Hostage night in Canada

Whaddya do on a rainy night in Toronto?

MacLean & MacLean – What Do You Do On a Rainy Night in Toronto?

It started off so well. A good friend and writing colleague of mine, Patricia Flewwelling, asked me if I was interested in going to an event put on by the Crime Writers of Canada, CWCbetter known as the CWC, announcing the short lists for their Arthur Ellis awards. A handful of authors, including three I had books from, would be reading, cool people like Jill Edmondson, another author, would be there. Possibly even Paul Alves from I really wanted to meet him, but unfortunately, he didn’t make it.

bookguysSide note: if you’re interested in books or movies, check out It’s cool.

Anyway, the event sounded like an interesting Thursday night out. So I said yes.

Pat, who’s from Montreal, was staying in a Howard Johnson’s (better known as “HoJo’s”) in the extreme east end of Scarborough. So, I drove there and parked my truck. We would take Pat’s car, which is smaller than my ridiculously big fat Dodge Ram Hemi, and much more amenable to parking in downtown Toronto.

Pat shifted the detritus from the front seat to the back and I climbed in. The next half-hour was rather hilarious as I watched Pat, who is used to driving in Montreal, proceed to sputter and rage at the drivers on the 401 and Don Valley Parkway. It was then that we realized this was, in our thirteen years of knowing each other, that I was in the passenger seat.

We made it into Toronto, running late. The CWC event started at 7:00, and we were parking right around then. Pat found an underground spot, we drove in, got the ticket, and parked, then rushed out to the event.

arthur ellisOf the event, I won’t say a lot, except that I really enjoyed Howard Shrier‘s and Robert Rotenberg‘s readings, as well as a couple of others. I got my books autographed, met Jill and it was decided that a few of us would head over to a bar for a couple of drinks. I didn’t mind horribly, though I’d hoped to be home by 10:00. Howard Shrier mentioned he’d likely only have one as he had an early meeting with a publicist for his new book in the morning. Good, I thought, we won’t be late then.

Around 10:30, I started making noises about leaving. More drinks were ordered. Around 11:00, I made some more noises. Around 11:30, it looked like it was going to happen, then I realized we hadn’t paid yet, so we had to wait for checks. That led to another round of drinks and toasts.

Finally, we got out at 12:30.

Pat and I hit the streets, wet with light rain. We made our way back to the parking lot. I figured, well, it’s 12:30 now, so it’ll be at least an hour before I’m home. I’d better grab a coffee for the road. So we hit the Tim Horton’s across the street, then laden with coffee, tried to get to the car.

The garage door was down. No matter, there was a stairway leading to an entrance. I walked down it, jiggled the doorknob. Locked.


Heading back up, I looked at the sign. Yes, it said it was open 6 am to 7 pm and, forgetting for the moment how ridiculous it is to close a public parking lot at 7 pm in downtown Toronto, I looked for the note that said something about “no entrance after hours.” There was none.

I called the number on the sign and it went something like this:

“Hi, I’m parked at the 1075 Bay Street parking lot and I need to get to my car.”
“Come back at 6 am.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“No sir.”
“Look, I need that car. I’m from Courtice and I’ve got someone here from Montreal that needs to get back to her hotel room and her dog.”
“There’s nothing I can do.”

1075 Bay Street Parking...better known as the Ninth Circle of Hell

1075 Bay Street Parking…better known as the Ninth Circle of Hell

So I swore loudly and disconnected. As I did this, it immediately started to rain much harder.

With nothing else to do, Pat flagged a cab and we headed back to her hotel room in Scarborough.

We’d just gotten into the cab and were discussing options (both of us needed to work in the morning, we were trying to figure out ways to get Pat’s car) when the Wife called. “Are you planning on coming home tonight?”

I explained my situation and told her I was on my way back to the truck. As I told her this, I had a flash of a memory. A memory of me looking at my keys and weighing options.

“Oh shit,” I said.

Both the Wife and Pat said, “What?”

“I just realized,” I said. “I left my keys in Pat’s car.” I let that sink in. Pat’s car. Currently receding behind us at 110 kmph. “I can’t drive home.”

