I received this text message a couple days after Christmas 2011.
Text: ‘I am having Roti’
Text: ‘Guess where I am?’
Me: ‘Roti Shop’
I didn’t think the Roti shop would be open at Christmas, I was being a smart ass, a few days before I had been to the local West Indian restaurant and there was a sign on the door which said ‘back on January 16’. So why would it be different in Toronto.
That text came in at the same time as I was relaxing on ‘da Couch’ and thinking about being on the beach in St Kitts. I was not thinking about being there but about the time I spent there as a kid. The last time I was on a ST Kitts beach I had to wear sandals, my feet was so sensitive to the sand.
Ok, now he had my attention, that’s my sister.
At Christmas I generally call my sisters in Toronto, I have 3 of them there. This year I had decided not to call any of them expecting they would call me. Well you guessed it; I did not get a single call. They were all waiting for me to call them. I was not upset; I don’t like talking on the phone anyway. I prefer to text.
But still why didn’t they call? How would you feel? Oh well, I’ll try it again next year.
About 3 years after we moved to Calgary, ’ Bernie the Texter’ and his family moved to Ontario from Calgary.
I met ‘Bernie the Texter’ the first year I was in Calgary. We started working at a big communication company on the same day. He were both Business Analyst but working with different software products. Before I came to Calgary, I owned a software consulting company for a number of years. Starting a new job in a big company, in a different city, thousands of miles away from home was quite stressful; I had to learn new systems, new office etiquette but the biggest challenge was getting the cobwebs out of my brain, trying to get use to 9 to 5.
Bernie saw I was struggling to get up to speed so he encouraged me. One day I asked him in a moment of weakness, what he thought my best strength was and without hesitating he said, ‘you have seen it all’, referring to business software. I was feeling vulnerable that day; men don’t ask questions like that, right.
You meet some people in life and you just click with them. He is one of those people. Bernie is from Saskatchewan who has travelled to other faraway places. He was intrigued that I was from St Kitts so he was continually asking me about it. We talked about cricket a lot, the dude made a cricket bat for his son. He started to take his son to see cricket, went to England and stayed a whole day at the cricket ground looking at a game. I didn’t think people still do that.
One day the subject turned to food and I was telling him about some of my favorites dishes like ‘salted cod fish’. That was quite funny looking at his face.
Bernie then told me a story about the old days in Saskatchewan, when after a major storm the rest of Canada began donating food and other necessities to the communities. The good folks in Newfoundland sent out lots of boxes of Salted Cod. Well as you know Saskatchewan is in the middle of the Canadian Prairie, very far from the ocean. The people there had never had salted cod so they started to fix their leaky roofs with them. I was thinking I had heard a similar story before.
Ok, one of us will probably get in trouble for that story. Come to think of it, it is probably a backward Newfie joke. A Canadian thing, insider joke.
Shortly after he moved to Ontario I happened to be in Toronto and as usual whenever I show up my family plans a spontaneous party, yea I know an oxymoron, so I invited Bernie. I had fun observing ‘Bernie the Texter’ mixing with my family, the boy was in heaven, at one point he looked at me and asked, ‘how do you guys understand each other?’ We tend to have our own personal conversation all at the same time with each other, while trying to out decibel the other, can be chaotic. That’s what happen when there you have 12 siblings.
‘Bernie the Texter’ was right at home.
Today is family day (wrote this a few weeks ago), I had just read that Albertans work 7 ½ days a year more than other people in the industrial world and we spend fewer days with our love ones compared to other Canadians.
So it was against that backdrop that I started to reflect on Bernie’s text. He and his family, wife and two kids and his parents were at my sister’s house eating Roti at Christmas, after that same family neglected to call me.
Did I mention he feels totally at home with my family?
I won’t say he stole my family from me, that would be mean, but what would you say?
So Bernie, I just thought I’d write to you.
Last Thursday I went for a walk on the +15 just like we use to do in the past and I could not help but think of you. The last time we did this walk around the city there was construction on the south side by Penny Lane, we had to get off the warm +15 and go outside for a few blocks then back inside. I remember it was a cold day and you almost froze your butt. I knew that we had to go outside before I left the office so I was prepared.
In hindsight I wished you had frozen your butt that day.
Anyway they finish the construction on the south side by Penny Lane so now I can walk around the city unencumbered. On Thursday I did just that, took me 45 or 50 minutes. In the old days it would take us 25 minutes because you walk so fast, that would piss me off. I would tell you that I am from the Caribbean and I don’t walk fast. You didn’t care, so I had to keep up.
Now it’s so relaxing without you.
As you know I have a new job thanks to your great reference. I also used Mark as a reference, he is great and we stay in touch. I’m hoping to see him soon, just have to wait for Apple to release a new product so he can come downtown, he is an Apple junkie. In the past I would use Ashok as a reference, but I’ve had so many jobs in the last 6 years, maybe he is tired of giving references. To be honest he never emails me unless it’s a follow up to my email. Ashok and I had lunch about two years ago and I have not heard from him since. Do you think it’s because I have not initiated contact? If I find myself looking for a job again I may ask Danielle instead for a reference, she is such a nice person with great dimples, love having lunch with her, very pleasing to the eyes.
Yes I tend to stay in touch with people I like, so if you feel you are special in any way and think you are my only friend, don’t.
It’s hard making good friends here in Calgary. I work with really young and highly educated people and they have not yet gotten to know me. They probably feel threatened that they can’t keep up with me. Haha, good one. Maybe they don’t like old people like you do. Except for Keith he is from a previous job, two jobs after you and me. We had lunch the other day, Keith and I think alike but different so we understand each other. He is also a lot younger.
Jo has lots of friends but I like my own, I don’t really hang out with middle age people; sweet, probably get cussed by some of her friends.
In any case if you are wondering why I am throwing out all those names, just wanted you to know that you are not the only friend I have.
Just remembered something, as I was walking in the +15 last Thursday, this guy stops me and said hi and asked ‘if I was in contact with the old gang’. I said absolutely, mentioned all the names above and threw in a couple others. He looked confused; occurred to me he obviously didn’t know what I was talking about. After he left I recalled he was a soccer parent from one of my son’s team.
Oh well they say that the first thing that goes as you age is your memory. Hope I don’t ever forget you, but you never know, things happen.
I am not sure why I started to write to you, maybe I miss you, maybe I miss my sisters in Toronto, maybe I miss my kids, who knows. Jo and l will be going to Saskatoon at the end of April; perhaps you can hook us up with your family.
Do you think they would know how to cook Roti? If not they can cook one of your favorite meals just for me, I promise to text you and tell you what I’m eating, pictures included, just because…..