Month: April 2012

One mistake changes everything

Funny thing about old injuries, they are a lot like bad memories, they always come back to haunt you.

In the summer of ’83, on a Monday morning after a weekend of hard rain, I suffered an injury that would haunt me for the rest of my life.

I still remember that morning, the morning  after a weekend rainstorm. Late Sunday evening the rain stopped, and the sky broke into a sea of clear blue. By Monday, the only reminders of the storm  were the damp  ground and the wetness in the tree limbs.  I had been into the last  few months of a summer  job.  Back in the eighties, the province offered  summer jobs to any youth over the age  of 16, and while the jobs didn’t pay  much,  they did offer job experience to young workers who had none.

Since my dad and his dad before him were loggers, I jumped at  the chance to do this job.  The position would  teach basic logging skills, and toughen up  even the meekest of the workforce. The perfect  job for me, I thought,  as  I anxiously accepted this position. I worked on a team of seven, and it was our job to cut a right of way that some surveyors had marked along a survey line, through some  of the most intense forest in western Newfoundland.

The inexperienced crew consisted of three girls and four guys,  along with a seasoned foreman to keep us on the straight and narrow. Albert, or Big Al, as we jokingly called him was a force to recon  with. I don’t think  I seen him smile in all  the three months  I worked  on the job, but when you needed someone  to help you along  or give you life saving tips, he was there  for you.

On this particular Monday morning,  we had to descend a one hundred foot incline, cutting  any trees that grew along the right of way. I was voted to carry the supplies,  which consisted of a  chain  saw and two cans of gasoline. I carefully strapped the cans of gasoline on either shoulder, and carried the chainsaw in one hand, which only gave me one free hand  to  grab various branches and small shrubs to keep from sliding down  the hill. I  walked behind the others, and in the event  that I slipped, I had the other workers to catch me; at least  that was the plan.

Since I had to carry most of the weight,I decided to take  a different path  than the others. (this was a stupid plan) While  I was walking towards the edge of the hill, ready to start  the trip down the mountain, my foot hooked up in an exposed  tree root, and I began  my slide. The ground was still  damp from two days of  intense  rain, and it was as slick as oil.  I worked to discard  the two gas cans, but they were tangled around my shoulders. I threw the chainsaw to the side of the hill, while trying to avoid the sharp  teeth of the chain, and made every attempt to grab a tree or even a branch, but with the two gas cans tied to my shoulders, I had little chance  of slowing  myself down.

I  finally did slow down, a large  tree stump  protruded through the thick underbrush, and since I was now in a lying down  position, I had  two choices. I could continue sliding and hopefully stop myself  by engaging  one of my boots  against the stump, but since my boots  were  soaking wet,  I risked  rupturing myself on the stump; or I could try to lift my feet and avoid damaging the ‘family jewels’. I chose the latter.

I  still  remember the feeling,  as  my tailbone hit hard against the spruce tree stump.  It felt similar  to hitting your funny  bone on your elbow, except that the numbness ran throughout my entire body.  I lay still on  the wet ground, unable to move. I was in such pain that crying out only produced a low whine, and I knew nobody  would be able to hear me. The ground was cold and wet, but none of that mattered, as I was too worried that my 20 year old body would remain here forever, or that I may end up in a wheelchair for the rest  of my life. I tried to move my legs, but nothing worked. I couldn’t even wiggle my fingers. I figured I was finished.

Suddenly I heard  their voices. It seemed like the sound was coming from every direction, and I had no way of responding. I hollered out but still nothing, until  once when all  of a sudden my voice worked. The numbing in  my body stopped, and I was able to get to my feet. Fintan, a towering individual and a god send when we needed  brute strength to move a large tree on the job, was the first to  find  me. “My God,  are you okay?” he asked. “We were looking for you for the past hour” he said. “An hour?” I thought, it didn’t seem like that long,but then  again,  I may have passed out from the pain” I figured.

“You really took a dangerous turn” he joked. “Take my hand” he said,  and then proceeded to throw me over his shoulder like a bag of potatoes, and carry me out  where the others had been waiting.

I was surprised to be able to walk on my own,  and in just a few hours, I was able to keep up with the others, and head back to base camp where the foreman was  waiting  for us. I still regret not obeying Albert’s orders, as he said that I had to go directly to the hospital  when I got home. He worried about the fall I took,  and the possible  damage I suffered,  but I assured him that I felt no pain. “No pain after a fall like  that is the worst thing. It will come back  to bite you!” He said. I should have listened to the old  guy, but  you know 20 year olds, stubborn and think  they know everything.I was no different.

The pain first hit me while working as a logger some  five  years  later. It had  been late November, and the air was stale with dampness. I had done the same  work  as always, which was carrying pulpwood from one  spot to the piling  site, but for  some reason, an intense pain in  my lower back caused me to fall forward. I couldn’t get up.

My dad  came  running over,  very worried about me. “What happened?” he questioned. “I don’t know, but I can’t move!” I said.

The trip out of the woods  was especially painful. Every move  was a different pain,  all in my lower back. To make matters worst, the only way home from the logging site was down a rough road, some 26 miles, on the back of a Yamaha ATV. The bumps in the road were complete  hell, but my dad carefully maneuvered each bump, making the trip home  as painless as possible.

The doctor was very rude, and he scolded  me the entire time I was in his office. “How could you let an injury like this happen  and not come to the hospital?” he demanded. “You twisted your spine.  I don’t know how you manage to walk.” he said. I assured him that I only suffered for a few hours at the time of the incident, and this was the first time I ever had any pain  since  that day. He gave me muscle relaxers and instructed me to take a  few  days off  to recover. I was still young and stupid, and when greeting my worried  father in the car, I lied and told him  that everything was fine.

That was  a long time ago. From time to time, while working as a logger, I would wander off to myself, and bend over and cry from the pain,  but I then gathered myself and continued working. I worked  in the logging industry for fifteen more years since the visit to that doctor, finally  moving on to a different  career  once the pain  became  unbearable.

Yesterday, my girl and I were spreading gravel on our driveway when it hit me. I went  down on my knees from the pain. Since we have been together for the past eight years, my lady is used to those pain attacks of mine, and she instructed me to lie on my stomach while she massaged my lower back until the pain went away. This morning, I visited the local chiropractor and she re-adjusted  my spine, like she has been doing on a regular basis for the past ten years. X-rays have proven  that that accident all those years ago may have twisted  my spine, and that is the reason for all the pain. My chiropractor continuously warns me to take it easy, and I do my best to do so,but I am not one for  lying down and resting while work needs to be done. Call it stubborn or call it stupid, but either way,  I cannot stop, I still have half my driveway to finish before  the rain starts.

Why we live in Newfoundland

Outsiders must wonder why Newfoundlanders choose to remain on the island. Not a lot of work, harsh winters and relatively short summers, and the seclusion of living on an island. Stories like the one in the news today help illustrate why Newfoundland is such a great place to live and raise your family.

http://www.vocm.com/newsarticle.asp?mn=2&id=22508&latest=1

The report tells the story of a small, family run bakery business that lost everything in a terrible fire, and how a competitor in the next community offered them space to run their business while they are rebuilding.

Stories like this are nothing new for residents here on the island. The province is made up of many small communities, and Newfoundlanders are known worldwide for their kindness and good will.

Mary Brown’s Chicken

I admit it, I do eat fast food from time to time. Seeing how today was payday, I decided to treat myself to a dinner filled with sodium, fat, and good taste, so I bought the Big Mary Chicken Sandwich from Mary Browns.

The Big Mary has always been my favorite sandwich. Last time I visited the shop, I was feeling adventurous and decided to try their latest sandwich, the Marytimer, a battered cod fish sandwich. I was not impressed. The fish tasted fishy. I know some will say that fish is supposed to taste fishy, but being a true blue Newfie, I know differently.

Want to know what happens when a chicken-only restaurant decides to sell deep fried fish sandwiches? Everything from then on tastes like fish. I might as well have purchased the Marytimer, at least then I wouldn’t have been eating a chicken sandwich that looked like a chicken sandwich, but tasted like fish. Just saying…

Trifecta: The Pick Up Artist

My old pal Ivan was quite the ladies man. Or at least he thought he was. On one occasion, Ivan tried to show off his prowess by challenging me to a dating contest. His idea was for us to enter a bar, close our eyes and point to a particular woman, and then  approach her and ask her out on a date. The first person to score a date wins.

