My weirdest boss ever…

It was 2004 and I’d just moved the kids and I to a high rise complex. Then I got a job at the doughnut store across the street. It was almost perfect. There was a daycare in our building so I just took the kids downstairs and walked across the street. I could be there in under five minutes. The only problem was my boss. He was beyond weird. One day, or even one moment, he’d be jubilant, praising me to the skies for something that was perfectly normal, like mopping a slushy floor.

“You’re my best employee,” he’d exclaim, “The best employee ever.”

Then he’d flip and he’d start literally offering me to his customers.

“She’s useless, absolutely useless! Take her… take her!!!”

The customers would shuffle awkwardly then hurry for the door as soon as their order was complete.

Then one day I came in for my shift and went to work at the cash only to be told he didn’t want me to work there, which was my usual spot. So I moved to the bagel counter and was told the same thing. So I asked where he wanted me to work.

“Nowhere,” he retorted, “you’re fired!”

A short while later I went in to get my last paycheque. I found it lying on the floor under the shelf they usually sat, marred with foot prints. He’d literally stomped all over it. He asked if I had a job yet, even though it had only been a week, and smiled when I told him no.

A year went by and I found work at a call centre representing a major internet provider. It wasn’t the best job but I was making $12/hr and was only a few months away from getting benefits. The kids and I were going out shopping one morning and just missed the bus. We could have gone home to wait but the kids wanted bagels so we walked across the street and went inside. The boss’s wife was behind the counter. She was quiet but polite, as usual. We ate our bagels then the kids asked for doughnuts. And that was when the boss came in.

He pushed his wife aside without a word and took our order. His face was like sunshine and his grin beamed.

“So, do you have a job yet?” he asked. His grin said he expected the answer to be no.

My smile widened until it was almost as big as his. “Yes, I have,” I replied and his smile disappeared.

“I’ve got a full time job with major internet service provider,” I continued. “I make $12 an hour and I’ll have benefits in a couple more months.”

He didn’t even say a word. He spun around and stalked into the back of the store. I figured he was going to his office. His wife took over the order and quickly completed it. Then she looked up and said, “Oh!” in surprise before running out of the store. I looked up too in order to see him in his partly backed out car while she urgently talked through the window.

He was so mad at me that I’d moved on in my life and got a better job than the one he’d offered that he had stormed out of the building. Even though he’d just arrived. Even though he hadn’t so much as said “hi” to his wife.

We walked out the door in silence then Kait looked up from her doughnut and said, “Mom, that man’s really weird!”

I laughed. “You don’t even know the half of it.”

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Three more weeks…

In three more weeks I’ll be sitting in a hotel hot tub with my family, laughing and joking while we wait for our morning flight. Our bags will be packed and whatever’s forgotten… well it’ll be too late to pack it now.

Today I went to Value Village with friends of mine to look for resort clothes. I didn’t have much luck. Most of the shorts were gym shorts, which are fine for the gym but hardly useful to wear to lunch. Thankfully I found a pair of shorts, two short skirts, and one sundress.

clothes for vacation

Lara kept trying to eat the sequins

So much is uncertain in my life right now. The people at CMHA keep alternating between talking about the apartment like it’s certain to be mine then telling me it’s tentative. Getting a subsidy here is tentative too. Blackie eats well usually then goes for a day without eating. The one certainty I’ve got right now is this trip.

I am so looking forward to getting away on this trip. Swimming in the ocean, lying on a beach chair, enjoying a simple but yummy meal. Singing karaoke with my sisters. It’s coming. Slowly but surely it’s coming.

And, speaking of karaoke, this is one of the songs I’m practising for the vacation. As you can tell, there’s one line that needs a bit more practise.

Turn around bright eyes…

I gently stroked my hands down Blackie’s back, paying close attention to the prominence of her spine and how her hips sunk in. And I thought to myself, “Oh no, not again.”

Last year my clue had been how awkwardly she curled up to rest. I hadn’t noticed the weight loss until then. Black fluffy fur hides a multitude of sins and she prefers head scratches, not over all pets. This year was different. I knew the vet couldn’t offer much other than an appetite enhancing injection and a can of food Blackie hates. Plus I was still feeding the cats wet food that she liked.

I immediately separated a portion of each can for Blackie, microwaving it for 15 seconds so she could smell it better, adding a tiny bit of water so she could lap up more, and serving it in a different room. At the beginning she needed to be coaxed to eat. I had to carry her bowl and her to my room, often after searching out her hiding place. Then I’d have to follow her around the room with the bowl until she finally got tired of running and started to eat. Every time she startled she’d bolt from the bowl and needed to be coaxed back. And she startled at the smallest things, a slight foot movement could send her running.

