Saturday, May 26, 2012

Post 2006 - 2006 In Review

Welcome to 2006, everybody!

How was that year for you?

2006 marked the last year that I would spend at my then-current job.  A bunch of interesting people came to my Toastmasters club.  And my dad came to visit us at the cottage.

I turned 42 in 2006.  I remained unhappy in my current job but it only got worse.  Later in the year, they decided that I wasn't working out in my present tasks and it was decided that I would be better off answering calls all day.  I was relegated to the Help Desk.  It was deeply insulting.  It's not my fault that I had not been properly trained to do the tasks assigned to me.  Of course I made mistakes.  That is a consequence of a lack of training in the things expected of me.  Grr!

I didn't complain much for a couple of reasons.  It wouldn't have made a lick of difference.  I would have  been deemed to have a "bad attitude", whatever that means.  And, unbeknownst to them, I had been tipped off about another job at another department, and I was going to apply.  By the deadline for the job's closing, I had applied.  By November I had had the interview.  A month after that, I got the job offer.  I would start my new job in January 2007.  Which means I will discuss it tomorrow.

In April of 2006, Patricia was told that she would be a special guest co-host on Rick Howe's Hotline.  Back then, every week or so, Rick would invite listeners to participate on his show during the lunch hour.  Patricia threw her name in, and he selected her.

This is where things get interesting.

I wrote Rick and told him of my relationship with Patricia.  He knew who I was anyway, due to my radio interest (long before I started this blog).  I told Rick that I would like to arrange to propose marriage to Patricia during this special hour.  He readily agreed.

Patricia was a bundle of nerves heading up to the show.  She wanted me to be with her at the radio station for support.  I told her I had to work.  She was ticked but went anyway.

I work in Cubeville.  I arranged with my boss, who had an actual office with an actual door, to let me use his office during the hour when Patricia was on the air, so that I would have some privacy.  Using a special number Rick supplied with me, I called in during the requested time of about 12:40.

I told Rick I had something to say.  He said to go ahead.  And I proposed to her on the air.  I still have the full hour of the show when she was on.  I went on about life's journey, and referenced a Mary-Chapin Carpenter song, and then asked her to marry.  Then, Rick cut in and wouldn't let Patricia answer the question until after the commercial break.

People at Patricia's work were listening because they wanted to hear Patricia's participation on Rick's show.  They had no idea about the proposal.  Her manager was just getting out of a meeting and wanted to know how Patricia was performing.  She was told about the proposal.  She asked what the answer was.  "We don't know!  They're not back from commercial yet!"

The commercials over, Rick came back and said in the history of Halifax radio, that this had probably never happened before; it had certainly never happened in all the years he had been working in radio.   He then allowed Patricia to answer the question. She said  yes.


Rick then mentioned that there was a camera crew in the studio.  He had fibbed to Patricia about how they were there to see how an amateur would work out as a co-host.  They were there from Live at Five, and my proposal made it to that fine program that evening.  Starr Dobson, the co-host on Live at Five, said she knew Patricia and was happy for both of us.  Steve Murphy said he knew Rick and went on with teasing the evening news.

Rick interviewed me for a few minutes after the proposal, asking how she and I had met, and I told him what I told you in an earlier post in this series.  We rang off, and Patricia remained on the air until 1pm, taking calls from listeners and interviewing a couple more guests Rick had lined up beforehand.

After this was over, my boss came back to his office and congratulated me.  Word spread throughout my office like wildfire.  Due to my emotional exhaustion, I was given the rest of the day off.  A woman from my office walked me to the nearby Superstore for me to buy flowers for Patricia.  As we were heading back to the office, Rod was walking with Patricia toward us.  We returned to my office for a few minutes to get my things, where Patricia was hugged repeatedly, I was hugged a few times, and we left to go to Patricia's office.  We were hugged there.  Some women in the office had gone to the flower shop and the convenience store in the building and bought her a wedding magazine.

We left not long afterward.  The next day was Good Friday.  I had already arranged to go to my parents' place for Easter.  They got the good news.  Easter Monday, when the Hotline was back on the air, Rick played the proposal again, during the "scrum" they did involving him, Brian Phillips, and Deb  Smith, all discussing the issues of the day.