I have a real problem with keys. To find out more, read this.

My first thought was to get the Wife to drive out and meet me in Scarborough, but she reminded me that our daughter had taken the car and was sleeping over at a friend’s place. They were celebrating the end of their first year of college. “She’s likely had a couple of drinks by now,” the Wife said. So that was out. I could tell by her voice she was not happy.

It was decided at that point that I would sleep on the floor in Pat’s hotel room. Pat warned me that, because she’d been drinking, she’d likely snore. “I snore too,” I said. “No biggie.”

I apologized to the Wife, Pat apologized to the Wife, and I hung up. $70 and 30 minutes later, we got back to the HoJo’s.

Pat’s mother had been dogsitting, and offered me a ride back, but with my daughter out, there was no way I would be able to get back to Scarborough, or to work in the morning.

Now, Pat’s mom is nice, but by now it was around 1:00 am, and I’d made the decision to get up at 5:30 to go get Pat’s car right when the garage opened at 6:00. So I just wanted to lay down and sleep. Pat and her mother chatted about the dog, about pizza, etc.

I’ll be honest here. When I’m tired, I can get rude. I’m sure I was rude, but neither Pat nor her mother mentioned it. They’re both far too nice to say anything.

Me? I grabbed a couple of pillows, dropped them on the floor, took off my button-down shirt so I’d look a little presentable in the morning and stretched out in my jeans and t-shirt. Pat’s mother left shortly thereafter.

Ever tried to sleep on the floor of a hotel? The carpet’s thin. It smells. We hadn’t thought to request an extra blanket, so there I was, fully clothed, contacts still in my eyes, trying to sleep. Let me break the next few hours down for you.

1:15 – 2:00 am:
Pat and her dog Dixie settled into bed, and both started slow, regular breathing. I tried to ignore the discomfort of the floor and focus on getting to sleep. Instead, I felt the slow thrumming of that last coffee jangling my nerves and popping my eyes open. Cars and trucks drove by. Dixie breathed. Pat breathed. Then I heard the shift of Pat’s breathing and thought, wow, if that’s what she calls snoring, that’s nothing. Ten minutes later, it got louder. Then louder still. It crescendoed to a room-rattling snarl, before reaching a peak, a snort, and a sound like glib-glab, then stopped. Then the whole cycle started again, taking about fifteen minutes from first heavy breaths to final glib-glab.

2:00 – 2:30 am:
The snoring was now done for the night. Next came the argument in the front lobby. I could tell the one guy was the poor bastard manning the desk of a Scarborough HoJo’s in the middle of the night, but I couldn’t tell who the other guy was. And the yelling didn’t serve to educate me any further

“I’m gonna call the cops.”
“You aren’t gonna call the cops.”
“Yes I am. I’m gonna call the cops.”
“You won’t call the cops.”
“I’m gonna call them. I’m gonna call the cops.”
“Go ahead! You call the cops.”
“I’m calling the cops.”

Seriously. If I wrote conversations like that in my fiction, I’d immediately delete it.

Not able to sleep, I pushed a pillow up against the wall and sat, arms on knees, head on arms. Did nothing.

2:30 – 3:00 am:
Two dogs. Two separate occasions. The first, some little pipsqueak of a thing, out in the hallway, yipping, then it was quickly cut off. The second was a bigger dog, and it barked five or six times.

Gave up and stretched back out again. This floor wasn’t getting any more comfortable. Smelled like dogs and dirty feet. I tried not to think about how many feet had walked the spot where I lay.

3:00 – 4:00 am:
Gave up, turned on my side, got as comfortable as I could. Fell asleep for fifteen minutes or so. Woke up, turned to other side, got maybe another half hour’s sleep.

4:00 – 5:00 am:
Got cold. Dreamed of my warm leather jacket, sitting not a hundred yards from where I lay, locked in my truck. Pulled my button down shirt off the chair and draped it over me. Watched the time go by in ten minute increments. Amused myself by counting to six hundred to see if I could accurately predict ten minutes. Nope. Had the Canadian comedians MacLean & MacLean’s song running through my head. Whaddya do on a rainy night in Toronto? Though their answers were funny, mine were just sad. Lose a car. Lose my keys. Lay awake on a floor. Curse the world that allows parking garages to close too early.

