I've not heard anything like this before.