Thursday, June 17, 2004

What's the Magic Word?

Some days you just want to give in.
Some days it just starts bad, and then it’s all downhill from there.
I had to get up early this morning to take my car in for the Drive Clean test – step one in a multi-part paper chase that will end in triumph when I can then toddle on down to some inconveniently located and inadequately staffed outpost of the department of motor vehicles to renew my plates. It’s a test, which by the way, if the government could afford to put out the information on it would not be happening at all; sometime previous to the announcement that the provincial government was in debt to the tune of 5! Point! 6! Billion! Dollars! (all the fault of the former Tory gang) was the announcement that the test would be scrapped. But since through staff layoffs and cutbacks the government can no longer afford to tell us this, the test continues… Your tax dollars at work.
So I get the car into the local Canadian Tire – the second trip natch, the first being yesterday when they screwed up my appointment – and girded myself for the long walk home… in the rain… (I foolishly brought the dog, who went from happy bright eyed adventurer, to pathetic rain-soaked victim of neglect in the space of two short blocks.)
The walk wasn’t that bad until the heel on my shoe snapped only halfway home. I abandoned my ingenious plan for picking up a cup of tea on the way, figuring a rain soaked barefoot woman with a shivering muddy-pawed Victim of Neglect would likely put the fear of God into the Rosedale matrons and matronettes fueling up at the local Starbucks. (They’re a judgmental crowd at the best of times – just mental at others.)
So I kept going – and eventually stumbled in the door. But achieving sanctuary was not going to provide the peace and happiness I yearned for. Moments after getting in and making a beeline for the kitchen and a cuppa (de-bagged too soon, it was bound to be weak) came the call from Canadian Tire.
“Bad news ma’am.” He honestly started the conversation this way. A mechanic with my car in his care and my well being in his power to affect actually began by telling me the news was bad.
“Well,” he amplified, “it’s bad in two ways: your exhaust needs replacing before we can do the Drive Clean test, but even then, we can’t do the test, because our machine isn’t working.”
I took a sip of tea. Did I say weak? It was nearly helpless.
“What do you plan to do?”
There followed a distressing interval in which his English and my temper were soon lost, but eventually we were able to agree that the exhaust would be fixed and after that – well, who knew?
I began not to care.
After all, I was still recovering from the previous day’s bad vibe – an enforced viewing of Jennifer Dale’s one woman soporific ‘Duse’ at the Terragon Theatre. (I don’t know that I can adequately describe the combination of horror and ennui produced by the two act paen to self indulgence, but suffice it to say that it was just as bad and boring as you’re probably imagining right now. And to make matters worse, the tale of the legendary actress of understatement was delivered with a level of scenery chewing unheard of since Norma Desmond took a crack at ‘Salome’. All of this might have been fine – fun even: when you’re watching something that dire, there’s endless opportunities for a giggle with a good friend. Sadly, the friend and I were seated practically in the laps of the actress’s mother and celebrated sister Jennifer, so all we could do was kick each other’s ankles and poke each other in the ribs, mentally bookmarking some of the worst transgressions for later picking and bitching.)
When I hung up from the empathy-challenged torturer who refused to even speculate when the Drive Clean machine might be functioning again, I picked up my morning paper for a cruise through the headlines. A welcome distraction I was thinking, as I popped water in the microwave to be heated for another cup of tea, only to achieve that distraction moments later by a pop and a sizzle that indicated my microwave (purchased exactly the period of the guarantee plus one day ago at Canadian Tire…) had decided to call it a day.
But did this latest inconvenience send me hurtling toward despair? It did not. That happened when I began reading the paper, drinking the defenseless (and now tepid) tea, and discovered that the liberal party had journeyed beyond the rock bottom expectation of squeaking through with a threadbare victory, to end up somewhere in the neighbourhood of quite possibly bypassing that, and missing even a minority government altogether.
So as I sit here this morning, with neither shoe nor microwave, nor dog, nor car, nor peace of mind, nor hot beverage, nor artistic sensibility, nor tax dollars, nor government secure, I wonder: why was it I got up this morning? And the capper? It’s only 11 a.m.
What’s the magic word? Uncle!

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