During childhood my babysitter doubled as language teacher and was mother’s inseparable Slovenian friend. Mia and I had a chance crossing, at a cultural event common to our heritage, a subsequent 25 years after her moving from Toronto to Vancouver and a job related to a fine arts program. On leaving church, we decided to reminisce this spring evening, strolling from the streets at Bloor and Manning, to Bloor and Ossington, where she was visiting her ill ageing mother. On passing through our old neighbourhood, Christie Pit’s park was burgeoning with activity and as we conversed about our reflections and perceptions, I rediscovered the enormous impact she had with my life. It felt as if she had planted the spirit of herself in me. Minus my ruthless streaks. I was taken aback by her projections, of the anticipated direction my career choices should have led to, as a social worker or teacher because I personally regretted for years, having rejected those professions as a means of livelihood. I guess her observation of personality and passions allowed for an unbiased identification of my motivations. As a waiter, it generally served me well to enlighten families and member’s, of unique perspective’s or abilities they may have, as people are often unaware of having special skills, more prone to believing they have special needs. So grateful to have had that walk with Mia and all the selfless care she sent my way. She was childless. I believe I was the fortunate benefactor of her compassionate nature.
When I began contemplating and visualizing the content of my biography I found myself interjecting segment’s with, oh yeah, it was around that time, that guy killed himself and how do I explain the emotional impact as an aside, from my intended theme, even if I could speculate to begin knowing. On noticing the numerous multiplying incident’s to be significant, there was wonderment if everyone is inundated with so many periphery experience’s, of the awful choice of someone’s self-inflicted death. I decided to withdraw these violent vignettes from my other subject matter and catalogue all the not so nice incident’s, into a few blood soaked chapter’s.
The three sister’s without brother’s, had a deep winter freeze, toga party and I as any sensible, hormonally charged teenager, needed to be there, but because of some responsibility, was to exasperation, likely to have to omit. At some point that evening I blew off the shackles of my restriction and with haste headed to the modern day, of my imagination, good natured orgy, that wasn’t. That I wasn’t inclined to make it, was reason I showed up mimicking a bundled rock star musician ‘Bryan Adams’, in jeans, cowboy boots and lumber jacket. The sheets they were a missing and ‘The Times They Are A Changin’. I was preparing a polite gradual increase of forceful pounding on the front door to compete against the piercing volume of Cinderella Man permeating the shores of ice cold silence outside. Carol togaaaad the door open, drawing to halt, my breath, before I had attempted the pounding. Girl always had an uncanny sense of space, time and guys. I had a brief motivational peek of Rome’s conquering and enslavement of British subject. She looked like a happy victim but apparently the troops were already out of lager. She pulled out some young man like magic trick and if I minded driving to the beer store immediately, should disaster strike and leave us without libation. I didn’t know the kid, who would never make it to man, as I hurriedly drove to his apartment complex to pick up gold coins for the additional ounces, a semi-successful conquering army would require. It was frigid. I pulled up to the dimly lit, covered from the element’s, concrete roof entrance and he darted, disappearing into the building. Some moment’s drew a senior female driver also with passenger, forcing me to continue forward around the island so that she now occupied where I had been and I placed opposite direction, parallel. What appeared to be her off-spring, followed the same approach of hurried exit and entry. I sat there for a few minutes, marvelling the Leaning Tower of Pisa grey hair and how so many layers escaped touching the ceiling of her car, somewhat explained by, her eyes peering beneath the lip of the large old-fashioned, late model steering wheel. She never glanced over, to acknowledge my waiting and observing. She may have been frightened. On his return that boy dashed through two glass doors, ever so fleetingly greeted the forbidding air, in one motion opened the car door and plopped himself in the vacant seat. He looks over at me and says, “Let’s go”. Unfortunately, me wasn’t me. Me was now a screaming with terror old lady, with poofy hair, removed of intuition and the harmless nature of this kid. Poor guy was thoroughly embarrassed as he humbly pardoned himself from her car and repeatedly, kindly apologized, even as he rounded the front of her car, bowing with sorriness, heading to where I was. That red faced boy, man, boy, man, well he was of age to be drafted. I didn’t know him and if we had created dialogue amongst ourselves, it was absent significance, as our focus was the at hand business of beverage procurement. There were some sixty to eighty teenagers at the hearty party and I recall never seeing him again that evening. The next afternoon I inadvertently showed up for the after event gossip and our habitual post party, party. We had a firm understanding of priorities. The sisters and some others of our inner circle were sitting around cozy, on the parent’s plush couches but on this day seemed fully at odds with comfort, griped by abnormal visual signs of distress. Carol acknowledged my silent expression of query, saying, “You know that guy you drove to the beer store?”. “Yeah”. “He jumped from his apartment”. I was speechless.