I can’t express the precise toll sleeping on a hard, cold, malodorous floor will take on you. How badly it stresses you to want to sleep, to need to sleep, to beg to sleep, but sleep doesn’t come. Instead, the night is spent staring up at a small green light on the smoke detector, the only point of interest in an otherwise dark room. The thoughts, every time the time is checked, of, That’s XX less minutes of sleep. I have to get up in XX hours. And too soon, that last thought changes to I have to get up in XX minutes. And finally, pushing up off the floor, tired, depressed, frustrated, and feeling two decades older than four hours before.

Though I’d originally planned to get up at 5:30, boredom and my bladder got me vertical at 5:00.

Called a cab company. The cab that should have been there in five minutes took more like fifteen. The cabbie called me to ask me where the hotel was. He later admitted he was a little concerned about picking someone up in Scarborough (he normally worked the western end of Toronto).

He finally found me, and by 5:30, I was on my way back to Pat’s car.

$75.00 later, he dropped me in front of the despicable 1075 Bay Street location right at 6:00 and I walked in, ready to drop a can of whupass on whoever happened to be working that morning.

There was no one. The entire place was automated.

Tell me again why a parking garage with no humans, only automated systems, needs to be closed at fucking 7:00 pm?

Found the car, pulled up to the exit, plugged in the ticket. Wasn’t surprised to see the daily maximum of $12.00 had, of course, been doubled. Why shouldn’t they hold your car hostage overnight, then bill you $24.00 for the privilege?

At this point, as I pulled out my credit card, I could only laugh. I stopped at the exact same Tim’s and ordered a big, fat coffee. Because, you know, there’s always time for Tim Horton’s.

I drove back to the hotel in Scarborough, got there about 6:30. Parked Pat’s car, snagged my keys, took her keys back to her, then got back in my truck and, bone weary, headed home.

Got home about 7:00. Got my son up for school, walked the dog, had a shower, ironed a new shirt and headed back out to spend a full day standing in the Oshawa Centre to observe how one of my company’s stores run.

The next time I get invited to an event in Toronto, I’m still going to say yes, but I’ll be goddamned if I’ll park at 1075 Bay Street.

And it will turn out to be something better to do on a rainy night in Toronto.

Life and death and camping in Canada

And I feel like I’m gonna die
I don’t feel so good inside
Why baby-why, why, why?
But I had a good time
You know I had a good night

RamonesDeath of Me

You’ve heard that expression, I’m sure, about the person who’s never on time? The one that goes something like, He’ll be late for his own funeral?

Yeah. That one.

I think it’s okay to talk about this next thing I did. The statute of limitations has run out on it by now. Hopefully.

When I was a teenager in Barry’s Bay, my friends and I had a bit of a summer tradition. There was a core group of us, Pat, Dennis, Bob, brothers Dale and Dean, and myself. Occasionally others would come out for a day or two. We’d find someplace to camp for a few days. Really, for some of us, it was simply an excuse to get absolutely hammered. For others, such as myself, it was to simply remember all the details and relate them back to the sobered up ones a few days later.

A two-four

A two-four

I’m not kidding here. I think the general rule of thumb was a two-four (for any Americans out there, that translates to a case of 24 beers) for each day of camping.

Anyway, on this particular camping trip, we somehow managed to pick some of the shittiest, wettest weather we could manage. Most of the time, we spent huddled in an old canvas tent that leaked moisture like dew, small glassy beads of water slowly swelling to heavy globs that could no longer cling to the roof of the tent, and fell in great, freezing splashes on exposed body parts.

If we weren’t in the tent, we were learning the futility of trying to maintain a campfire in the rain. I have a dim, fuzzy memory of one of the guys propping a canoe up on an angle, wedging the top between two trees, then huddling under it, trying to light a fire. I don’t think it worked.

canada ehAnyway, there’s a few stories that came out of this weekend. I’ll leave you with three.

In the garden of Eden

The first was the sight of seeing one of our group catastrophically drunk, popping open the doors of his pickup truck, selecting a specific song on the cassette player, then proceeding to…well, really, there are no words, however I’ll try.

Picture a tall, blond male encased in jeans and a t-shirt, both damp from the rain. On his head is a slightly battered cowboy hat. His face is brushed with a light dusting of hair under his nose and under his chin. He’s got a loose, boneless motion as he first bobs his head, then eventually jerks his body back and forth, a staggering, zombie-like creature, completely attuned to, and drunkenly grooving, for the next seventeen minutes and five seconds, to Iron Butterfly‘s In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida. The primary picture I have in my mind is him desperately clutching the tailgate of the truck as he shoots his head forward, the cowboy hat somehow resolutely holding on for dear life.

That’s a memory that will never go away. All the more fitting, as it’s sort of a drunken anthem. The song was originally titled In the Garden of Eden but the singer got drunk and slurred the words into In a gadda da vida. True story.

Four quarts will open her

The second memory is several of us playing poker in the tent. One of the brothers wasn’t able to hold his liquor all that well. He became not just drunk, but obnoxious. So when he raised his head and proudly declared he “hadda piss,” we all looked to his brother. Genetics always trump.

The older brother helped the younger out, then walked him around behind it, a safe distance away from the tent. Interested in how he was being managed, we watched through the small window.

The older one grabbed his brother by the back of his jeans. The younger, taking meticulous care, finally got his fly open, and proceeded to relieve himself. How, guys can hold a remarkable volume of urine. And he seemed to hold even more. The peeing went on and on. And on.

And on.

A couple of times, the older brother, getting wet holding his brother up, would say, “Are you almost done?”

“Yeah, yeah…”

And on he would piss.

Finally, he finished up. By this point, the younger brother, still being held by the back of his pants, was leaning forward at a startling angle. He got everything packed away, and zipped up. “Done now?” his brother asked.

“Nope!” the younger said, then opened his jaws and threw up spectacularly. This, of course, did nothing to improve relations with the older brother, who turned away and grimly held on.

Thankfully, the puking went faster than the pissing, but by now, the older brother has pretty much had it with the younger. After the final hacking and spitting, and still at that rakish angle, he said, “Done now?”

Wiping his mouth, the younger said, “Yeah.”

“Good,” the older said, then let him go.

Yes, he dropped forward, straight into his own bodily fluids.

The older left him there, came back around, got in the tent, resumed his position, and said, “Okay, whose deal is it?”

A little while later, the younger eventually gathered himself together, dragged his sodden body over to the tent, stuck his goo-encrusted face up to the screen window and said, “Open up! Lemme in!”

“You gotta go around to the front of the tent to get in,” we explained.

“Fuggoo! You hid th’ fuggin’ zipper! Yoo fuggin’ bassards!”

It went like this for a while, then his face disappeared. We heard rustling and muttering, then a snicking noise, then came the phrase that, over thirty years later, I still remember.

Apparently, he had a small pocket knife on his person. The snicking noise was him opening the blade up. Then, when he said, “Four quarts’ll open ‘er.”

Translated from Drunk, this meant, “Step off dear friends and sibling, I’m about to cut myself a new method of ingress.”

We all ran out and, in quick succession, stopped him, disarmed him, then dragged him around to the front of the tent. Yes, he got cleaned up before he was allowed back in.

Bloody tourists

However, it’s the final story of this ridiculous excuse for a vacation that I feel the most stupidity and shame for.

After a few days of toughing it out, we decided to stick a fork in it, pack it all up and head back home. By now, none of our clothes are dry, it’s been too cold to swim, so we haven’t bathed in days. We smell like damp and smoke and beer and puke and sweat and dirt. We’re tired, we’re miserable and some of us are hung over.

We just want to get home.

One of my chief complaints about Barry’s Bay after I learned to drive was the summer tourists. For ten months of the year, I could drive through the town virtually unimpeded. But come summer, the traffic would lock up at the three-way stop at the hub of the town.

It’s funny when I think about that now, after having been trapped on the 401 for hours at a time. Oh, the impatience of youth, right?

