The Great (Keswickian) Escape!

Ashley has been monumental in facilitating my daring escape from Keswickian solitude. Upon hearing of my desperate need to return to city life, she informed her friend Brad (a store manager) that my services as a supervisor extraordinaire would be available should he happen to need them. In short, I’m trying to get a transfer. Rather than go through the stress and headache (stressache?) of quitting my job and finding another, with the inevitable months of difficult financial choices in between (toilet paper vs. a can of soup, for instance), I’ve elected to just transfer to a different location. I’m lucky enough to be employed by a massive coffee chain that allows its employees to change locations. I won’t name names, just in case I should gripe about something here and jeopardize my livelihood.

Today, as I was blissfully falling asleep on the thirty minute commute home, I received an important telephone call. I opened my eyes, wiped my embarrassingly open mouth, and answered the phone. It seems that Brad has passed along my info to a peer of his named Ricky. Ricky is in dire need of a supervisor, and it just so happens that my wide-open availability coincides with the position he’s trying to fill. See, there are advantages to having no life at all — your job options are nearly infinite when you’re a workaholic. (Insert unoriginal joke about “workahol” here.)

Ricky took down my info and promised to facilitate things from his end. Phone calls to be made, red tape to cut through, you get the drift. I had begun to worry that my move would be less than peaceful and I’d end up struggling to make ends meet for the first little while. There’s nothing scarier to me than facing a month’s rent when you’ve no food and no one to hit up for cash. It’s happened before and I’d really rather it never happen again. Now I say tentatively, things are looking up!

Of course, this is definitely bittersweet. Word is beginning to spread around work that I’m leaving. Genuine or not, my coworkers have expressed regret at my departure and I feel very much the same. I’ve been at this particular job for nearly seven months but given the obscene amount of time I spend there, I feel like my coworkers are a little family. I feel wistful when I think of Andrew randomly yelling out “DINOSAUR” (you had to be there to get that one), or the spontaneous drive-thru dance parties in which everyone is an active participant. Even the bad days are better when you’re surrounded by people who exemplify the word “teamwork”. But I won’t get sappy. I’m too manly for that, as many of the guys I work with will attest to.

Transitions are always difficult. In the past, I would cut all ties and run, feeling very little remorse. Many of my friendships have faded away just from my sheer laziness. I could make more of an effort, really. Call or visit, or send a cheesy Facebook message. My ex-roommate (and forever sister, as far as I’m concerned) Lesley would agree. She sends me countless messages (and threats) telling me I need to visit more. And she’s right! I’ve barely seen her and her babies in the time I’ve lived up north. Most of my time is spent at work or falling asleep on public transit.

Workahol. That stuff’s the devil’s poison.

So I’m faced with a daunting task: packing. Anyone who has ever moved can tell you how horrifying this is. You don’t realize how much useless junk you have until you’re shoving it haphazardly into boxes held together with tape and prayers. So I’ve adopted an extremely progressive approach. I call it “Throw That Shit Out, Jen. You Don’t Use It Anyway.” (My PR team is trying to come up with a catchier slogan. Give them time.) You get the point.  “Travel light” has become my motto, epecially since this will be my 19th move. At this point leaving things behind is an inevitability. Now all I have to do is overcome my crippling habit of procrastination.

I’m uncertain whether it was something in the air or just plain old Friday madness, but I managed to mess up no less than six drive-thru orders. The steps are simple, as anyone who’s ever worked in any kind of drive-thru can tell you. You greet, take order, repeat and confirm order, announce the total and that’s it. It’s not always that smooth, however, when people are in a rush (because of course they’ve got somewhere IMPORTANT to be) or when they just completely neglect to comprehend the words coming out of the magical speaker box.

Me: Hi, welcome to [Name of Cafe Which Employs Me], what can we get for you today?
Dude: Yeah, can I get a latte, a chai latte, and a coffee?
Me: Of course, so that’s a latte, a chai latte, and a coffee? **I made sure to enunciate and speak very slowly, like talking to a small child but without the Shiny Happy tone.**
Dude: Yeah.
Me: All right, anything else for you today?
Dude: **Silence**
Me: …OK, your total is $$$, come on up.

Maybe ten minutes later, Dude came back through the DT saying he’d gotten the wrong drink. He’d wanted an iced tea, not a coffee. Somehow, although I clearly stated “COFFEE” not “ICED TEA”, and at the window, he had received a hot drink as opposed to a cold one, he failed to notice this until afterward. I’d love to know why the general public insists on having its head firmly planted up its nether regions and then complains when mistakes occur. Think about it.

Customer service slaves are all very very familiar with this startling phenomenon.

My boyfriend cheered me up around 10AM by calling to say he loved me and then informing me that his father Roger (aka Jer’s Dad) had left him $20 pinned to the kitchen wall with a steak knife. Roger is a French-speaking, old-school Nova Scotian. How he has managed to survive this long while continuing to party harder than most 21-year-olds is beyond me. He’s gruff, and loud when he’s drunk. I once found myself the proud owner of a discount ukulele and Jer’s Dad took great pleasure in “tuning” it — that is to say, he strummed it, then tightened the strings, then sang a few bars of a made-up song, then repeated this process until two of the four strings snapped. Strings are replacable. The memory of Jer’s Dad laughing as he made up his own ukulele songs is not.

I have a reputation for attracting strange characters. As I explained to my mother the other day over Tim Horton’s weak coffee and crispy paninis, they seem to seek me out and always have. I once met a man and I woman, we’ll call them Petey and Pina. Petey was an avid herb smoker (don’t look at me like that, you know damn well which herb I mean) with a dog named Sherlock. Pina was a recovering alcoholic/anorexic with self-esteem issues. Both of them were well over forty, and both took pleasure in talking behind each other’s backs. I, of course, was privy to these conversations.

I was invited to Petey’s house one time and since he always had the good shit, I went. I showed him how to load songs onto his iPod and he gave me some guitar picks and a joint for the road. While we sat at his miniature kitchen table in his extraordinarily clean apartment, he told me he was well aware of Pina’s feelings for him. “She likes me,” he explained. “She’s a nice lady, and she’s my friend, but she’s kind of an older lady and I’m not into that.” As the air grew increasingly toxic from our respective cigarettes, he asked me if I knew of any comely middle-aged single women who might be interested in a man like him. I can’t remember now what I said, but it was probably something along the lines of “I’ll keep an eye out.” And I probably stuttered.

Before I hit the road, he asked me to bring Sherlock to Pina’s for the night. When I asked for directions, he simply told me to follow Sherlock. Imagine my surprise when he opened the apartment door and the tiny dog went bolting out into the street. I had to run to keep up with him.

That’s how I found myself eating homemade pizza in Pina’s house with her and her ex-husband. The pizza was good, but the entire situation was awkward. After Pina’s ex left, she informed me of just how in love with Petey she was. “He came over and spent the night one time. He slept in my bed with me, but nothing happened. Too bad for me.” As images of Petey and Pina doing the nasty danced in my head, I swallowed a lump of pizza. The most intellectual response I could think of was “Ah.” That’s how I became the world’s worst matchmaker and flunked my way through Cupid School.

I smoked the joint immediately after I left to calm my frazzled nerves.

That was a weird day. I hope to meet such colorful characters in my new home, and I hope to write about them. I also can’t help but wonder if Pina ever made it with Petey.

And I wonder if Sherlock watched.

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Sorting out my life by writing about it.

2 thoughts on “The Great (Keswickian) Escape!

  1. Greetings! Very useful advice within this post! It is the little changes that produce the most significant changes. Thanks for sharing!

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