Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Annals of a +15 Pedestrian Survey Data Collector

All the things you never wanted to know about a profession you didn't know existed.

This position requires that the data collector (DC) in question be able to abstain from any normal bodily functions during a period of time between 2.5 and 3.5 hours in length. Chief among these are actions like urinating, menstruating, and sometimes blinking. If you're keen on the job, try flying from Calgary to Toronto and disciplining your body like you would a dog. "No" is a key command, as is "Sit", "Stay", and the common "You Only Think You Need To Pee, But In Another Two Hours You'll Have Completely Forgotten About That Lower Abdominal Pain".

Step two involves that eye technique employed by pilots and sometimes Albertan drivers in the dark when normal eyesight is at it's worst and you must defocus to focus. You know what I'm talking about! It's much easier to see Japanese tourists in the jaws of a grizzly bear at dusk if you let your eyes relax. Seeing in the dark is like counting the massive amounts of business-casual occupants of the downtown core. Less is more, if you will. This technique comes in especially handy around noon, when absolutely everybody has the same, original idea: to go for lunch. Hilarious you think! How bad can it be. People crossing a bridge to buy lunch at Marcello's, no big deal right! I mean, you're only pressing two buttons! One for south-bound pedestrians, and one for north-bound pedestrians. But just like Dr. Seuss's fabled characters, it's like counting 10,000 South-going Zax and 10,000 North-going Zax, determined to butt heads on the prairie of Prax, otherwise known as a minimal amount of space and time to log all the occupants from the offices in the northern half of Calgary's CBD on route to buy Quiche Lorraine or Pad Thai Salad. Add to this fact this week's frigid temperatures, and you come up with the appropriate Human Stampede.

Thirdly, look as uninviting and unapproachable as humanly possible. In fact, if possible, don't look human at all! Otherwise you will have curious onlookers deviating from the torrential river of +15 pedestrians to stand and completely block your view, look pointedly at your counter, then where you're staring, eyes red and swollen from the lack of blinking for the past half an hour, read the sign that says "Transportation Data Collector On Duty", look at the counter again, still fail to connect the dots, and say: "I have to ask a stupid question."

At this point, your mind is racing with such thoughts as:
Yes, Yes it is a stupid question. Why? Because I already know what the question's going to be, YOU already know what the answer is going to be, and yet you're STILL going to stand there open-mouthed and ask me.

Then the question turns out to be one of the following options:
1. Are you counting people?
2. Can you tell me what exactly it is you're doing?
3. What's going on here?

And after you tell them:
1. Yes.
2. I'm counting people.
3. I'm counting people.

They then ask:
1. Are you counting men and women?
2. Are you counting men and women?
3. Are you counting men and women?

Your mind races ahead yet again with:
Why the f*ck would I differentiate between a man pedestrian and a woman pedestrian. What the hell kind of information would we get out of that? Oh. More women use this particular +15 bridge. That must be because of the availability of feminine hygiene products on the other side and they all got their period at the same time. Oh. More men use this particular +15 bridge. That must be because at 7:30 AM they're all going for a boy's morning out. All of them. At the same time. Together. No. I'm not even going to answer you. No. No no no no no.

After the security guard tells you to put your feet down from the table, you end the day beaten, humiliated, and poisoned from holding your bladder. Repeat three more times and you'll have "successfully" completed a week in the life of a +15PSDC. Congratulations! Your taxes are paying for this!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How to be a Pretentious Fuck

So a friend and I decided to give this detox a second round because it's after Christmas, it worked pretty well the first time, oh and so I can feel like a Pretentious Fuck (PF).

Why do I want to feel like a PF? How does it make you feel like a PF? What are the pros and cons of being a real PF? This should be someone's thesis topic.

Feeling like a PF is like no other feeling in the world! It enables you to judge other people without guilt, it allows you to enter health food stores like Germany entered France, and you can drop names of 18th Century philosophers in any conversation, whether it's relevant or not.

Dr. Joshi's Holistic Detox required me to shop for such food items as Hemp Hearts, Unsweetened Almond Milk, Organic Oatmeal, and Herbed Goat Cheese. Side note: This last product is only for the PFs of North America; Europe has other standards which would be too complicated to get into without said thesis.

And, unlike Hipsters, Scenesters, and Yogis, the PF's pretentiousness range is far greater. It's like comparing a Molotov cocktail to a rocket launcher.

