My blogging consistency has been anything but. And I’m sorry because I can see my regular readers checking in every so often and there’s just been nothing exciting here in a while.
Although, I suppose if I consider it, nothing too exciting has actually gone on as of late which is good for me because I often like my eggs over easy. In addition, my life’s definition of ”exciting” doesn’t always mean winning the lottery or sitting across from James Franco in a dimly lit, steamy-windowed coffee shop.
So anyway, I do have an interesting and exciting true story to report. This one’s a goodie and hopefully it will entertain you long enough until the next catastrophe rushes into my life without warning. I am going to graduate cum laude in resiliency and patience training by the time this frigging life is through with me!
Between Thursday and Sunday I experienced: Concern, worry, extreme elation, consternation, fury, diabolical rage, frustration, bewilderment, happiness and the wind in my hair.
In a very long-winded and verbose fashion (albeit we are covering four days here), the story goes like this:
I met my friends for lunch this past Thursday at The Plant on Railway about a ten minute walk from my work. We had a nummy lunch, parted ways, and I made my way back. It was snowing that day - heavy, watery snowflakes which dissolved into droplets millimeters before landing on warm bodies below. It was easy to get soaked walking for too long but this walk was short and I welcomed the fresh, wintry air.
I arrived at work and walked up the stairs to my office reaching into my jacket pocket to check the time on my cell phone which was no longer in my pocket. My heart sank. I rushed into work to advise my colleagues of the sitch and headed right back out the door, trudging all the way back to The Plant following my own boot tracks right through the door. No one had turned in my phone. I left and walked back to work following the same path I had made three trips before and frantically scanned the sidewalks and roads. Nothing.
I arrived back at work to stay for good and called my phone. My answering machine picked up right away. Please let it have been run over, I thought to myself as I would have been much more comfortable with that outcome versus my phone being in someone’s hands with all my personal text messages, contacts, calendar, and photos available for perusal for as long as my battery was alive. I called Telus to report my phone missing and forced myself to push the situation out of my mind so I could focus on working.
Later that afternoon I called Telus again to enquire about the phone upgrade options I had seen on my account last time I logged in. To my surprise the guy (his name was Carlos) told me that someone had found my phone and called it in to report it. She left her name and contact number. Carlos put me on hold while he called the number. He promptly came back to tell me that the number connected to one of the Triage Shelters in my area and that the woman wasn’t there. In all candid and humble honesty, when I found out this information, two things went through my head: 1) Please let it be someone who works there 2) Please don’t let it be a client.
Carlos gave me her name and the telephone number and we said goodbye.
I made the announcement to the office right after this and immediately the name was recognised. “Oh… she has your phone?” And it was not in an uplifting or reassuring way. My elation dissipated quickly as they told me personal accounts of their experiences dealing with her. I began to visualise the hands and fingernails of the person who my phone was now in the company of. I have a tendency to take note of noteworthy fingernails. I don’t know why I do this but it’s just one of the many odd things I do. As a result, the visualisation I had of her appendages made me shiver but clearly I had no confirmation on whether or not I was overreacting. I thought about the track ball on my Blackberry. I thought about the photos of Mandy’s kitten. I thought about my James Franco (don’t be alarmed) wallpaper that everyone laughs at. I thought about my recent text messages and the vet and dentist appointments I recently scheduled. I thought about important birthdays and the addresses of my friends and family.
Still, I thought to myself, I’m going to get her a really nice thank-you card and put a bit of Christmas money inside. I thought about what I would write in it and that maybe I’d also get her a gift card at Starbucks, too. Despite her not-so-good reputation in my office I still appreciate and understand the struggles the people in this area face and since I’m all for paying-it-forward in life I was almost excited to get my phone back and to see the look on her face when I gave her my gift in return.
At 4:30, when my shift ended, I walked over to the shelter to see if she had dropped off my phone. She hadn’t. They were familiar with her there and recalled her showing them my phone earlier in the day but she didn’t want to leave it with them even though the phone number she left me is for the shelter – which she only visits but does not live at. They mentioned she enjoys wandering the streets with her compadre and will often do this for hours on end. My phone was right at my fingertips! I left my home number with them in case she went back and rushed to catch my bus…
…which never came. The weather turned from heavy, fluffy snowflakes to sleet and then to rain. The sun was down and it was damp and cold. Cars driving by the bus stop seemed to go in time lapse. Every so often one would drift over the white line a little bit and send a wave of sludge toward us waiting commuters. These commuters came and went as their buses arrived on schedule. Four bus routes pass by this stop and I spotted all but mine every two to three minutes. As time elapsed I started to mumble in my head how much I hated my life at that very moment in time. If I had my cell phone I could call the transit line and find out if and when my bus was coming and what alternative ones were available. I could maybe call someone to pick me up. My jacket suddenly wasn’t as warm as it felt before I lost my phone. I hated my stupid jacket for not having proper pockets. If it had proper pockets, my phone would have never fallen out. I thought about how I decided to bus to work that day because the weather the night before had predicted heavy snowfall for the next day. I looked at the rainy roads and realised driving wouldn’t have been so bad. If I had my car I would have been home by now, on my sofa, under a heavy blanket beside my cozy Christmas tree with its multi coloured lights mesmerized by the flames in my fireplace.