In May, my cousin's wife Doris was having her birthday.  It was a special birthday; let's leave it at that.  There would be a big family party, and we were invited.  My parents and I went.  It was a good time.

What I want to discuss with you, though, is the people in these pictures.  I don't recall their names, but they're Jamaicans Charlie has brought up every year to work on his farm.  Most locals don't want to do that work, because it is hard work, unglamorous to the extreme, and doesn't pay all that well.   The federal government realized this a long time ago, and devised this work exchange program so that folks from countries like Jamaica and Mexico and other far-flung nations will come up here and do this work.

You may recall that there is a fairly big controversy in Canada in 2012 about trying to get people who are collecting Employement Insurance on a regular basis to take on jobs that may or may not be in their direct skill set.  They want people to take "suitable work" rather than collect EI.  And, going forward, the federal program that allows foreign workers to come up here and work will be linked to EI.  Farmers like my cousin will have to exhaust the supply of local workers before he will be able to hire these hard working guys from Jamaica.

The problem with this approach is that, as I have stated, local people don't typically want to do that work.  He told me of a time when 12 locals showed up on a Monday to work on his farm.  By Tuesday, 6 of them showed up.  By Wednesday, it was down to 3.  He thought that 1 would show up by Thursday, but was disappointed to learn that nobody did.

I know that there is no easy answer here.  I am lucky enough to work in a field that has kept me employed (or in school) since 1986.  I have not had a moment of unemployment since then.  But, if it reached the point where I had to do this work to support myself, or a family, I would do what it took.  I don't have much patience for able-bodied people who won't work.

Yeah.  Come get me.

In other news, 2006 was a year in which quite a few interesting people came to my Toastmasters club.  I would contact these folks to come as special guest speakers.  Over the years, we had the mayor, several radio folks, and people like the ones in these photos.  Dawn Sloane came to visit.  So did Chief of Police Frank Beazley (enjoy your impending retirement, sir).  The well-tanned man is Scott Bodnarchuk, late of CHUM, but now sales manager at the Rogers stations in Halifax.  The husky fellow was a sales guy at News 95.7 who has since left.  And, yes, say hello to Joan Jessome, the president of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union.

In July, Patricia got a new lawn tractor.  That's me with our neighbour Reg Short (who was one of the founders of the TM clubs, by the way!) helping us put the thing together.

My dad visited the cottage in August.  We had asked him to help us do some work there.  By that, we meant that he would sit in a chair with a cold drink and tell us what to do.  He was more hands on than that.  He and I re-attached a storm door that had blown off his hinges during the Winter (and came very close to breaking the kitchen window, which would have been devastating).  He replaced the hinges on the storage shed.  He did other things.

In return, we drove him around Pictou County a bit.  He saw the Loch Lamond wooden church.  We had some good meals.  And he was briefly in New Glasgow, where he told us that he had not been since he had delivered a load of potatoes there in 1947.

We begged Dad to stay with us for a few more days so that we could show him some of the sights, but he insisted on returning to his wife after 2 days.  We lied like a rug and told him that we had to return to the city for something so that he could ride with us rather than take the bus from Pictou County to the Valley.  At the bus depot in Halifax, he went to the washroom for a moment.  Patricia bought his ticket with her money and stuffed his money for the ticket into his suitcase.  He would not discover the subterfuge until he got back home.

Some Chinese friends visited my parents and me in September or so.  Here's a picture of some pretty Chinese women hovering over Dad.  Was I jealous?   Well, maybe a little.

In October, Patricia and I were at the cottage, to have Thanksgiving.  We decided to venture into Tatamagouche for the farmer's market.  I was munching on some perogies when Patricia wandered away from me toward a woman who had a basket full of kittens, and the kittens had little ribbons tied around their necks.  I finished eating and joined her.  We were told that one of the cats was a male, and Patricia picked it up.  It immediately clung to her and fell asleep.  We looked at each other and sighed and decided to keep the cat.  Walking back to the car, we ran into a woman who turned out to a be a cousin of  mine who lives in relatively-nearby Pugwash.