So, we were all piled into the bed of the pickup truck, and, once past that three-way stop, I was ten minutes from a shower, a hot meal, and my own bed. So, I was a little impatient. Then we came to a dead stop in the middle of town. We were at least five or six cars back from that stop sign where we needed to turn right toward my home.

And we weren’t moving.

I remember first leaning off the side of the truck, then getting out to look. I became virtually apoplectic. I remember looking into the truck and saying something like, “Some stupid bitch is letting all these cars through! Stupid goddamn tourists!”

Then, I made a decision.

“Screw this!” I said. Then I walked past those five or six cars in front of us. I walked up to that three-way stop, then I paused for a moment to observe exactly what was happening. What I saw infuriated me even further. Cars were coming up to the intersection, then simply driving through, taking up that lane that we needed for me to get home. My bleary, tired mind could find no reason for this.

Well, I wasn’t going to let this hold me up. I boldly walked right into the middle of the intersection, a dirty kid dressed in unlaced workboots, jeans, a t-shirt and a flannel lumberjacket (also known as a Kenora or Muskoka dinner jacket), hair wild and greasy, and an angry expression of hate for all things touristy.

Kenora dinner jacket

Kenora dinner jacket

I saw the next car about to pull out and into the intersection. I held my left hand up and stood in front of him. Then I turned around and, with my right hand, I pointed at the woman in the car sitting at the front of my line, then waved at her to proceed. I can still see her eyes, wide and staring at me. She did a small shake of her head, but I would not be denied.

“GO!” I roared.

She went. Then I turned and got the other guy to go. I basically directed traffic at that stop for the next minute or two until the pickup truck came into view. I waved him around the corner, then ran and dived into the bed.

A few minutes later I was home.

And then, as I came through the door, my mom said, “Oh, you’re home early. Did you run into that big funeral procession in town?”



Turns out a VIP in town had died while we were out getting soaked and drunk and singing In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida. And I came back to town just in time to make him late for his own funeral. Rush hour in the Garden of Eden.

I never ever told her what I did. But I remember there being a write up in the local paper a couple of days later about an “unknown person” that held up the procession.

Now, memory may be playing tricks on me here, because as far as I remember, it was our Member of Parliament, a man named Yakabuski, but I don’t think that’s right because the years are off. So, if anyone happens to know a bigwig that died in Barry’s Bay in the summer of 1980, let me know, huh?

And if you happen to be related to that person, I’m sorry.

God as my witness, I’d never really experienced a funeral procession before. Had no idea what headlights on in the middle of day meant.

Yes, I was a stupid kid.

But you know what? I probably wouldn’t be that upset if, at my own funeral–which I hope is not for many, many years–is held up by some ridiculous, impetuous teen. Because, I’d probably like that kid.

Shop the madness! Or, grocery shopping etiquette in 11 + 2.5 easy steps

Anyone who reads this blog knows how much I love shopping (and for those who haven’t read this blog before, “love shopping” is total, unadulterated sarcasm). If I die and go to hell, the devil will give me a shopping cart and tell me to shop ’til I drop.


Today, due to a confluence of evil forces, I was forced to shop in my local No Frills, as well as WalMart, and finally, at Costco. And I also had to shop not only for my family, but for my mother as well. Pretty damn close to that hell scenario above, right?

Anyway, likely because the stores were closed yesterday for Good Friday, today should have been renamed Evil Saturday. Everyone seemed to need to feel the smooth plastic of a shopping cart in their hands. Everyone seemed to need to line up endlessly. And here was I, caught in the middle of this retail maelstrom. In fact, at one point, when I was in an aisle that could accommodate at least four carts side-by-side, and I was locked in position for a solid five minutes, I looked over at my wife and said, “kill me now.” Several people snickered. But no one moved.

Anyway, having spent so much time in line, I hereby present Tobin’s Rules for Shopping.

parking_lotRule 0: Don’t park like a douchenozzle
Yes, I’m starting at rule 0, because you haven’t even started shopping yet, and already you’re pissing people off. I’m going to try and be as clear as I can here: A parking space is an area of pavement usually bordered by three yellow lines. You park your vehicle so that it is contained within those three lines. To do anything other than this is to park like a douchenozzle. How does a douchenozzle park, you ask?

  1. A douchenozzle will take up two spaces, either on purpose or because they lack the basic talent to navigate a vehicle. You can tell the difference, because the one that does it on purpose will likely park it at a rakish angle, where the no-talent will just be over one of the lines by a foot or two.
  2. A douchenozzle will park where there is no parking space whatsoever. Usually closer to the store than anyone else, often right in the path of other cars.
  3. A douchenozzle will foolishly believe they will only be a few minutes, so they don’t need no stinkin’ parking space. Instead, they’ll park right up at the curb beside the store, usually blocking everyone else’s access to and from the store. Often, the douchenozzle themselves will stay in the car, smoking and playing obnoxious dance music at an obnoxious volume while they wait for their significant other (usually the one with the clothes that were in fashion in the 80s, back when they were twenty, or they’re wearing clothes that are five sizes too small for them because it makes them sexy, or, as they say, “schmexy,” or they look like they just came off a welfare-cheque financed bender) runs in for the stuff.

Don’t do any of this. Douchenozzle.

Rule 1: Don’t block the entrance
When you have made your list, grabbed your coffee, somehow managed to find a parking spot, remembered your bags, dug out a quarter and snagged a shopping cart then you’re already ahead of the game. So why the hell do you feel it’s necessary to get just inside the doors, then stop? Why? Get your ass all the way in, find a quiet, or at least an out of the way spot by all that weird fruit that no one buys, then get your shit together. Dick.

Rule 2: Watch where you’re going
Yes, there’s all sorts of things to do when you’re shopping. Keep track of that shopping list. Drink your coffee. Avoid all the morons. Scan for sales. Compare prices and sizes because it’s stunning how often they rip you off with the jumbo sizes. Etc. Etc. Etc. But seriously, it’s no worse than driving a car. So why do so many people simply choose to look sideways, or at their list, instead of where the hell they’re going? If you do this shit in the grocery store, I guarantee you’re the type to text and drive and I trust you will end up on the Darwin Awards shortly. And if you do this, and don’t know what the Darwin Awards are…don’t worry. You’ll find out. Moron.

Rule 3: Don’t walk forward and look backward
If you’ve already passed something, then you should have damn well looked at it then. If you didn’t, you have two choices: Back up safely, or loop around and check it out on the second pass. You should not be staring at it, trying to decide if it’s right for you, as you continue to walk away from it. There’s people’s heels in front of you, moron. Those damn carts hurt when they nail you right on that tendon. Again, if you do this here, you likely do this when you drive and obviously the sidewalks are no longer safe to walk. Shithead.

Rule 4: Don’t block the lane
So you’ve read the first three and you’re feeling pretty satisfied because you can honestly say, “I’ve never done any of those.” Well, then how about this perennial gem: Instead of slamming into people by looking backwards or sideways, you leave your cart to go on an exploratory side expedition, because those Ballpark Hot Dog-flavoured Potato Chips are strangely intriguing you. So you leave your damn cart in the middle of nowhere while you go off to scan the product. You’re like that stupid geologist from the movie Prometheus that sends all those flying robots to map out the place, then gets lost. Because no one leaves their cart for a second. They leave it, a large, grocery laden, steel-mesh chunk of flotsam, for a few minutes while everyone else now has to navigate around it. Watch out for me, because I’ll toss that damn cart down the nearest aisle and I don’t care how much stink eye you give me. I’ve done it. Fool.

Rule 5: Paying more attention to your phone than to the task at hand
Okay, yes, they’re convenient. Yes, people can now call you/text you/FB you/Tweet you and every other thing they pack into mobile devices these days. I use mine to hold the shopping list. So, they have their uses. But it is not acceptable to stop in the middle of a crowded grocery store to update your FB status.
FBIt’s not cool to slam your carts into other shoppers’ carts because you’re texting your BFF. That’s not an LOL. Or a ROFL. That’s a GTFOOMW (Get The Fuck Out Of My Way). That’s a WWTHYD (Watch What The Hell You’re Doing). Asshat.

