Welcome to Winnipeg, Thanks For The Stereo.

1 12 2008

Today, we woke up to discover that at some point between 4am and 10am, someone broke into our car and completely removed the stereo. The entire CD deck is gone, along with our iPod dock and Bryan’s Blackberry, which slipped out of his pocket when we got home from the Academy. Our cd player did not have a removable face plate, so I’ve been expecting something like this for a while now.

Whoever did it must have been a pro. The car was locked (I obsessively lock the car doors every time I get out of the car), and the locks were picked without damaging the car in any way. The stereo was carefully unscrewed and the wires were gently disconnected, instead of being wrenched out in a hurry. The glove compartment was left wide open, with the contents strewn across the front seat.

The upside? Dude didn’t smash any windows, slash the tires, or damage the car in any way… aside from stealing the key to my car ride happiness. He didn’t take the car itself (although technically, he couldn’t have, thanks to the IMMOBILIZER) and it still runs perfectly, just slightly less… musically.

The stereo is covered under the car insurance policy, which is fantastic, so we’ll be able to get a new deck installed (WITH A REMOVABLE FACEPLATE) within a week or so. This is going to be the longest week of my life.

Welcome to Winnipeg.


After filing a police report, and making a claim with the insurance company, I’m told that I will have to pay the deductable ($200) and then, if the deck is worth more than that, the insurance company will pay the rest. Unfortunately, because I bought the car (gently) used from Craig, I have no recipt or proof of what was paid for the deck. I have an appointment to go have the car appraised by an insurance dude, who will somehow figure out how much my lack of stereo is worth. I’m hoping his answer is “Well, shits, that was one pricey stereo. I figure we can give you an extra $300 to spend after you cover the deductible, yoz”. But I’d settle for “This stereo is worth more than $200, we’ll cover the rest”. On a happier note, I’m kinda excited to buy a new cd player, preferably one with a detachable face plate and iPod hook ups. I’ve only been stereo-less for a day, and its basically killing my soul and will to live. Driving without music suckssssss.


I wish I could play the violin.

29 11 2008

(Please press play on the embedded video. Its just music playing to a random picture, not a real video or anything, but at least you have something to listen to while you read. Good luck getting the plucky violin out of your head.)

Earlier this year, I had a mild musical love affair with Final Fantasy. For a few weeks, my iPod and ears knew of nothing else, thanks to songs like this one. I vividly remember walking to Baked Expectations (back when I still worked there and didn’t hate the owner) on a cliche fall morning, listening to This Is The Dream Of Win & Regine. It was the first day that was cool enough to warrant a sweater, and I was so excited to be able to unpack all of my scarves and gloves and other winter paraphernalia that I broke out a pair of fingerless gloves to wear too. This song reminds me of fall leaves and fingerless gloves and clove cigarettes. It was recently brought back to my attention via a recent Genius playlist (I canNOT rave enough about how much I love Genius playlists. One of the best mixes I’ve ever heard stemmed from Take Me to the Riot by Stars) and with that, it returned to it’s proper place in my eardrums. And brain, because after listening to it once, it gets stuck in my head for days.

Probably an innapropriate choice for the classroom

26 11 2008

At Chapters, I have the unfortunate mixture of “Cash” shifts and “Tasking” shifts, which means that some of my shifts will be spent chained to a cash register (“Have you heard about our iRewards program that saves you ten percent off all your book perchases for a year? *eye twinkle/mouth vomit*”) and the rest of my shifts are delegated to completing various tasks. Sometimes I shelve all day (omgyesplz.), sometimes I help with “merchandizing” the gift section, and sometimes I have other mundane responsibilities like “providing stellar customer service to EVERYONE FO-EVA!”. Yesturday, it was a Cash shift.

Halfway though my day, a man came up to my till, handed me his small stack of books and said “I’m a teacher and I’d like to get my 20% discount please.”

This is nothing out of the ordinary, we get teachers wanting a discount all the time, which isn’t a big deal, as long as they’re purchasing books for use within their classroom. So I started on my routine spiel… “Okay sure, I just need to see your teachers certificate and a piece of photo ID while I –”

And that’s when I noticed the books he was buying.

“Sir, you can only use your teacher’s discount on books that are for use in the classroom, and follow curriculum guidelines.”

“Yes, I know, these are for the classroom.”

I glanced down at the books in front of me and, understandably, had a hard time believing that he was telling the truth. He had chosen a Barbie Sticker Activity Book, a Kurt Cobain biography and Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk.

These books?”

“Yes, why?”

“Uh, I’m going to have to get my supervisor to approve the discount. I don’t have the authority to change prices…” This sounds like a lie, but its quite true. Since starting at Chapters, I was somewhat demoted from my position of authority at Coles. While at Coles, I was what is now called an ACEM, which is the position immediately below the Assistant Manager. I had ALL the codes and passwords and authority to do whatever needed doing — price modify, no sales, voids, refunds, etc. Now? I have nothing.

So I walked over to the Cash office, and explained the situation to the COD (cash supervisor). “Chay, I have a customer who wants to use his teachers discount on a Barbie sticker book, a Kurt Cobain bio, and Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk.”

Chay looked up and said “You’re kidding. Isn’t Snuff… -”

“…- the book written about a porn star who’s final performance is a gang bang featuring her and 600 men? Yeah, it sure is.”

Chay shook her head, and followed me back to my till. “Sir,” she began, “We can only give a teachers discount for books that are going to be used in the classroom.” And then, after seeing his valid teachers certificate, to try to catch him in his lie, she asked “What age are the children in your class?”

“Oh its a split level program. The students wrote me a list of books that they would be interested in reading, and this is it. I figure hell, if they’re willing to read something, it doesn’t matter what the book is about, as long as they’re gonna read I’ll do whatever it takes.”

“Right,” Chay said, having trouble masking her disbelief. “But do you really think a Kurt Cobain biography and Snuff are appropriate choices?”

I chimed in with “Are you aware of what Snuff is about?”

The man shrugged and said “Not really, but it doesn’t matter, as long as they’re interested and willing to read, it will further their education and greatly improve their reading skills.”

“O…kay.” Chay said. “I have a hard time believing that any school board’s mandated curriculum would approve Snuff as an appropriate book for use in the classroom, but unfortunately, I have no way to prove whether or not you’re telling the truth. I’ll give you the discount this time, because I have to follow store policies, but I strongly feel that these books are wildly innapropriate for anyone who is learning to read, mixed level classroom or not.”

So the teacher got his discount on what I hope to GOD are Christmas presents and not books for his students. Short of books found in the erotica or sexuality section, I can’t fathom a MORE inappropriate book for the classroom than Snuff. On Amazon’s description of the book, one can clearly see that “Chuck Palahniuk’s latest novel is an X-rated story suitable for adults only”. Why is it that Christmas always brings out the crazies, the cheapskates and the blatant liars?

Some kind of special moustache?

9 11 2008

This video fills me with delight. And to keep from being labeled a “political blogger”, I’m going to say much about the recent election results. I’ll leave it at THANKFUCKINGGOD. I’m very relieved that our neighbours to the south didn’t fuck things up — again. I read somewhere online that there are a handful of people who are quite upset about Obama’s win, and are convinced he is going to make things worse. HOW MUCH WORSE COULD IT POSSIBLY GET?!
Ahem. On another note, I’d like to share a few of the mindbogglingly idiotic customer questions and queries I have been asked within the first week of my new job at Chapters.

– “I’m looking for a cookbook, but all I can remember is that it has a picture of food on the cover, and the word Cuisine in the title — do you have it?”

– “Do you have one of those Amazon Kindle thingies?” No, sir, they’re sold by AMAZON.

– “Since you don’t have the book I want in stock, could you just quickly check McNally Robinson’s inventory?” Uh, no, I don’t have access to their system because we are TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT COMPANIES.

– “Do you have that John Grisham one in hardcover?” Which.. one? “You know, the one! The John Grisham one!”

– “Have you read this?” / “Is this one any good?” You mean that randomly chosen book which is one of the THOUSANDS if not MILLIONS of books we have in the store? Yep.

– “How much is this?” The price is printed on the back cover. “No, it isn’t, I looked EVERYWHERE! It isn’t priced!” Bottom right corner. $18.95. “Oh. Well, the other copy I checked wasn’t priced, you know..” Right.

– “I’m looking for a romance novel my cousin has, she said she bought it here.” Super, whats the title? “Oh I don’t know the title, I know that there is a woman with a big poofy dress on the front, and that she’s standing beside this hunky muscle man with no shirt on…” That.. doesn’t narrow it down at all. Literally every romance novel cover has a slight variation on that very scene. In this one, for example, the hunky muscle man has an eye patch, and the woman is holding a parrot. “I think the man has green eyes” Uh.. okay… but see, I can’t actually search the database based on a description of the wardrobe or eye colour of the people on the cover… “Really? Wow, you should probably be able to do that, it would be very helpful.” You know what would be helpful? TAKE FOUR SECONDS TO WRITE DOWN THE FUCKING TITLE NEXT TIME.

– “I’m looking for a book…..” (after waiting for more details, and only getting a vacant stare, I usually grab closest book off shelf) Is this it? “Uh, no, this isn’t it.” Oh, it isnt’? DO YOU MAYBE WANT TO TELL ME THE FEW VAGUE DETAILS YOU DO KNOW ABOUT THE BOOK? Like the colour of the cover? Or whether or not the author has a moustache? IS THERE A NUMBER IN THE TITLE? (All of which have been details I’ve been given, when I’ve asked people which book they were looking for. “Oh I don’t know the title, but the author has a very smart looking beard. Do you know the book I mean?”)

My mom (who owned her own bookstore while I was growing up, and now works for the same company I do — Chapters/Indigo/Coles) and I joke about how convenient it would be if our stores were organized by colour instead of my topic. Like the amazing art project, There Is Nothing Wrong In This Whole Wide World, that happened in San Fransisco a few years ago. The artist, Chris Cobbs, rearranged the inventory of a local bookstore entirely by spine colour. I had my dvds arranged the same way, in my old Thunder Bay apartment, and would have them that way again if I had a big enough bookcase for them. Although, I bet if bookstores WERE arranged that way, customers would start coming in knowing the author, the title, and the ISBN, but with NO idea what hue the cover might be….




7 11 2008

Winter has arrived. Last night, Winnipeg was slapped in the face with a ice-covered mitten (You know when you breath on your mitten-ed fingers to warm them up, except it quickly backfires because your breath freezes and your nice woolly mittens become crusty and icy and even colder than before? Imagine being slapped with a mitten like THAT). And by slapped in the face, I mean slapped on every available surface, with snow and ice and freezing slush, and blustery winds. After several hours of freezing rain yesterday evening, I woke up this morning to find this waiting for me outside.


Obviously, neither Bryan or I were prepared for such a Winter Wonderland, both of us wearing inappropriate shoes (Converse and man-dress shoes, respectively), and with no idea as to where to find our car brush and/or scraper. Which was mildly important, as the Civic was covered in a solid three inches of slush/ice/snow. Fingerless gloves were also a poor choice. 30 minutes later, we made it to Polo Park, which is normally a 10 minute drive, where I dropped Bryan off at work, picked up a cozy hat, some groceries (and some hot apple cider to thaw my hands), and slid across the street to Canadian Tire. Now, it must be mentioned that I have nothing but deep and undying hatred for C-Tire (employees, services, mechanics, bullshit pretend money…etc), so I was determined to be in and out as quickly as possible. I grabbed an industrial sized bottle of windshield washer fluid / de-icer (“Works up to -45!”) and the baddass-est snow brush/scraper I have ever seen, and got the hell out. The brush has a bright blue stainless steel handle with a reinforced scraper and a brush that is for SERIOUS snow removal, which, sadly, I foresee in my immediate future.

This winter is going to be an interesting one. In addition to this being our first Winnipeg Winter (Why do people always laugh and say “Ohhh you’ll see, YOU’LL SEE!” when I say that?), our car is going to put up a struggle in as many ways as it can. Instead of having rugged, heavilly treaded winter tires, we are using what may be the original summer or “all season” tires that came with the car, many moons ago (Craig will have to confirm or deny this..). All season tires are bullshit in a city that gets as much snow/sleet as Winnipeg does (or Thunder Bay, for that matter). But on the plus side, there aren’t any hills to spin out on. But on the negative side, there are feirce prairie winds that tear the skin from your bones. Practically.

Before moving to Winnipeg, I had the car air conditioning checked, because, well, it doesn’t work, and the very Bill Nye-esque mechanic informed me that I was incredibly lucky.

Bill Nye: Yes, quite lucky.

Emily: Really? Lucky? Great!

Bill Nye: Indeed! The problem with your AC is the one of the cheapest things to repair! You see, there are four main componants to each air conditioning system, all of which are connected with a series of tubes and hoses. These tubes and hoses enable you to have refreshing cold air in the summer, but also provide warm heat in the winter, and keep your car windows from fogging up.

Emily: Uh huh..

Bill Nye: Your tubes and hoses are in varying states of disrepair. Some are cracked, some are leaking, some are loose, some are just old and crappy. But out of the whole system, they’re the absolute cheapest to repair!

Emily: Super! How much!

Bill Nye: $500 after parts and labour

Emily: *is dead on the ground*

So, the Civic has bald summer tires, and an air-circulatory system that consistently fogs up the windows and takes FOREVER to warm up. Should I spend $500 on new kickass winter tires? Or should I spend $500 on heat and non-fogged windows, and AC for the summertime, if it ever returns? Decisions, decisions.

Also on my List of Things To Buy For The Car are a CAA Membership and jumper cables. Earlier this week, I got a phone call from Bryan, who said that he couldn’t come pick me up from work because the car battery was dead and he couldn’t find anyone with jumper cables. After throwing a minor temper tantrum, I wrangled Reed into giving me a ride to Polo, as well as the use of his slightly battered cables, only to discover that the car wouldn’t even turn over, and had started making a suspicious clicking sound from somewhere deep inside the dashboard. We sent Reed back to work, thanking him for his help, and went into Second Cup to think. I consulted with my dad, and Bryan consulted with his, and they agreed that the clicking sound “might be the starter, or the remote starter” but it “might be the alternator” too. This couldn’t have come at a worst time (but really, when does car trouble ever happen CONVENIENTLY), because it was the beginning of the month, and we were totally broke. After paying rent, and OSAP, and Visa payments, and car insurance, we seriously had less than $30 between the two of us. How the hell were we going to afford a tow truck, let alone the cost of the repairs? And even if we found money for a tow truck, where would we get it towed to? Neither of us had ANY idea of good/cheap/non-sketchbag mechanics in Winnipeg, and on top of that, had no idea what was wrong with the car, and had NO idea how much it was all going to cost us. All we knew was that the car wouldn’t start, and would have to be towed somewhere else, to someone who could fix it. I called a towing company, talked to a very helpful man who asked me a pile of questions about the car, and found out that it would be $65 for the tow, and if we wanted to try jumping it again, it would be an extra $45. I didn’t want to pay for the towing on the off chance that Reed’s cables were too battered to function, but I sure as hell didn’t want to pay fifty bucks for some tow truck driver to do something that I could do for free. SO I called the only other person in the city that I knew of with a car: Chad. Chad, my saviour, my favourite person on earth, found jumper cables, and came to the rescue. After a few unsuccessful tries, the headlights suddenly flickered and I was deafened by cries of “GO! GO START THE CAR. FUCKING GO RIGHT NOW!”. And, by some miracle of electricity, the car started. All of the panicking and stress and angst we had moments earlier disappeared. We didn’t have enormous repair bills to freak out about anymore. Thank. Fucking. God. I gave Chad a big hug, and proposed marriage, as a sign of my gratitude, and we went our separate ways. Bryan and I picked up Greg, and drove to a distant Safeways to give the battery a chance to recharge. All was well in the world. We had grocheries, a functioning car, and whistling hot water radiators to come home to. And plus – it hadn’t snowed yet! YET.

Ism # 2

2 11 2008

Living Together

.. means that you know when another human being poops.

Ism #1

25 10 2008

Life in Winnipeg is…

getting to see stupid people almost get into ridiculous car accidents ALLLLLL THE TIME. I drive around thinking “Okay, uh, why are you BACKING INTO this busy intersection at rush hour, Plymouth Voyageur?! And you! Dodge Neon! Why are you STOPPED IN THE MIDDLE OF AN INTERSECTION (on a red light) !? HOW ARE YOU BOTH NOT BRUTALLY ACCIDENT-MURDERED.” Repeat x 100 000.