First of all, you have to know Ivan, or at least someone of his type. He stood no more than five foot tall, with his hair (what was left of it) slicked back with grease like a throwback from the 1950’s, his shirt open in front, exposing his chest hair and his signature ‘Mr. T Starter Kit’ of gold chains; you know the type. If there was a such thing as greaser day,  I am sure Ivan would definitely observe this day.

I actually wrote a post devoted to the antics of my cool little friend, you can check it out at https://sightsnbytes.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/ivan/.

Back to the contest, I went first. I closed my eyes and spun around the room (not realizing how this must have looked in that rough bar) and when I stopped, I pointed my finger to this knockout of a woman.

When I approached my target, I discovered that she was a good friend of the family, and I also knew her boyfriend, a bodybuilder with a bad temper. I returned to the door and told Ivan that it didn’t work out.

Ivan approached his target, and in his usual cocky manner and using his favorite line of “Heaven must be missing an angel” he felt her bottom with his hand. The blonde turned around angrily, and Ivan was in shock when he noticed a black beard accompanying the long blond hair. “Sorry jerk, you are not my type” said the surprised guy.

Ivan never said much, just walked very fast past me and took off  his car.

This is my second entry into this week’s Trifecta Challenge.

Yahoo ruined our tv

While working as a Vonage rep, we had some weird calls. I always seemed to have the worst customers call my line. We had this one couple, from Kentucky.

Customer: “Is this Yahoo?”

Me: “No Ma’am, this is not Yahoo.”

Customer: “Isn’t this 1-800-CallVonage1?”

Me:“Yes it is, but this is Vonage, not Yahoo”

Customer: “Aren’t you the guys with the commercial that says “Yoo Hoo, Yoo Hoo Hoo?””

Me (Laughing) “Yes Ma’am, but we are Vonage, not Yahoo”

Customer: “Then it is you I want to talk to, you F**kers!”

Me: “Excuse me Ma’am, why are you upset with Vonage” (Like there wasn’t a thousand reasons to be upset with Vonage)

Customer: “You ruined our TV set, and it was brand new!”

I was getting very confused right about now, but I decided to keep this going.

Me: “Ma’am, how did Vonage ruin your television set?”

Customer: “Our television was working fine last evening. We set up that stupid Vonage VOIP thingy on our telephone, and this morning, the phone didn’t work, and the television wouldn’t even come on. We called our son in law, and he is smart, he has been in school for years and is in the tenth grade. He couldn’t get the television on either.”

Me: “Ma’am, how are you calling us if your phone isn’t working?”

Customer: “We are calling from a friends house, they don’t have Vonage and their set is working just fine”

Me: “Ma’am, is your television set plugged in?”

Customer: “Do you think I am stupid, of course it was plugged in last night, so it must be plugged in right now!”

Me: “Could you check to see whether the set is plugged in, it may have come loose”

Customer: “What do you think, I am superman? I can’t see a damn thing, the electricity has been off all morning. How am I going to see whether the plug is in the outlet?

I was speechless.

Me: “Ma’am, ( Her husband now cursing and swearing in the background, their son in law yelling loudly at me from behind this missus’ head.) you couldn’t get your Vonage phone working, which runs off the computer modem, which was electric. The Television wouldn’t work, it too was electric, and the electricity was out at the time. How could any of this be Vonage’s fault?

Customer: “Now you did it, Vonage also ruined our electricity, we are going to hire one of those big city lawyers and sue the ass right off damn Yahoo”

Me: “You do that Ma’am, best of luck with that!”

Customer: “Click”

The sad lesson here is even with all the technology out there today, you still can’t fix STUPID!

Trifecta: Sadie Hawkins Day

When I was a kid, I hated Sadie Hawkins Day. I especially hated the Annual Sadie Hawkins Dance. This was an event in which girls asked the guys to dance with them, and maybe go out on a date together.

One of the school stipulations was that us guys were not allowed to say ‘No’.. I always wondered why our school chose to observe this day.

I often imagined how cool it would be if one of the hot girls from school asked me out. That didn’t happen, instead, the braces-wearing, greasy haired girls who had remained hidden from public view came out of the woodwork to claim their latest victims.

I remember one girl in particular, Margarete, nicknamed ‘The Onion’, asked me for a dance. The girl got her nickname from a particular odor that followed her everywhere. She really did smell like onions. Anyway, I was managing quite well at the dance, I actually managed a few dances with almost hot girls, when out of nowhere she came…Onion pushed her way through the tinier girls, almost plowing them down so that she could get closer to me and my friends.

“Tom here wants to dance with you. He might even kiss you!” I volunteered to the onion. I was always a good friend to Tom, and helping him find his future bride, and avoiding a dance with her was my duty on this night, or at least I felt like it was.

“No, I would rather dance with you” she said, while looking into my horrified eyes.

I was lucky that the dance was a fast one, but she still tried to hold me close, and despite my attempts to push her away, the onion smell managed to suck the energy out of me. I was being held by the onion lady.

“So, now that we danced, how about we go to the movie Friday?” she asked, in an oniony sort of way.

“Can’t, got an assignment to do” I lied.

This is my first entry into this week’s Trifecta Challenge. The word is Observe.

 

Robotmen working at Canada Revenue Service

First off, I am not a racist, but I have to make one GIANT complaint about the Canadian Government. Whenever you call any government office, especially Internal Revenue, you get a Pakistani representative. I cannot understand one word they utter, and most of the representatives have the worst phone manners I have ever witnessed. C’mon, this is Canada. We have that much unemployment in our country, and we have our government office phones manned (or womened) by foreigners.

It gets even worst when you try to reason with these reps. They are simply reading script from a computer screen, so they cannot answer any questions that they do not see. Hell, I get the same response from reading the screen myself.

The other day, my mom attempted to have Dad’s address changed on his income tax information. His tax return is being delayed because some representative mistakenly erased his address from his file. My dad suffers from major hearing loss, and his hearing aids do not function very well when he uses the phone. My mom tried to talk to a representative, but he would not give her access to the information because she was not my father. Dad even got on the phone and gave his permission to the rep, so that she could speak on his behalf. “I am sorry, but you not Mr. White” said the Robotman.  “This is Mr White, and I give my wife permission to speak on my behalf” My dad said. “I am sorry, but she is not Mr. White” Robotman said.

The reps have no empathy at all. He would not let her make any changes, and since my dad’s hearing and his understanding of the Pakistani language sucks, he was forced to hang up the phone. I had to call and pretend to be him. “Mr White, you do not sound the same. This is not Mr White, you cannot access the information” Said the Robotman again.

For the love of sweet heaven, get those robots off the line, and put on someone with a good Canadian accent. Even better, how about a true blooded Newfie? At least we can be understood most of the time!

Thats my rant for the day!

The Horny Customer

While working at a call center, we had this one customer call in, and I must admit, I was quite the joker on that day. Her name was Mandy Horney.

Me: “Can I have your last name please?”

Customer: “Horney”

Me: “No Mam, I am working and I keep this professional. Now  can I have your last name please?”

Customer: “Horney”

Me (getting frustrated): “No Mam, I am not horny, I am trying to help you out. I need your last name so that I may access your account. I don’t want to discuss my sex life with you, I just want your last name!”

Customer (getting even more frustrated): “My last name is Horney, H.O.R.N.E.Y!”

Me: “Your last name is Horny? That’s so cool. So are you?”

Miss Horney: “Am I what?”

Me: “Horny”, “Are you Horny?”

Miss Horney: “No, I am not, that’s my last name.”

Me: “Your last name is horny? Horny? How is that a last name? Are you kidding me? Is this a joke?”

Miss Horney: “Horney, Horney, I am Horney”

Me: “Ma’am, I don’t want to discuss your sex life, I just need your last name so that I can access your account.

Miss Horney: “Click”

Me: “Hello, Hello?”