Rule 6: There’s always someone behind you
Which means, when you decide to take twenty minutes to decide between the President’s Choice Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookies and the President’s Choice Decadent Chocolate Chunk Cookies, you’ve likely chosen to stop your stupid cart directly beside the person who is updating their FB to complain about the dude taking twenty minutes to decide between the President’s Choice Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookies and the President’s Choice Decadent Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Meanwhile, there’s a logjam of people stuck behind you both. Now, most people are polite. But if you hear a low, menacing, “Jesus H. Christ on Toast!” behind you, that’s me wondering if I hit you hard enough, will you press into the mesh of your cart and have to explain to your significant other why you suddenly look like you came out of a waffle iron. So move. Cretin.

express-lane-is-THIS-manyRule 7: Learn to count prior to jamming up the 8 Items or Less line
So you’ve managed to navigate the hazardous waters of the grocery store and now you’re ready to check out. Then, after a flawless performance, you then blow it all by parking your sorry ass in the wrong line. This one’s a particular pet peeve of mine. You can read further adventures here. Here’s a crazy suggestion: Try these steps.

  1. Read the sign and ask yourself, “How many items do they allow in this aisle?” It could be 8. It could be 10. It could be 12. Hell it might even be 15. In any case, between your fingers and your toes, you have enough to count them. Do so.
  2. Don’t be a bitch and say, “Well, I’ve got three loaves of bread, but really, they’re only one product, so that counts as one.” No it doesn’t. If you’ve got three, then count three.
  3. Count up all your items.
  4. Now here’s the tricky part. If the number of items in your cart or basket exceeds (which is a fancy-schmancy word for “is more than”) that number on the sign, then you cannot go in that line.
  5. Judge yourself accordingly

Trust me, this will save you a lot of harrasment at my hands if I happen to be the dude standing behind you, counting your items loudly, then bemoaning the fact that our school system no longer sees fit to teach our youth how to count. Pus bag.

buttRule 8: Don’t butt in line
So you’re looking at those horribly long, slow moving lines and even the 8 Items or Less line is stunningly long (likely with those that can’t count past five), so you find someone with a cart that’s bulging with food items and groaning under the weight and, when the person looks the other way, you choose to just deke in front of them. After all, you’ve only got a few little items, right? They won’t mind.

Yeah, they will. There’s a reason we use the terms butt and ass interchangeably. Your time is no more important than that poor bastard you just cut in front of. You are no more important than anyone else, no matter what your mama told you back when you were four years old. Buttmunch.

Rule 9: Next in line means next in line
There’s five of you in line, but then a new cashier comes in, opens up her register, smiles and says, “I’ll serve the next person in line.” Okay, just to be clear on this, what she really means is, I’ll serve the next person in line. What she definitely doesn’t mean is, I’ll serve the person that can elbow their way here the fastest. What she doesn’t mean is, I’ll serve the asshole who thinks they’re far more important than anyone else next.

I know it sounds crazy, serving the person that’s been in line the longest. But that’s really what they mean. So don’t be that jackass that shows they don’t understand rudimentary English, ‘kay? Jackass.

Rule 10: Don’t leave your cart or your fat ass in the laneway while you pack your groceries
This fits with rule 6. Because you’ve chosen to block the laneway with your cart and your ass while you pack your groceries at a glacial pace, the person behind you can’t even get up to the cash register to pay, even though they’re trying to get out of the way of the dude behind them. And you’re all doopty doopty doo, look at me packing my chocolate chunk cookies! The corollary to this is you getting the hell out of that laneway, but then scooting around to the far side and parking your fat ass in someone else’s way while you’re all doopty doopty doo. Doo-doo head.

Rule 1 Revisited: Don’t block the exit
You’re now heading out of the store. Again, rule 6 still applies. So don’t stop just before, or just after, the exit doors to dig your sunglasses and keys out of your purse. Don’t stop to adjust your junk before you head on out. Don’t stop and choose that moment to put your change/debit card/credit card in your wallet. You’ve made it this far, just keep going, stay the hell out of other people’s way, get to your car, then you can do all that shit. Bunghole.

shopping-cartBonus Rule…Rule 11: Put the cart in the corral
You’ve likely invested a whole quarter for the use of that cart, don’t you want it back? And even if you don’t, the rest of us don’t want to have to dodge the carts scattered willy nilly through the parking lot because you were too frigging lazy to walk it the twenty or thirty feet to the corral. Really, is it that much of a chore? The cart’s empty, it’s light. And besides, this is where you can have fun, putting one foot up on the cart and scoot it up to 15 mph and ride it across the parking lot, the wind blowing wildly through your hair. Yes, you look like a five-year-old, and some other asshole will likely blog about what a shithead you are, but who cares? It’s fun.

