We have been living in Calgary for just over five years now. I came here to make a new start, I like changes, sometimes. My wife works for big oil and they made us an offer we could not refuse so here we are. The kids hated us for a while, but they got over it. Well maybe not my daughter, but she will in time when she realizes her potentials, there are so many opportunities.
D my youngest son wrote on his bedroom wall “I fucking hate this place”. Although we repainted the room if you look closely you can still see the words imbedded in the wall. His opinion forever recorded.
If you have heard this before, sorry I find myself repeating more and more, it’s just an age thing.
Travel is not new for me and my immediate family; I don’t think two generations have never lived in the same place of their birth going back four generations. This may be a good thing but it means starting over in a lot of cases. In one of the unconventional of moves, my grandfather, my mom’s dad was American born who had two kids with my grandmother in NY then moved to Nevis and had the other aunts and uncles. This happened back at the turn of the 20th century when migration was in the other direction. Damn makes it sound such a long time ago.
My first few months here in Calgary were quite painful. When we came to see the house, one of the things we noticed was the absent of cars on the street, we figured that everyone was at work as it was in the middle of the day. The truth was, all of the houses have a two car garage, no need to leave the cars outside. The people simply disappeared when they got home. As I was always friendly with my neighbours this was quite a shock.
As I said my kids were not impressed. My young son D, was 15 at the time took it very hard. It was at the end of June and he was pretty much stuck at home all the time and miserable. He would skateboard for hours alone. You know what kids are like when they play in the street, they often have attitude, cars have to stop and wait for them. One day he was skateboarding outside and these very large big black SUV’s came down the road. As they were going by the driver of the first vehicle shouted at him to get off the road. Big bad D gave him the finger. The vehicle stopped and the driver took out his cop badge, that scared the crap out of him. They were the RCMP security detail for the Prime Minister; we found out that day that he lives in the community.
The start of my life here has been quite interesting. I have had four jobs. The first one was a bit over my head. I was hired as a programmer using tools I had no experience with. I downloaded the application from the web and decided to do a crash course. When I was younger this would have been a slam dunk. The job was paying over $100/hr on contract, it was worth it. My plan was not to bill them for the first two weeks as I learned. After a few days the owner realized I was in over my head and asks me not to come back. I billed him for a week. Like I said, what did I have to lose? It was his loss, I think, makes me feel better to think that.
A few months later I landed a great job with a Canada Telecom giant. I was there for two years. One day I was at a customer site not far from my office, delivering some training. I had to make a quick stop at my desk to get something. As I got there the phone rang, it was my boss, who asked me to go to room X and call her. While I was there this overweight guy, looks like a bouncer joined me and they read me my rights and then escorted me from the building. I was packaged. That was quite an experience, nothing could prepare you for that.
Not long after Canada Telecom giant sold the business unit.
One of the separation rules was that I was not allowed to contact the customer I was in the middle of training. Eventually the customer found me, asked me to go and finish the job. I really could not, I didn’t want to be sued. To make a long story short, I found a company that offered the same services and went to work with them and was able to convince the customer to join me.
That job lasted a year. The drive was killing me, so I did what I do best, I found another job, this time with Canada’s second largest Telecom company.
My plan on coming to Calgary was to work no more than 7 years then retire and go look at the mountains. Four years into it and I had only worked almost 3 years in total. Right on queue, this job lasted 11 months, the entire business unit along with quite a few others (2500 people) were axed, ooops packaged. This time it was funny.
Those of you who live in North America probably seen the IKEA commercial where this lady thought she had taken advantage of the store, because the bill was low, ran out of the store shouting to her husband, ‘start the car’, ‘start the car’. Well when they gave me the package, I was told to take the weekend to think about it, not like I had choices. Anyway I looked at it and I felt like that woman. Go figure.
So here I am, writing, not looking for a job. I still need to work 3 years or so. That’s my plan. I’ll wait until the economy changes a bit. Calgary is probably the best place on the entire continent for making money. I still have some to make.
If the St Kitts\Nevis government is looking for an ambassador I am available. I have lots of life experiences with salt and pepper moustache, quite impressive.
I get carried away writing about myself, I forget what I wanted to say in the first place. Remember that job I talked about in my last post, the Accounting and IT supervisor? I’ll call the company Mississauga Company for simplicity. Two years into the job, surprise, I was fired. But a lot happened between the start and the end. I was fired because the controller, my boss thought I was telling the Auditors things that I should not have been. I would go out for lunch with the junior Auditors, they were the doers, no power and they were my age, so why not. One day I came back from lunch and JP, that was his name, called me into his office, accused me of being a blabber mouth and fired me, right on the spot.
Ok what just happened there? Who the hell does that? First he made me manager of three women twice my age, then he fired me almost 2 years later when I was doing really well, for what?
The job had been going extremely well. I had completely mastered it, even the supervisor role, getting lots of praises, producing Financial Statements on time, payroll was always up to date and the Vendors were never paid, it’s a Canadian tradition. Humour. The owner loved me, he gave me a nice raise after 8 months.
I was the man, little Tony from Trafalgar.
Then I was fired. If I lived in St Kitts I’d say it was the ‘duppy’ man following me around, but I had not seen him in Toronto.
Fast forward 3 days.
The owner called me and asked me if I wanted my job back. The controller and one of the managers were fired for stealing. Ah he thought I knew, all he had to do was ask me. They were ordering construction supplies and delivering to their houses. I said no thanks, I had a job already, 5 minutes drive from home, I could walk there. I’ll tell you later how that came about.
In between all this excitement, school, travels, hires, fires, I had time to get married, buy a house and had a baby girl. I called her Poppy. Awwwww.
Her mom named her something else, but that’s beside the point.
Back in the 70’s there was this television show, can’t remember the name that featured a Mexican family. The kids called the dad Poppy and I thought that was cool. I wanted my daughter to call me Poppy. You know what parents are like, they want their kid to say dada or momma first. Our ‘conversations’ would go something like this:
Me. Pointing at me , ‘Poppy’
Me. Pointing at her , ‘Bebe.’
J. looking at her mother ‘mama’, I think she was getting it.
Me. Yes that’s ‘mama’, me ‘Poppy’, you ‘bebe’
J. ‘Dada’, damn I had to start again.
As you can probably tell, these conversations were futile. I was confident that in time it would work so I tried daily to brainwash the innocent baby. Today it would probably be seen as child abuse, you know how we like big brother in our lives.
I think she knew she was pissing me off, for she would up the ante sometimes. I would say:
Me. ‘Poppy’ , ‘Poppy’ , ‘Poppy’, pointing at me.
J. ‘Dada’, ‘Dada’, ‘Dada’, pointing at me.
I think her mom was working behind my back.
But I did not give up even when as she got older. Today she is Poppy and I am Daddy. You would think that after 30+ years she would get it.
J now has a daughter AJ, I tried to get the baby to call me ‘Grand Poppy’, she calls me ‘Grand Pappy’. Jo coached her, sounds better in French she says. I won’t give up, hopefully I will live long enough for a great granddaughter. I’ll keep trying.
Maybe by then I’ll remember the name of the TV show.
Would you believe I am a very quiet person? I try to talk as little as I possibly can, I don’t know why, I live in my head. Sometimes out of the blue I’ll say something profound then go back to my thoughts. People around me look at me like I am crazy. It takes them a while to figure out what I am talking about. It is like a game for me.
On the other hand when I sit down to write I go on and on without stopping. I think it is because I don’t say much and I need to get it out.
My life is so simple.
On my way home that last day from the Mississauga Company, I stopped to get a newspaper, after all I had no time to lose, I needed a job, I had responsibilities. Remember the TV I rented to own? I was still paying for that, my car, a house and my Poppy. This house was a condo, the fees were a killer.
When I got home, I opened the Toronto Sun to the want ads, went right past the Sunshine Girl, back then she was on page two, I did not have time to admire her as I was on a mission.
‘Accounting Supervisor with IT experience………Motorola Canada’. I got really excited, this company is right around the corner, I applied that same afternoon and got the job. What a life, one door closes another open and more money.
The lesson here is to be excited.
See how it works? Screw promotions, get hired, get fired, get more money. It’s that simple.
I realized for the first time that my life was destined to be different from the norm, I was in for quite a ride.
In the accounting area where I worked for Motorola, there were two blacks, both supervisors and we were both good at our jobs. She had eight people to manage, I had five. I often wondered if I got the job because of her.
Just another short pause in my travels.
The only Kittitian couch potato in Calgary.