Jane and I had similar urges for fine food, as we did a skip and a jump to Sherbourne subway station and headed to a favoured kitchen, crossing the Broadview bridge to Greektown. We whipped through the sliding door of the front car, slipping into the available seats on the right, behind the compartmentalized driver. Our internal sensors pressed the alarm button instantly. Sitting directly across was a caucasian, approximately thirty-five years of age, dirty curly dark brown hair, jeans, running shoes, white top, obviously in some kind of internal emotional distress, female. We were alerted into hush, fearful to where this might be heading, seemingly barreling towards destruction. The cabin to our left was sparse with commuters and our quadrant had just the three of us. She seemed absorbed by trauma and there was good reason to believe she was unaware of our obvious presence. We were pulling into the next stop when she stood up, but had no intention of getting off and providing us with relief. Instead she went with daze to the front cabin door and placed her hands on the glass as a child with some height might. We couldn’t see her face. Pulling out of Castle Frank station the tunnel approached the speeding stark reality of outside and the previously unnoticed, hopeless grey day, begging to feel like the foreshadowing of doom. We re-entered the darkness before Broadview station, except for the slowing artificial light and a premonition, implicating hell. Jane and I never referenced each other, we were simultaneously, fully attentive to her impending actions. The train started out towards Chester, a stop before ours and we’d be able to leave this scene, with the grateful, pathetic excuse of our hunger, when I saw the poor soul lower her right hand to the door latch, lurching to open and make a calculation I’d never have contemplated. She was preparing to jump on to the tracks, through the front exit door, of the moving train! Who knew. I was on her like a leopard on prey, grabbed her garment by the scruff of the neck and flung her the four or five yards slamming her body into the original seat she occupied. I yelled at her, “You’re not ucking killing yourself in front of me”! She brought home the meaning of the word sulking, as it was profuse. On re-establishing this memory, why didn’t I throw her into a closer available seat? Why speculate the unanswerable. We got off where we were supposed to, the next stop, at Pape and had lunch. We left her in that seat. I hope it got better.
A grotesque story needing to convey, describing the insanity some jobs can require a human to endure. A Toronto Transit Commission manager acquaintance, relayed a horrific suicide situation. A person threw himself off the station platform, literally into (as opposed to in front of) the oncoming train with ill timing to the extent, at point of contact, his body became twisted and lodged, between the seemingly impossible small space of platform and train. I believe they are referred to as ‘gophers’, are employees who must deal with cleaning up the messy aftermath of mauled bodies. On this occasion they arrived under the train to find a body sliced in half at the waist but the upper half protruding above, still alive and probably, unfortunately, fully aware. The self inflicted victim was engaged in conversation with security and later Emergency Medical Services as his innards were pincered together maintaining his life. The train wasn’t going to stand in the station forever. Ask yourself, who is required to make a procedural decision and the protocol, whereby this persons body organs, drop out, to the ground, when the train is ordered to move? Here buddy want a cigarette. Rush hour traffic you know. Who wants that job? Where do you apply?
Good friend, had a most prevalent half Canadian Indian girlfriend, the tribe escapes me and we often engaged in engrossing conversation. At one time during the eighties when liquor licensing laws required early closure, she ran or similarly, was the proprietor of, an illegal after hours, more affectionately referred to as a booze can. These places quite usually by there nature, included an incessant drug using clientele, often of influential artistic types, than the mainstream watering holes of the time and were an advanced indicator to the direction and good measure of a societies immediate evolving future. Her chosen location was unique in that she had a bar area, that included an ice producing mechanism, glasses, wine, bottles of beer, hard alcohol, condiments and shank, placed entirely inside an elevator, of a basement floor. Should the authorities need to arrive, the touch of a button would become the stuff of Houdini. I never had the occasion to be there, as it was before my time. Confirmed true, possibly embellished but with her, I wouldn’t doubt the raw nerve of her character, to have connections and concoctions of the kind necessary, to run this kind of business successfully.
She was recalling a history of herself and a rock plateau placed partially internally and externally to a waterfall, by which no human having walked the river’s edge, along a deep, long path to stand on this spot, they were, as the fact of legend knows, destined to never return. The most likely circumstance of witnesses and conditions, wouldn’t be as strong as her faith. It may have been a challenge, which in my opinion would be equally insane or it may have been a change in plans, to leave this life. She never said. However, she was proud to have endured and I having bestowed upon me, the pleasure of her presence. Angelo always kept the company of interesting people.
Bobbie Gentry………..Ode to Billie Joe Elvis Presley……..Heartbreak Hotel
Rush……………….Cinderella Man Bob Dylan….The Times They Are A Changin’
Utada Hikaru……….Boukyaku Elton John..Someone Saved My Life Tonight
Pink………….Who Knew Mylene Farmer… C’est Une Belle Journee.. Timeless 2013
Amy Winehouse……..Back To Black Bryan Adams……….Cuts like a Knife