Do you remember the first time you housesat for someone? Even I recall that, and most fondly! Forget about all of the Hollywood-type housesitting movies, with the escaped serial killer raiding a pyjama party!
George was my boss at the Acadia University library when I was a student and had a part-time job there. Halliwell is his last name. I had applied for a part-time job on campus because part-time work off campus for me back then would be things like wrapping hamburgers at Burger King. Just because I had been one of the first people in my family to go on to university (let alone finish high school), I decided I was too good to work at places like Burger King ever again.
Killing time between my classes and my studies now meant pulling some shifts working in the serials department at the university library, with George and Paulette as my bosses. Library science is probably something I'd study if I had it to do all over again, but working in the serials section was more fun than it probably should have been for someone in my field of study. Many a day and night and weekend I'd spend hour after hour serving the public, or putting away magazines, or tidying the newspapers ("How do you tidy so many papers so quickly?", George once asked me. "I get mad at them", I replied).
(Now, don't get me wrong: It was not ever going to be a career for me; my main field of study was something else entirely. )
One day, George told me that he and his lovely wife Ann would be going on vacation and would I like to housesit for them? "Please consider it", I remember George saying, "because it would be a good experience for you".
Quirky lad that I was, I agreed to do it, and it was a good experience for me.
Really, I had no basis in reality to compare this to. Sure, I had done some chores around the house for my parents, but this was the first time I'd be all on my own, by myself (I wasn't dating then), and I have to admit, that first night in that house by myself in the guest bedroom was pretty scary for me. That was the hard part.
Under normal circumstances, that summer I'd go to my job at the library from my parents' place a short distance away. Varying that schedule by walking from George and Ann's to that place of work meant I could enjoy a walk through downtown Wolfville twice a day, and even walk to the theatre at night to see a movie.
Working that summer of 1984 while housesitting in a house that had cable tv service and an intellivision game console was more fun that I thought it would be. Xerxes Aalders was George's neigbhour; he showed me how to start up their lawnmower when I struggled with the starting mechanism. Yes, I made other mistakes that summer, but learned from them. Zero tolerance for mistakes from George and Ann would have been devastating for me; they even laughed it off when I left a pair of my underwear in their washing machine one time!
All in all, I had a wonderful time housesitting over those couple of years. Because of this experience, it helped me prepare for the day when I would be keeping house on a permanent basis.
Can I just finish this post by thanking George and Ann for helping me become the man I am today?