If I were to write an illustrated storybook of the time I spent at the bus stop, the cover of the storybook would look like this:
Forty-five minutes and 15 buses later I got onto the next one and asked the driver how close he got to my stop. His route was much longer but it worked for me and I got on out of desperation for warmth and dryness.
On a normal day, the bus gets me home in about 25 minutes. On Thursday, I was home an hour and a half after leaving work. Unnn-acceptable!
I stomped toward home, down the dark path that everyone tells me I should stop stomping down at night time but I think my body language, hunched shoulders, and heavy, plodding legs would have scared anyone lurking in the bushes. I’m pretty sure I was probably grunting too. It was like that demon in Jeepers Creepers I:
Meets Jack Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick at the early stages of his devilish transformation:
That was like me coming down the path.
I finally got into my sanctuary and turned on the lights on my Christmas tree which became the only source of light in my apartment. I fed my boys in the darkness and went to my bedroom where I noticed my digital answering machine had a little message flashing. So I listened and it was her. The gatekeeper. She had found my “Home” entry in my contacts. She said she found my phone at 2:30, it’s safe and… let me bring out the quotes for this: “And yes I want a reward because I’m doing the right thing, believe it or not.”
Oh I believe it.
She called me again that evening, we talked this time and I told her she didn’t have to ask for a reward because I planned on offering her a little something anyway as a token of my thanks. In knowing that the shelter was open 24 hours, and close to her apartment, I asked her if she could drop my phone off at the front desk for me to pick up the next day and I would leave her a little card and my gift to pick up when she was there next. She told me no, that she “wanted to meet the lady whose phone I have” and that “I want to shake your hand and hand it over to you.” AKA, “I want to make sure you give me money.” Although it severely irritated me, I understood her mentality and instead she offered to meet me at the shelter at noon the next day.
We disconnected and I finally relaxed. I was going to be reunited with my phone! Around 8:15 PM I decided to head out to the bank machine to take out some cash for her just in case the following day was another bus one for safety. I bundled up, got to the garage and noticed that my interior light was on because I hadn’t shut my door entirely since I was last in my car a full day earlier. I might have sworn several times while getting into my car and saying something directly to God in between, who I very rarely discuss things with. I look back on it now and the two probably shouldn’t have been combined. That’s likely why my engine wouldn’t turn over. Oh how it tried though, it really did. As I mustered the last bit of wrist energy to turn the key a few more times I flashed forward to the next series of events that would take place. #1. With a dead battery I can’t drive to the bank machine right now, the bank is about a 45 minute walk away and I’m not sure my body will survive another bout in the elements under unfortunate circumstances. Ex. Walking outside on a cold, rainy night should really be something I choose to do, not actually have to do. #2. The dead battery also means I have to bus to work the next morning no matter what (again removing the choice from me). This means that 2a) there is no bank on my bus route. #3. If I don’t have the cash to give her as her “reward” she’s not going to hand over my phone without a fight and 3a) I don’t want to fight anyone so close to Christmas!
I surrendered and head back inside. I think I might have popped recreational Gravol that night just to make sure I would actually sleep through the slow and steady rage (not rush) that was starting to line the underside of my epidermis.
The next morning I woke up a little early and tried to charge my car battery with my little trickle battery charger I have for my motorcycle. It wasn’t enough juice. Luckily I got a call from a friend who just so happens to pass by my hood on his way to work. “Get the cables ready,” he requested “we’re going to do a drive-by charging.” And I did as requested. My battery was alive again! I left immediately and got some cash from the bank machine on the way, I even was able to get my free McDonald’s coffee. It was a good morning – until the afternoon at approximately 12:40 when I left the shelter as per our meeting place and time the evening before. I was there from 11:55 AM to 12:40 PM. I spent my lunch loitering in the lobby of the shelter. I heard people tooting, burping, and discussing heated issues quietly to themselves. Someone dropped his chocolate chip cookie at my feet and in rising from picking it up he hit his head on my right bum cheek. “Oh sorry,” he said. “Do you think my cookie is still okay?” I told him he must have picked it up in under five seconds and he seemed to agree at the same time he started chomping down on it.
I talked to Maureen for about 13 minutes. She was explicitly telling me to stay out of relationships for the rest of my life and just get a lot of cats. I told her I was already two in and she high-fived me. She also relayed several stories of renting woes, and cell phones, and televisions, and bunions, and ankle cramps in winter boots that were a little too big.
Come 12:40 PM I knew that I wasn’t going to get my phone and left. I crossed the street and had to relay the disappointment to the office and watch their smiles turn to scowls. I sat at my desk and asked for silence as I deep breathed the fury out of my bones. How dare she control this situation I kept thinking. I was completely helpless to getting my phone back now and I realised that the chances were very slim that I ever would.
I worked the rest of the day trying so hard to not project my rage onto my poor clients. I selfishly and self-pityingly associated them with her and I had to shake the thought a few times to keep neutral. I called the VPD non-emerg line on my break and reported my phone as officially stolen. I wasn’t really expecting anything to come of it but at least I could take back some of the helplessness I was feeling over the situation.
Friday afternoon I got home without incident and head to the mall to the Telus booth to see what upgrade options were available to me. Luckily it wasn’t busy so I was able to pour my heart out to the poor Telus rep who probably did not wake up that morning thinking some crazy customer was going to come in that evening to entertain him with the last 24 hours of her life. We eventually got down to business and I checked out the phones. At the end of the rundown I was looking at spending at least $240 no matter which option I went with. I remember hanging my head and exhaling deeply. The rep (Ben) put his hand on my arm and said “I have an idea, meet me back at my desk.” He rushed off into the back and I made my way as instructed.
He emerged out of the back with his knapsack and pulled out a Blackberry Tour 9630. “This is my phone,” he said, “and I’m going to give it to you for free.” I looked up at him and he didn’t give me a chance to say anything. “I just upgraded to a new one, this one’s going on Craigslist anyway, so I’m just going to give it to you instead. I believe in good karma and you need it right now. This phone is only 10 months old, I’ll switch everything over to this one so it’ll be just like before you left for lunch on Thursday only you have a different phone.” I think all I mustered was, “Holy shit, what? Wow, thank you.” (I’m very classy during moments of extreme appreciation). Before leaving I purchased a $70 Bluetooth so he could get some commission off of me. It was the least I could do for forcing my story upon him for the last hour.
I got home and my little voice mail light was flashing again it was that voice. This message was a stark contrast from the coherent one she left me on Thursday as well as the conversation we had that night. This one was complete gobbledygook.
An hour passed.
She called again and told me she wasn’t able to make it. I was not about to get into a lecturing session with her because she had property of mine and I couldn’t risk having her do something with it. So I placated her and maintained the false appreciation in my voice. She enjoyed the control and tersly asked me, “Well, what do you want to do?” Almost as if I was inconveniencing her fancy plans on a Friday night. Seeing as how it was after dark, I wasn’t about to head into the down town east side alone so we planned to meet at noon on Monday (yesterday), same place.
I played with my new Bb for most of the night and had a better, drug-free sleep knowing that my phone was still alive and she was still in contact with me. Still though I went in and out of almost laughing at the situation thinking about how I’ve handled other people’s lost property I found. The process is usually to get a hold of them right away and immediately make a plan and likely meet at both our next available opportunity. It’d involve meeting half way, or dropping it off at work – all the things that would accompany handling a situation with urgency. Here I was dealing with someone who was basking in self-gratification for having done something good… “believe it or not.” For this woman, I’m sure it was enough to compensate for her otherwise lackadaisical regard for the fact that she had a piece of property that was very important and private to me. The situation was entirely on her schedule and priority determination and I was at her full mercy if I was to continue to pursue getting my phone back.
Saturday morning my phone rang around 8:00 AM. It was the officer assigned to my case. He told me he was in her area and he could go retrieve my phone if I wanted him to. For a moment this excited me but then I felt bad all of the sudden that I had made this plan with her for Monday and an officer showing up prior to this would be quite alarming for her. Not to mention the fact that she can be volatile – which I warned him of. His alternative was that he’d assign a plain-clothed officer to my office at noon and we’d walk to the shelter together to get my phone. If she escalated or started asking me for more money, they officer would take over from that point. It felt like a sting operation. We confirmed that plan and that was that.
As my mind started to wake up more I began to feel less guilty and more clear-headed. Come Monday she would have had my phone for four days. If she didn’t show up at noon on Friday, what’s to say that the same thing wouldn’t happen again on Monday? As long as my battery was charged all of my personal information, my contacts’ addresses, telephone numbers, my appointments, text messages … they were at her complete disposal. So I called him back and told him to go get my phone.
He called me back forty minutes later to let me know he had it.
I nearly laughed through my words of thanks and in a way almost felt emotional. This ordeal was finally over and my business was safe now – back in my hands. It’s hard to explain. I was heading out to do groceries and we met outside the store. He handed my phone and we exchanged a few words. He remarked how she had denied ever having asked me for reward money and that he told her it was considered extortion. ha. I told him all the evidence was on my answering machine and he reassured me that he “knew.” We parted ways after that and I went about my day. I wondered when I got home if there was going to be a message from her on my phone. She did, after all, call my home several times over the last three days.
And sure enough… She sarcastically wished me an “Uh ya, Merry Christmas” and told me that I didn’t have to send the police. She made sure to tell me that at least she had a clear conscience because she found my cell in the snow. I’m not sure how that works exactly but at that point I really didn’t give a poo.
The frigging end.