She’s still skinny but she’s moved up to eating half a can now and is hurrying to the room to be fed. She’s also eating her whole meal, something she wasn’t doing even a few days ago. I’m so glad she’s turned around. She’s 12 years old but she’s still feisty and I’d like her to be here for years to come!

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The cutest excuses for an unmade bed ever!

Colin’s Go Fund Me…

I was walking through the park with one of my caseworkers in December when she paused, looking like she had some bad news.

“I don’t know how to tell you this,” she started. “The housing list has slowed to a stop. There’s no new units and no one’s getting placed. They’ve closed the list entirely, no new people can get on. You’re looking at another two or three years wait at least.”

What could I say to that? It’s not like she could pull an apartment out of a hat for me. And, besides, it would give us time to save, not our haphazard saving where we put $50 away for moving then use it for groceries, but real saving.

Three weeks later I got a call from someone I didn’t recognize. He turned out to be the housing manager and he had a one bedroom apartment for me alone, available this summer. Which is great for me but Colin needs to find a place too. Not only that but he needs to save last month’s rent and a moving van. I don’t need last month’s rent.

We’re looking but it’s going to be hard. So many rooms have high expectations. Must be female… over fifty… have two positive reviews from landlords… good credit rating… full time job. He wanted to move into the building behind us but was told by disability he’d be kicked off if he did because, at $875/m, it was too expensive. Most one bedrooms are over a thousand dollars. And, of course, he needs money. Landlords don’t take promises, they want cold, hard cash. And he doesn’t have that. That’s where you come in. I’m hoping that anyone who can afford it will donate something, no matter how small. And if you can’t donate, please share. Right now Colin is so anxious and this will help.

Thank you!

Colin’s Go Fund Me Account

So many emotions!!!

It feels like it was weeks ago but it was only yesterday that I got the call. A stranger introduced himself then explained he was with the housing department of CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association). Was I interested in an apartment? It was a new unit in a building that wouldn’t be completed until July or August… in Bowmanville.

I was all yes, yes, yes until he got to the town. Bowmanville is two towns to the east of us. We used to pick apples at a farm there that was surrounded by fields then and is surrounded by houses and big box stores now. That’s all I knew about it. A quick look at Google Maps showed me I’d be able to walk to the farm but I needed to know more than that.

I love Google Maps and used them so much before Colin and I moved here. And now I’m using them again. There’s a Wal-Mart and a Superstore (a Canadian grocery store) within walking distance… and a Dollarama. I need to have a Dollarama! I didn’t bother looking much further because stores can change so quickly. My Mom and I will drive up there soon enough and we can see what’s local.

There’s a gym a fair hike down the street and a COPE office right near my place so I might be able to go on the walking track and in the pool there and I might be able to join some groups through COPE. That’s too many “mights” for me but I should have answers soon.

And, finally, the bus. I’ll be able to take the bus westward to visit the kids and my parents and to the east to visit L. And I’ll still have my relatively cheap Access Pass to visit them with.

It all sounded good so I called the office this morning and told them I was taking the unit. Then Colin called disability to ask if he could get a form to claim obesity. If you’re fat they’ll give you $50 a month to improve your diet. Colin’s hoping he qualifies because $50 more for food would be a huge help. While he was on the phone, he mentioned that he was looking at the building behind our current apartment because it’s only $895 for a one bedroom. And he was quickly informed he’d get kicked off disability if he moved there because he’d be paying too much for rent and wouldn’t have enough for food. Which doesn’t make sense to me because if he got kicked off he’d haveĀ no money for food at all.

So now we’re taking up juggling. We need to save for moving trucks and last month’s rent while finding an affordable but clean unit for Colin. He’s already planning on asking if he could get into my building, even though I’ve explained it’s all subsidy and the people on the list will get spaces first.

I hadn’t expected to be moving this quickly. I was told right after Christmas that I had about a two or three year wait, which would have given us plenty of saving time. Now we’re really going to have to pinch pennies and each as cheaply as we can. Lentils, pasta, and I are going to become really well acquainted.

August will arrive in due time and I’m sure all these issues will long be sorted out by then. But, until then, I’ll be a bit of happy, excited, nervous, and antsy while I juggle agencies, finances, apartments, and moving dates. The next few months are going to be interesting.

 

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A boy went past me today and said, “Hello Mrs Rainbow Lady” I certainly can live with that as a name!

A simple act of kindness…

I noticed his eyes first, rheumy blue with a vacant gaze. The bright orange safety vest was obvious, I’ve seen several seniors wearing them lately. Then I noticed the cane he clutched with both hands. With that, I turned my attention away, back to my conversation with Kait.

