Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Morning Drive

Something unusual happened to me this morning during my drive to work. Someone cut me off.

Now that wasn’t the unusual part. Some self important dingbat whose exigent occupation demands he is the lead sheep in the morning commute will cut me off every other morning, and he usually does it with a cell phone in one hand and a Tim Horton’s coffee in the other.

This morning was different because the twat who cut me off had neither a cell phone nor a cigarette, nor was she doing her make up: she just made a mistake. A mistake that had me slamming on the breaks and swerving into oncoming traffic (the clearer lane than the one to my right) to avoid a collision. Once I had had set the car to rights, I continued onward, shaking with anger and adrenalin, and cursing the little silver car now ahead of me on my right side. I could see the lights ahead turning red and a realized in seconds I would be right beside my reckless road mate.

I rolled down the passenger side window, I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to say, but you can be sure it was going to be peppery, and spiteful, and righteous and…

She rolled down her window, (the NERVE!) and said:

“I am sorry I cut you off, my mind was somewhere else” She shrugged. She was red faced, and was waiting for my response.

And I was slack jawed.
Cut off at the knees.
My anger had nowhere to go.

“Uh, Ok thanks.”

What else could I say? This was so unlike other encounters I had with drivers who through carelessness or error had almost caused an accident. Usually it went down like this: I bang my horn at them, they give me the finger. That is best case scenario. Worst case: they yell at me because I have the audacity to be pissed about being bullied by a 3000 pound vehicle with 200 pound of asshole at the wheel.

And then I thought about how much time I would spend stewing over said example asshole’s transgression. You can multiply my stewing by a factor of 1000 if my son was in the car at the time. The rest of my drive becomes a tense, nervous exercise, with me silently cussing the whole drive until I arrived at my destination; where the first person who could fog a mirror would be assaulted by the entire story. How much easier would the drive and the rest of my day be if the offenders put their hands up and said sorry?

She did, and in an instant changed how I viewed the situation and my reaction to it. She completely diffused my anger and instead engendered empathy. I saw her in terms of my life. She was probably tired, rushed, thinking about paying bills, worrying about work, children, maybe wondering about a sick parent. Who was I to say?

We all get busy. We all get a little self important. And we all screw up.

But oh how few of us own up.

Thank-you lady in the silver car. Drive safe.

Friday, February 13, 2009

My Town

It is hard to be away from home. Sometimes I find myself moping about it, and when I do I seem to do things to make the melancholy worse. Kind of like picking at the hangnail you have on your finger until it bleeds.

Yesterday was one of those days.

The last run of paper at the GrandFalls-Windsor Mill was completed yesterday. All that is left to do is dismantle the old gal. I found myself in a bit of a funk. To make myself feel better I decided to podcast the Here and Now, I had heard a family friend had been interviewed about the shut down.

As you can imagine the report did little to improve my spirits.

The first shot is a wide one on the mill, a lone worker heads towards the doors, the smoke stacks sending plumes into the air. Across the bottom of the screen scrolled the text “The end of an Era”. Yes, CBC, that and much more. It could be the end of a town.

I was already a little weepy when the shot changed to the men carrying their lunch baskets, perhaps the very ones their father or brother carried years before them carried. I thought of the times my Grandma had packed a lunch in a basket very much like those from my uncles and Grandfather. Filled it with strong tea, cooked dinners, tea biscuits and cookies, filled it with love. Sometimes one of the many siblings was dispatched to bring down a forgotten lunch or maybe a snack to someone who had taken an extra shift. I guess it is hard for a reporter who did not live in that town to pick up on that little detail, but I sure did.

When the reporter Lee Pitts asked Don Beson about the closure and he compared it to a death in the family. Mr. Pitts spotted people taking video and pictures and asked one of them, Pauline Price, why she was recording the mill. Pauline, her voice was a little shaky with emotion, described how many of her family and friends worked there. Indeed, you can trace nearly everyone in GrandFalls-Windsor to that mill somehow.

And that is a problem.

You have a large section of the population in GFW directly or indirectly employed by AbitibiBowater and now those jobs are gone. While in recent months there was a lot of focus on Danny taking back the rights to Star Lake, and about the Union failing to cut a deal, about Abitibi failing to offer one worth taking, there has been relatively very little said about plans to fill that gaping void. Where is that press conference? Where is the big action plan to address that? What is Danny doing to attract industry? What is GFW doing?

I can tell you that families who lost work in GFW are doing a little action planning; they can’t sit around and wait for government to step in. Those young enough are thinking about going back to school, and re-training. Others are wondering if they can move into town and find something. Many others are thinking about trying their luck out west. Out west. What a surprise.

I keep hearing Newfoundland is a “Have Province” now. I hear Danny talk about bringing people back home- home to Newfoundland to work. I have heard a lot of talk about skilled workers leaving the province- but Jesus, what is back home to keep them there?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

See, going to the Dentist can be fun.

Caught this video of a stoned "David after the Dentist" on You Tube and could not stop laughing. Wow, that is some heavy duty use of anesthetic.

Poor kid.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A new favourite of mine

I just had to share this with all you Newfoundlanders (and Newfoundlander wannabees) who may not have heard Colleen Power. She has a great collection of songs. Her lyrics are often witty, her music is reflective of the Newfoundland soul, and her stage presence suggests that she doesn't take it all too seriously. Her recent video for New Townie Man had me laughing out loud.

Check it out: Colleen Power singing New Townie Man: