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Posts Tagged ‘humour’

Picking up from my last post,  Vancouver, like everywhere else has its share of characters.

The Sweeper:  he was an odd dude, nobody was sure about him.  He would just stand there. Now and again he would put his hand out.  Occasionally he would get upset if you didn’t give him money,  I call him The Sweeper because I was in my office and I heard the manager of the video store ask him if he would like to earn a little cash by sweeping up the sidewalk in front of his shop.   “No” came his response, “I really don’t want to work”.  I guess begging pays.

Braveheart: I was in the shop one day cleaning the display cabinet and this guy walks in.  I knew he was schizophrenic the moment I saw him.  It was a cool cloudy day and he was wearing really dark wrap around shades, when he walked his knees hardly bent, his arms did not swing, his back ramrod straight.  Not only was he schizophrenic he was off his meds.  We had the following conversation:

Me: “Hey, how you doing?”
Him: “I am Braveheart and I’m afraid of no man”

 Shit

“Well Braveheart, that is good to know.  Can I help you with anything?”

All I could think of was my cousin who works with schizophrenics I really could have used a little help. I also remember the bandage on my cousins face when one of his patients punched him in the nose.

 “What type of magic do you have?”
“Magic tricks, for entertainment.  Here let me show you.”

I showed him a trick, there was no response his face never showed any emotion. He didn’t move, when he spoke only the lower part of his face moved. It was spooky.
 
“Is that a trick?”
“Yes, did you like it?”
“Has anyone been bothering you?”
“No, everything is fine.”
“Well if anybody does, I am braveheart and I am afraid of no man”
“Thanks”
“You do good magic”
“Thanks”

Months later this guy comes into the shop he introduces himself as Steve, he looks familiar, but not.  He tells me he just came in to say hello and to say he was sorry if he scared me.  He then explained that he came in earlier in the year calling himself Braveheart!

The Con:  Once again in the magic shop. This time there were two other magicians with me.  This scruffy guy who hangs around the mall comes in. 

“Do you have a fiver for five loonies?” 

Loonies, for my non-Canadian friends are Canadian dollar coins

“Yup” as I reached for the cash register I noticed he was holding his loonies like they were poker chips so I couldn’t really see them. I held out my hand for the loonies but he refused to part with them.

Him: “Give me the fiver and I’ll give you the loonies?”

“I don’t think so!” but I was curious, so I held the fiver just in front of him where he made a grab for it, at which time I pulled the fiver back and knocked his hand that held the loonies, four loonies and a washer fell to the counter. I looked at him, scooped up his money and his washer and handed it back to him while motioning him towards the door.  The other customers began to chuckle, “Dude, look around, you are in a magic shop!  Did you actually believe that was going to work?”

Of course I can’t leave good old State College out of the picture, after all, State College is called the Happy Valley.

Table Thrower:  Early in my short lived banking nightmare career I had to go stand outside the bank at a table we had set up with giveaways for returning students.  This greasy long haired freak of nature, complete with tattoos, bad body odour, scars and more than a few needle marks comes weaving up the street and of course he is heading straight for little ole’ me.

“Hey, you have to do this shit for your job?”
“Yeah pretty much”
“Wouldn’t catch me doing this shit!”
“Ahh, well, bills to pay family to feed, gotta do what I gotta do.”
“You get paid extra for standing out here with this shit, you should you know’
“Well, it just goes along with the territory, it is not so bad.”
“I’m telling you, this is just shit, shit work, shit pay, you should quit! Lets throw this table and all this shit into the street.”
“No really its fine thanks”
“Whatever but I’m telling you its shit!”

 In the end he was right.

Benny:  I know we already had a Benny, but this guys name was Benny. Everyone in downtown State College knows about Benny.  He has an orange jumper and is harmless, but crazy.  So he walks up to the teller next to me, “Miss, do you have 4 quarters?”  Katy, being new, young and naive gives Benny the quarters. Benny thanks her and walks out of the bank.  The rest of us are busy laughing.  Katy, looking at the empty lobby with that bewildered look in her eye, “But…b…but he didn’t give me a dollar!”  Yes Katy that’s why you get the money before you give the change, especially to the staggering, swill smelling homeless guy!

 And then there was David. David and I were buddies. David is also the topic of my next installment. Street Urchins: The Saga Continues.

 Thanks for reading.

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I don’t play a lot of jokes on people I think practical jokes are stupid, mean and usually don’t end well.  But in this instance I couldn’t help myself.

Back in my banking days a co-worker, (Kim) was given a betta (Siamese fighting fish) from one of our customers.  Kim kept the fish (who we will call ‘fish’) on her desk and grew quite attached.  One fateful day Kim asked me to look after Fish while she went on vacation.  I don’t know what came over me.  Two days before Kim was to come back to work I found a fish bowl exactly like Kim’s, I found the same blue gravel the same plant the same everything.  Then I got a fish, Kim’s fish was red, I purchased a blue one.  On the day of kim’s return I exchanged the red one with the blue one.  Kim went right to fish as I pretended to count the money in my teller drawer.  It took about 15 minutes before Kim came running across the bank;

“Brian what happened to Fish?”  

“Nothing, why? is everything okay?”

“He is blue!”

I didn’t really have a plan.  I figured she would assume Fish had died and I tried to cover it by replacing it with an imposter only I was too stupid to buy another red one.  But something in the way Kim looked and sounded told me that Kim thought it was still Fish, so…

Me, “Yeah, and?”

“When I left he was red!”

“Really? how long have you been gone, two weeks?”

“Brian, Fish was red! is there something wrong with him?”

Blink! “Uhm no, I thought he changed while you were still here, I guess he changed colour after you left.”

“He changed colour, why is he sick or is that normal?”

Now I have to be fair, Kim is an extremely intelligent woman and somebody I greatly respect.  Clearly however this was not her strong suit. “Kim, Fish is fine all Betta’s are blue I thought you knew that.  They start out red but turn blue almost overnight when they reach a certain age.”

I noticed that the rest of the tellers vanished into the vault, they obviously couldn’t keep it together as the conversation progressed, I also realized I had nowhere for this scenario to go and it had to come to an end.  Kim had bought the story hook line and sinker and the look of relief on her face was priceless.  But all I could think of was how to back out of the situation without making Kim look stupid. Making her look stupid was the furthest thing from my mind.  I figured she was going to be mad at me for trying to cover up the fact that Fish had died, I could live with that as Fish was fine but this reaction while even more funny, had the potential to cause some hurt feelings. 

“Fish is fine Kim”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I am sure, wait one second I will prove fish is just fine.”

At which point I got the real fish and showed Kim.  The next line was spectacular.

“Brian! You also got a fish!”

“Well yes I guess I did, this however is your fish, the blue one your desk is an imposter”  There was a pregnant pause while Kim’s brain kicked into gear and the gales of laughter that came from her was music to my ears.  She laughed till the tears were pouring from her eyes, she saw it all,  she saw the funny part of the joke, she saw how stupid she must have sounded and how funny that must have been.  She took it the way it was given a humours, harmless joke among friends. 

I write this for a few reasons.  1) is I think it is funny.  2) I watched a YouTube video of a magician making a fool out of his audience and was reminded of why there are people who don’t like magicians.  To my magic friends, please respect your audience, they are there for you, shouldn’t you be there for them? 3) We would all be better off if we didn’t take ourselves so seriously.

By the end of the week each teller had a fish at their window.  We loved them, we looked after them made sure the bowls were always clean, they gave the bank a really nice atmosphere.  The customers loved them and the regulars would come in and check on each fish.  Some of the tellers allowed the customers to name the fish.  I however named mine ‘Stick’. People would ask me why his name was stick.  I just told them to think about it.  Usually as they were leaving the bank they would start to laugh.  They got it! ‘fish stick’

We had the fish for about 6 months or more when the powers that be told us we could not keep the fish at the bank.  We tried to fight the decision,  customers called the manager and district manager telling them how much they liked the fish, but those in power were not hearing any of it, and in the end we each took one home.  Stick, like all our pets became part of the family and lived for a good three years.  Today, a good four years after his passing my wife and I still fondly remember Stick.

 

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Today we started re-decorating our bedroom.  We are putting a new treatment on the walls its a really thick textured wall paper like product that covers up the existing paneling. Once we get it on the walls we will paint it and it should, in theory look like venetian plaster.  We are also  putting up crown molding and custom book cases.  I thought this project would give me some interesting blogging material.  So far, nada.  Everything is going smooth.  We took down some molding from around the closet door and ceiling and put up some of heavy-duty wall paper-like stuff in one corner of the room.   Even figuring out how to get the stuff around the window went smoothly.

It really sucks when my wife and I don’t argue enough in these ventures for good blogging material, but this is an ongoing project and this was day one, so I’ll keep you posted.

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My last post got me to thinking about good old INS.  I had one unpleasant experience with them, I won’t go into details but lets just say I paid for a travel visa which they never gave me, and they never give money back, it is simply chalked up to a ‘processing fee’.  Eventually I did get a travel visa but that was part of a whole other process. 

I like INS they are a major player in keeping this country as safe as it is from countries that really don’t like the USA.  obviously I don’t know the inner workings but from what I’ve learned and observed  they have incredibly difficult jobs with limited resources (although they do wield a ridiculous amount of power) they seem to do their jobs well and have always been polite and courteous to me.

As in my last post about INS, this post is not really about INS and it’s not about Sequoia, it’s not even about animals.  It’s about stupid people.

To get the full impact I have to guide you through some of the steps involved with going to an INS services building.  You just don’t ‘show up’  You go online with your issue and fill out the proper forms you find out exactly what documentation you will be needing and you hit send.  Then you wait, and when you are done waiting you wait a little more.  Eventually, in the mail you will get a letter telling you exactly when and where your appointment is and a reminder of what documents you will need and how much it is all going to cost. 

For those of you going through this, or may be going through this in the future here is a tip.  Make an INS file and keep up with it, and bring it every time you go to INS,  even though you may have submitted everything, and they acknowledge that they have it, if you get there and they don’t have it you are screwed.  Doesn’t matter why or who, simple fact is if for any reason it’s not in the file it is your problem not theirs.

If you show up at the INS office without the appointment letter you are not getting in the front door.   I’ve been there in the cold and they don’t care.  You wait in a line outside and they walk down the line and ask to see id and the letter.   They let a few people at a time into the front lobby where you empty your pockets take off your jacket and head through the scanners.  No backpacks, strollers, food nothing extra. 

Once inside you hand your letter to the check in person and they hand you a number and point you to the chairs where all the other cattle sit.  And sit is what you do.  So you may have number 17 and they call 15, alright two away you can already smell home but surprise the next number called is 125. WTF? so you go to the little window woman and before you even open your mouth she says,

“Was your number called”

“No but…”

“Please sit in the chairs till your number is called”

“But they called number 15 and….”

“Please Sir, sit down and wait until your number is called”

“but…”

“Sir, we are doing everything we can to move this along, now please sit down and wait for your number to be called”

“Bu…”

“Sir!”  At this time one usually notices at least one the two officer’s  easing over to you from opposite directions with their gun hand resting on the butt of their pistol.  Most people manage to sit down without any further problems, most people.

The thing is,  while they give out the numbers sequentially in order of arrival, each number is then registered with the department  you need to see.  So you may have number 17 you don’t know which department the other numbers are for. The guy holding  15 may be in for green card renewal, but lets say the 17th guy through the door is in for a travel visa and the 125th person through the door is also in for a green card renewal.  Well  they may be done with 15 so that department has a space open now so 125 gets called before 17.   INS doesn’t tell you this, but it doesn’t take long to figure out and when you do its clear as mud.

Keep in mind if an INS agent thinks for any reason that you are a threat of any kind they can make your life miserable, they can make it so deportation is the least of your problems. 

So there I sat counting the ceiling tiles when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a gentleman stand up and walk towards the counter, but no number had been called, collective gasp!  We watched as he made his way to the check in clerk.  unfortunately I have to say this was after 9/11 and this gentleman happen to be from the middle east, complete with turban.  I couldn’t hear what he was saying but I have a pretty good idea as the check in woman said, ‘Sir, please take your seat” he didn’t, instead he started to argue, again I heard the check in woman “Sir take a seat and wait for your number to be called”  Again this guy argued, clearly he was not about to sit down.  I don’t know if he saw the agents approaching,   I don’t know if he saw two more coming through the door with their fingers wrapped around their holstered pistols.  What I do know is that in less than a minute he was quietly being ushered through some heavy doors and nobody involved looked very happy.

So I ask, how stupid do you really need to be?

 

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Because I am not an American citizen my wife and I get to travel to the City of Brotherly love (Philadelphia) to deal with INS (Immigration & Naturalization Services). The positive side of this is I get to stay in the USA legally and even better we have some pretty interesting stories from these adventures that may end up in these pages.

However this story has little to do with INS and everything to do with travelling with a dog, Sequoia to be exact.

On our last trip to Philly we wound up at the Sofital hotel. The Sofital advertises that you can bring two pets of any size with no additional fee. I wanted to bring an elephant but we don’t have one, more importantly my wife said I couldn’t.

We were greeted by a doorman clad in a top hat and tails which normally would mean we were at the wrong hotel. Inside, the Sofital sported marble floors and countertops, mahogany walls, mood lighting from long chandeliers and really comfortable looking deep cushioned chairs. We were in jeans and T-shirts draggin’ our wheelies behind us with a 55 pound husky pulling at her leash. Talk about feeling out-of-place, I was expecting motel 6.

Just as my senses were taking everything in Sequoia let out one of her famous husky howls. Think Call of the Wild, her haunches went down, shoulders came up, muzzle all stretched forward and her nose high in the air. she was definitely channeling her inner wolf, I’m sure the wolves of Yellowstone heard her call. As expected every eye in the place turned towards us. When Sequoia howls she wants is demanding attention. If people don’t come running over to pet her and tell her how beautiful she is she just keeps on howling, which is exactly what she did, and attention is what she got.

Despite all the people coming over to pay proper homage to Sequoia, asking us questions and making the usual remarks, can I pet her? is she a wolf? oooh look one of the snow dogs, was she in the movie Eight Below? I had a pugh once…we managed to make it to the front desk where Sequoia promptly placed her paws on the marble countertop demanding more attention and perhaps a few treats. While I was dying of embarrassment the desk clerks were giving Sequoia cookies for simply being so cute.

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Vacation

Sequoia the Beautiful

Sequoia at Christmas

My friend Brahm will tell you that he has the best dog.  I’d agree with him, but then we would both be wrong.

The truth of the matter is my wife and I have the best and most beautiful dog in the world we know this because A) Sequoia lives with us, so we know. B) People are always stopping us and telling us how beautiful she is. C) At the Grand Canyon she was a bigger draw then the canyon itself.

I don’t have a fear of heights, I can climb a ladder, I climb several every day at work, but I’m not fond of heights there is something especially nerve-wracking about standing on the edge of a cliff.  I knew I suffered from vertigo but I didn’t realize how badly until we stopped at the Grand Canyon.   I asked my wife to hold Sequoia while I went to take the perfect picture.  Once at the ledge I knew I wasn’t getting a picture, it is really hard to hold the camera when you have a white knuckle grip on the safety railing.  My saving grace was the really big guy beside me that was having the same issue.  Together we were able to nudge people out of the way as we moved slowly along the rail until we were safely off the overhang. 

It was the Grand Canyon and vertigo be damned I was getting my picture. My new plan of attack was to let my wife stand on the overhang with Sequoia and I would take a picture of them with the canyon in the background. When I finally located my wife I realized I just wasn’t going to get a picture.  There was my wife (who is claustrophobic and does not like crowds) standing at the edge of the world-famous Grand Canyon, the throng of people around her was not looking at the Canyon, they were all looking at Sequoia.  My poor wife couldn’t even enjoy the view due to all the people who wanted to ask about Sequoia, pet Sequoia and take pictures of Sequoia.  Even the park ranger who was trying to move people off the edge due to the approaching storm stopped to admire Sequoia.

The Grand Canyon, as I’m sure you know happens to be a large tourist gathering place where lots of different languages are spoken.  However, there is the international language of sign.  For example did you know that if somebody comes up to you and bends slightly at the knees, leans forward, hunches over while stretching out their hands and wiggling their fingers towards the floor means, “May I please pet your dog?”  Also when they bring their hand up to their face and bend their index finger at the knuckle several times while pointing at your dog  with the other hand means, “May I take a picture of your dog please?”  additionally, if when doing this they thrust their child at the dog it means, “May I take a picture of your dog with my child please?” What kills me is that I know these people are then going back to whatever country they came from and showing their friends the picture they took of their kid with Maya the dog from Eight Below.  And no, I have never seen the movie.

In short, because of the impending storm, claustrophobia, vertigo and throngs of people more interested in Sequoia then the canyon my wife and I will have to plan another trip to the Canyon so we can actually take in the views.

I’ve never met Alfred, (Brahm’s dog) but I’m betting he also is one heck of a dog!

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Saturday started off normal enough.  Got up at the regular time of 5:30am to let the dog do her thing and make breakfast for the pets.  As I crawled back into bed I noticed it was very warm in our room so I cracked one window open about an inch and half figuring that would let the cool air in while keeping the snow and wind out.

A few hours later I’m suddenly awake, my wife is asking telling me there is a bird in the room.  The six cats are jumping off the shelves, dresser and bed, launching themselves at the low ceiling and windows as a little bird zooms around the room.  My wife and I fly out of bed and ‘join’ and by join I mean ‘add’ to the pandemonium.  My wife decides to put all the cats in the bathroom so we can rescue the bird safely.  Putting the plan in motion she grabs a cat and in the bathroom it goes, I’m quick on her heels with another cat.  Two in, four to go.  In the back of my head I hear the voice of worry, is it really a good idea to shove six excited cats who don’t really get along into a tiny bathroom together?  My wife opens the bathroom door to toss in a third cat, in the process the first two escape.  I snag another cat, but when I open the bathroom door I free the captive cat in the process.  Keep in mind we went from a dead sleep to total pandemonium to the implementation of a plan in mere moments. 

“Wait!, where is the bird?” I asked. In the moment I took to try to get a better grasp of the situation I noticed that while the cats were still excited they seemed to be looking for the bird and not finding it.  Could it have found its way back out the window?  We stopped and looked and listened.  No sign of the bird surely if it was still in the room the cats would know, but they were also looking.  My wife went to open the curtains a little wider and she noticed Trouble staring intently, following his gaze my wife spotted the bird on a shelf.  Everybody spotted it at the same time.  Once again chaos ensues.  Now we were a little more awake the task was to toss the cats into the living room.  Once again every time we got a cat out the door, the previously evicted cat would sneak back in.  Finally we got all the cats clear of the room and opened up all the bedroom windows as wide as we could.  Once again we lost track of the dang bird!

As I am starting to freeze to death in our room my wife says to me, “Do you think the bird flew into the living room while we had the door open?” We look stupidly at one another, my wife heads into the living room while I keep watch in the bedroom.  Half a minute later I hear through the closed-door, “The bird is out here”  As I step out the door my wife is heading towards me with a cat in her arms, “Cats back in the bedroom” she calls out as she starts to pass me.

“Wait!” I yell in a panicked voice, “windows in the bedroom are wide open”

“Shit”

I ran back into the unbelievably cold bedroom and closed all the windows.  Once again we were faced with the task of herding all six cats through another door.  This time we had the added benefit of the dog howling away in the laundry room.  Finally we managed to separate the bird from the cats.  The bird (a Carolina wren) seemed to be in good condition and we managed to gently usher it through the door.  My wife and I sat down and took a collective deep breath. After a minute or so of silence I asked,  “So, breakfast at Denny’s?”

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