A few minutes later, the man across the aisle from me crouched down on the floor in front of the senior. His shoes were untied, something I hadn’t noticed. The man tied them both neatly then the senior looked down at his newly tied shoes and gave the man a shaky wave. And that was that.

Several years ago I was on the bus going to work. It was pitch black outside and freezing. My main goal was to warm up beside the heater. The driver stopped at the bus stop and I looked up, noticing a car in a nearby parking lot with the indoor lights on. An elderly man emerged, briefcase in hand, and started running toward the stop just as the last person boarded. Then it happened. His feet hit an ice patch and went right up in the air before he crashed down hard. I lept from my seat and yelled to the driver to stay and that a man had just fallen.

The man was obviously sore but just wanted to get on the bus. I tried to help him up and couldn’t. Thankfully a big, heavily tattooed man got off the bus and came over to help. Between the two of us he was lifted to his feet and (thankfully) he was able to walk to the waiting bus.

Random acts of kindness happen all the time. Lifting a row of seats up so a passenger in a wheelchair can board the bus safely. Paying a teen’s fare. Helping carry a senior’s groceries to the car. Our world is made more beautiful with each act.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of assuming that most of the world is filled with horrible people, even though that’s not the case. I think media plays a big role in this. Drama and shock sell so they write articles about things that are dramatic and shocking, which means that’s all people see and read. Then people assume that’s all there is out there. But it’s not.

We need to pay attention to what’s going on around us. The young mother interacting with her baby, the senior’s little dog who patiently waits for his owner’s faltering steps, even though it means taking a tiny step and waiting a minute. All the myriad of volunteers. This world is nowhere near as bad as we think. We just need to take the time to notice the good. We need to be the good.

be the good

Letting go of the past…

Head’s up: My ex and I have multiple friends together. I don’t care if you’re friends with him, best friends with him, or engaged to him. Congratulations on the latter. He’s a decent person who deserves friends and loved ones. I don’t want you to have to choose sides… I’d really rather you don’t. This is purely my opinion of my own relationship with him. Thank you for understanding.

It felt like we were perfect for each other. We both loved cats and each had three. We had similar tastes in music and veganism. In fact he converted back to being vegan while we were friends. We both loved to read and enjoyed Doctor Who. And we were both creative, me with writing and him with jewelry making. Several years went by as we slowly started talking more and more. By the time he asked me out as his girlfriend we were talking all day, every day, from the moment I got up to the moment I went to bed. The only time we weren’t talking was when I was at work and, even then, we talked at every break. I even messaged at family gatherings.

my-dressWe made our relationship Facebook official within minutes of deciding to date and had our wedding roughly sketched out by our one month anniversary, something I’d carefully recorded in my calendar. My dress was bought by our two month anniversary, a lovely pastel pink and gold one, with enough sparkle for me and room for my boyfriend’s lace butterflies. I bought tickets to go meet him for that October and started counting down the days with an app. He immediately bought tickets to go see Wicked in London and informed me he would be singing all the songs. I assured him that chances are I’d end up singing them too. I pick up songs very quickly.

I look back at that time and remember how perfect everything felt then. I wasn’t lonely. How could I be with a boyfriend I talked to all the time? One who knew all my secrets. And soon I was going to have a dream vacation, followed by a dream wedding, and a move to Richmond, England. Me, the woman who, other than my first two months of life, had only ever lived in Whitby and Oshawa. And now I was going to move across the ocean. It was going to be an adventure.

The adventure came quickly to an end the day after he promised he wasn’t breaking up with me and two days after I confessed I was suicidal. The words didn’t seem real for a moment. Then I couldn’t breathe. He was breaking up with me? But he promised he wouldn’t.

We went back to friendship but it wasn’t like before, even though we still messaged regularly, and he blocked me a couple of months later with this message:

Well, I told you. It was your self fulfilling prophecy and you were the one pushing me away for daring to grow and change, so now, I am done.

Even at the end he couldn’t accept responsibility for his actions. Instead he blamed it on me. I was hurt enough to archive his message thread so I didn’t accidentally find it but that also made it really easy to find. Several years later I scrolled through to find a bit of information and was floored at the gaslighting and manipulation. It was not a healthy relationship at all. It took a while longer for me to realize that messaging with anyone constantly throughout the day isn’t healthy and while the relationship wasn’t good for me, it wasn’t good for him either.

I blocked him on Facebook this week which is something I would never have believed back in 2016. Then I figured he’d unblock me within weeks, months at the most. At this point I’m reasonably sure he’ll never unblock me and I finally, honestly, don’t care. I wish him all the best in his future and am simply relieved that future will not include me.

not my baggage