I receive hundreds of emails a day. The vast majority-I’m thinking upwards of 80 percent-I don’t open. It’s not that I don’t want them. I love wasting time with surprises and distractions. It’s just that I don’t have enough. Time, that is.
A long time ago, I told my second-year university room-mate Vince a story about my uncle Ed’s abrupt departure from this world and the role I played in the death. When I finished, Vince-now a lawyer-said, “That’s probably why you’re so weird.”
Ignore the “weird” comment for a moment.
Until Vince’s remark, it never occurred to me that being in mid-conversation with Ed-who died instantly of a heart attack while joking with 12-year-old me and my 14-year-old brother Ed (his namesake) would have had any effects.
Last week, I learned differently.
First, let me tell you about Ed’s passing. Then you tell me if you agree with Vince
Just a few short minutes ago I was perfectly fine–editing and writing stories and selecting pictures for our website then suddenly, I started feeling really guilty about something-something that happened when I was in grade three or four. I […]
Could there POSSIBLY be an upside to waiting for a train to get across a busy highway? Editor Carter—stuck at The CN Rail level crossing on Goreway Rd. near Pearson Airport–offers two-minutes worth of possibilities.
The following is a reasonable facsimile of a chat I had with my brother Ed earlier this year while he was at his home in downtown Toronto and I was in my car, southbound on Highway 427. We were texting back and forth, making plans for a trip to a Blue Jays game.
Our discussion was only legally possible because my car has this amazing hands-free voice-to-text technology.
What happens is, if you’re driving and listening to a CD or the radio, whatever you’re listening to suddenly goes silent and it’s replaced by a somewhat robotic-sounding woman’s voice. (I call the voice Barbie because I drive a Malibu.) She reads you the incoming text and you dictate your message back.
The other morning, my wife Helena and I were sitting on the front porch goofing off when I showed her a photo of this wonderful 1968 Dodge pick-up.
“See this? It’s exactly like the one I had in high school.” Her response was epic.
First, some background.
The truck was purchased for our family business but in our house, business and personal matters were so intertwined and co-dependent that you couldn’t tell work from non-work. And since I was spoiled something awful, the truck was mine to use.
It had a slant six; a three-speed (3-on-the-tree) standard transmission and no radio. Both my older brother Alex and I learned how to play harmonica behind its wheel.
It came from the factory blue and when I was 16 I put some very distinctive racing stripes on the hood.
I used that truck to go to Sudbury Secondary School; I used it for trips to the 69 Drive-In Theatre and I used the Dodge to haul oodles of empties to the beer store on Lorne Street. I carted my friends to parties to the Bowling Alley on Notre Dame Avenue. And I ran errands for my dad.
By any measure, the truck made me cool.
Among my fondest memories: Driving around Sudbury with our slobbery old St. Bernard Casey in the back; her drool flying off in the wind. Winter and summer alike.
And I just remembered something else about my dog-and-truck show.
At one time, I had a part-time job at the McDonald’s on Regent Street. There, if a cooked burger sat unsold for more than 10 minutes, it was deemed unsaleable.
But on my shifts, I didn’t toss the old burgers. I kept them aside. Some days, there were so many they’d fill a green garbage bag, which I would then truck home to feed Casey.
Seems to me Casey and the truck started getting old and frail at about the same time and same rate and eventually, both had to be put out of their misery.
I also just realized I’ll be having more fond memories of that truck come October 5th and 6th because for the first time ever, I will be a judge in the annual Great Canadian Truck King Challenge.
The organizer, my old friend Howard Elmer, invited me to help compare all the latest pickups and I’m childishly excited at the proposition. It’ll be my first time. Watch for an update in a future column.
Meantime, even before the competition starts, I know that, no matter how high-tech or powerful or beautiful those new trucks will be, in some way I will be comparing each and every one of them to that old Dodge.
I guess it’s sort of like a first love.
Which brings me back to Helena’s response when I showed her the picture of the Dodge. And before I tell you what she said, I have to tell that how she said them was just as important.
After I told her I had that truck in high school, she didn’t, say, pause for reflection. Her reaction was too instinctive and heartfelt; and I never saw it coming.
Her reaction was so fast it reminded me of that saying “you never hear the bullet that kills you.”
Here’s what Helena said after I told her I had the truck.
“Really? And you didn’t have any girls!!?”
It was right at the top of her brain, the one she used to earn a Master’s Degree in Science from the University of Toronto. She was quite unable to reconcile my having that truck with the fact that I didn’t get any dates. That’s right. Any.
What she said was accurate but it wasn’t necessarily something I liked talking about. She then reminded me that one of her high-school boyfriends drove-of all things-a yellow VW Bug! (Try carting Casey around town in that toy!)
Anyway, I guess we can stay married awhile longer.
Pay attention. I’m going to tell you about how the people who run the Petro-Pass truck stop on Regent Street in Sudbury performed a minor miracle two days ago. At a distance of 350 klicks!
Wednesday afternoon at about 4:00, I was in my office in Toronto and got a phone call from one very unhappy truck driver.
He was at a Mississauga truck stop and he’d been there for more than 40 hours, due completely to dispatch screw-ups.
“I’ve done three 36-hour restarts in 10 days,” he lamented.
A long time ago, I had the incredibly good fortune to fly from Toronto all the way to India (ask me why in person, not in public) and the trip was in four stages, all told–from T.O. to Rome; then Rome to New Delhi, then home via Rome again. It was my first trans-Atlantic trip, (my first trans-anything trip actually). And one of the best things about it was the inflight movie. Remember, in those days, all passengers watched the same show, like it or not. It just so happened that on all four very long legs of that voyage, Alitalia screened Coal Miner’s Daughter. It’s the real life story of Loretta Lynn, as delivered in an Oscar-winning performance by Cissy Spacek. Yup. I saw it four times.
10) You call all cars, buses, trucks, and motorcycles vehicles, as in, “where’d you park your vehicle?” 9) Your main family vehicle growing up was a pick-up. 8) The pick-up always had greasy spare parts rolling around in the back. […]
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My grandmother Carter was born on a farm near Almonte, ON., and died in nearby Ottawa 99 years later. When I left my home in Sudbury to attend university in that city, I lived with her and she spoiled me […]