Otherwise, you’re just leaving a big chunk of metal around to scratch someone else’s car. Dork.

Rule 0.5: Learn how to back up
You’ve done it! You’ve run the gauntlet, you’ve gotten out alive, hell, you even had a little thrill returning the cart to the corral. Now, you just have to back the vehicle out of the space and get home. So how about this? When you’re backing up, actually look where you’re going. I guarantee that old dude with the walker, or the mother with her child in the cart weren’t really planning on a visit to the Emergency Room because you plowed your back bumper into their fleshy parts. Other cars are running up and down that parking lot. People are walking. Carts are blowing by. So when you back out, ease out, look behind you, look to your left and right to ensure nothing is coming at you, then and only then, can you vacate that space and get your ass gone.

Because, honestly, you wouldn’t want someone calling you a bad name, would you?

Of course not.

Putting the ass in harass

Okay…imagine a couple of people who work from home, pay for their own business lines, and usually get calls from either machines talking about how our credit can be improved, or somebody wanting to clean our carpets and duct work.

Seriously, half the time they can’t even get our names right. I’ve had calls for Elliott Tobin, John Elliott, Tobin Ellis, Tolbin, Tahbin, Tahbeen…Anyway, imagine that environment.annoying-phone-call

Now this happens.

My wife gets a call from a woman who doesn’t identify herself, just asks for Alyssa. The Wife, thinking it’s another sales call, does what she does: states clearly and politely that there is no Alyssa at this number and ends the call.

The woman, having none of it, calls back, demanding Alyssa. Again, the Wife states it’s the wrong number.

She calls back a third time. Now the Wife gets pissy. Seriously, by this time, the woman’s been informed on three occasions she’s got the wrong number and that she’s calling a business line. So, can you blame the Wife for getting pissy?


The next ten or fifteen calls, the Wife just picks up and hangs up. By now, I come in asking what the hell’s going on and I get the story. So I say, “Let me get the next one.”

Surprise surprise, she calls again. “I need to speak to a manager,” she demands. “I just asked a simple question, there was no need to be rude.” When I explained that she lost all sympathy by calling a wrong number multiple times to harass someone, she said, “But, you’re dealing with the public. I’m a health care professional! You have to be polite!”

I then explained, in strong, firm tones, that she’s the one that called the wrong damn number, that this number is not used to deal with the public, and that she’s the one being rude.

And then, dammit, it was only after I hung up that I thought of the better way to handle it.

The way it should have gone was:

“I need to speak to a manager. I just asked a simple question, there was no need to be rude.”

“I am the manager miss, and I apologize for my girl. Normally, the calls come through a different line, so this one caught her off guard. And you have to excuse her, she obviously assumed you came in through the Degradation Line and she was just trying to service you as best she could. Really, she’s quite good at what she does, considering the mouth breathers she usually has to work with.

“Now, if you want, because of your poor experience with 1-900-69 Hotties, I can offer you five free minutes in either our Girl-on-Girl line, or our new line, Whip Me, Beat Me, Make Me Write Bad Cheques line. Personally, I think you’d prefer the second line. But if you have a different sexual preference, I’m open.

“Now, one last matter of business, which can be done the easy way or the…heh…hard way. You can provide the name of the business you’re calling from, or I can *69 your number and get it that way. Personally, I prefer the…heh…69, but I’ll leave it to you. You’ve called 15 times at a rate of $12.95 for the first minute, so, that works out to about $200.  Or would you prefer to keep that between us and give me your MasterCard, Visa or Amex?”

sexy_phoneI’m guessing that would have shut her up. What do you think?