The drive back to the cottage was mostly in silence.  Patricia held the kitten until we got inside.  It wandered around the cottage and met Cindy, who growled and hissed and swatted it away.

That night.  we looked at the cat and wondered what to call him.  "Everything's so new to him.  He's like a ... Newbie!"  And that's the name he was given.  He is on the bookcase behind me as I type these words at 1 o'clock in the morning.  And now you know... the rest of the story!

Here are some pictures of Newbie taken that weekend.

When I got Newbie home, he was little more than a scrap of fur.  I didn't want to let him roam around the house when I was at work, so I kept him in the bathroom.  I'd leave my shower radio on for him so that he could get used to human voices.  His litter box was at one end of the bathroom.  His carrier and food and water dishes were at the other.  I'd close the bathroom door and leave him in there until I got home.

At night, I'd let him wander through the house.  I'd soon lose track of him.  But when I went to bed, it wouldn't be long before he joined me.  He didn't have the strength to jump from the floor to the bed, so he would have to grab on to a blanket and climb up to get to me.  Very sweet.  He would swipe his little claws at my face with that wide-eyed stare of his.  Not quite so sweet, but still funny in retrospect.  And it was very sweet indeed when he would settle in for the evening and start to purr.  Even at that tiny size, he could purr very loudly.  He soon found it preferable to sleep under the covers, and that is still what he likes to do.

The year was winding down when we had our annual Christmas party at Toastmasters.  This one was bitter sweet.  After 38 years, the phone company would no longer be able to provide a meeting space for us.  The phone company had founded 2 clubs in 1968.  The club I would join was called Telstar.  The other one was called Telco.  One of them was for managers; the other was for staff.  I do not know which was which.

Over the years, and decades, the complexion of both clubs changed a great deal.  At one point, in the 1980's, Telstar became a place that a lot of police officers joined.  By the time I joined in 1991, that was over.  The 2 clubs had a healthy spirit of competition, a small rivalry, but we all respected one another.  They met Tuesday nights.  We met Thursdays until around 1995 or so, when it was decided to meet Wednesday nights.  In 1998, the 2 clubs merged, and now we're called the Halifax Downtown Speakers.  We retained the club number of Telstar and kept the meeting numbering of that club as well.  That's why we can be at meeting #1580 or so after 14 years.  When I joined in 1991, it was around 660.  Yeah.  I know.  The numbering doesn't work.  I don't know when the numbering of meetings started, but it was long after 1968.

Anyway, the phone company decided not to have anything to do with us any longer.  At the time, I tried to be positive about it, and I am still trying to be.  I would prefer to focus on the free rent that they provided us for 38 years and not the fact that they were giving us the finger.   We were allowed to have that one more meeting, and this picture is from that meeting.  Come January, we would start meeting at our new home, which would be the World Trade Centre in the heart of the downtown.

I don't know why they booted us out.  The people who did make that decision, though, can go frig themselves.  They ignored the history of the clubs, and the club, and turned their backs on us.  Frig 'em.

Just before Christmas, some boys at work agreed to shave my head the way theirs were.  I didn't tell Patricia.  She wasn't happy.  But I have grown to like my hair short and often get it shaven very short.  It's very freeing.

On Friday December 22, we decided to check out the cottage.  We were off work at noon, so we drove up in the afternoon.  We found everything to be in order and had dinner in the town of Pictou, at a place we like called Sharon's Place.  On the way back, we dropped off at the home of some people Patricia knew and stayed for a couple hours.  We returned quite late Friday evening.  I know it was after midnight before I got home.  Newbie wasn't happy with me.

Christmas came.  Patricia and I were still very grateful to Dad for helping us out at the cottage.  Patricia decided to do something special for him, and made a raisin pie for him for the holidays.  Raisin pie used to be something you could get everywhere, apparently, but over the years, its popularity dwindled to the point where Dad just couldn't get it anywhere.  Mom didn't want to make any for him.  So, Patricia did.  That's what he's holding in the picture.

2006 was an interesting year for me.  It was full of change personally, professionally, and Toastmastersly.  It led nicely into 2007, and I will tell you about that, tomorrow.

See you then.

P.S.   Hey, how about some feedback on this series, folks?  These posts are hard and time-consuming to write! Thanks.

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