Certainly, being a PF might not garner you as many close internet acquaintances as you would otherwise prefer, but the benefits of the title often outweigh the negative impacts. For instance, without the feeling of a PF, when I have to open my car door from the outside after rolling down the window because it still broken from last August, I feel ashamed to the point of a few crocodile tears (waterproof mascara only). With the feeling of a PF, I feel it is my right to open my door however the fuck I want, and in fact, feel that people not opening their doors in this fashion are six caste levels beneath me.

So if you're feeling low after the holidays, try a detox! The feeling of complete and utter pretentiousness will leave you glowing like a Mormon the day before giving birth to her 19th child.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Grey's Anneatomy

I tried to watch Grey's Anatomy once, but soon realized there was no doctor I'd rather have tend me than George Clooney, and sadly he's moved on from the field of medicine. Not that I'm one to judge the competency of a medical professional. The only reason I'm alive today is because I got hoodwinked into going to the local family clinic after three days of a fever due to an infection I like to call "clubfoot", that doesn't even have a remotely good story to along with it. No, instead, I wore a pair of pumas which cut open my right achilles while walking the dog, only to reopen the wound a week and a half later by wearing the same pair of shoes again during a catering gig that lasted not even 4 hours. That sounds so lame it rivals the one where I went too slow over a six inch drop that ended my first and last day of mountain biking. I need a better story.

Possibilities include but are not limited to:

"Went skiing in the Alps with half of the German slalom team. I was racing Hilde and Sepp when I cut a corner too sharp and opened my heel trying to stop myself after losing one ski, both my poles and a glove. I could have bought hoegaarden for the entire country with the revenue from that yard sale!"


"An entire theatre full of teenage girls attacked me during the premiere of New Dawn when I called Edward a fairy, and Stephanie Meyer the devil's mother for birthing the literary wasteland that is the Twilight series into this world. Floyd Mayweather had been difficult to beat into submission in the fourth round, but this was a whole other story."

Regardless, I'm pretty sure I was doomed from the start. I have this sneaking suspicion that my family members and I have all been subconsciously trying to sabotage ourselves into winning Darwin awards from day 1. For example, one summer's night when I was fourteen I experienced excruciating pain on my right side. My mother told me it was just cramps and to sleep it off. The next day I had my appendix ripped out just as it was about to burst, and spent the next three days in the hospital doped up on morphine.
My brother has a steel plate nailed in his shoulder. The other one cuts the casts off he seems to get once a year off himself. We bought custom-made crutches because there will always be a need, and clinics rarely have ones made for those six feet or taller.

So it was that I found myself discussing tying my tubes with Tijana Saturday morning at the family clinic, as some child tried to bash his toy truck into my head, and I am now relegated to sitting at home doing nothing because of injury, from sitting at home doing nothing because of unemployment. Add to this no music to listen to as my laptop got wiped when it went in to get fixed and I have become a Betty Draper without children, contemplating life as a member of the Terry Fox club. At least she had horses.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Remember when we met?

There must be some kind of perk to being the only single person in a room with three couples, all staring googly-eyed and unable to lose physical contact with one another. Like, maybe a bag of candy, or psychadelic drugs to hallucinate yourself a partner to match the other groups. Not that everyone should act like a single person to appease me; that would be elitist and wrong. But I felt slightly mislead, as I thought I was going to a party. Subjective in nature, a party could really be anything, however I think we can all agree that it rests somewhere in the vague realm of less than a wedding, but more than a poker match. I'm not sure what this was, only that it was dangerously close to a smoky backroom and a deck of cards (high Twos).
A friend recently informed me that at a dinner party, she once sat between a couple, only to have them hold hands behind her back whilst reminiscing fond moments, like the time they met. Really?

It's not like I haven't tried being a non-single, or the subjuntive form, a "couple". It's that every time I try, I become uninspired and unmotivated. I realize it's difficult, being a whole couple of inches taller than most people. One suave champion told me not that we would have beautiful babies together, but that we would have giant babies together. In my top ten pickup lines received are the bold "You must bench 350.", the more predictable "Can you slam dunk a basketball?", and the painfully emasculating "I had to wait until you were sitting down." I'm still confused about the third one. Were we to ever enter a relationship, would I have been sitting down the whole time? How would I get from place to place? How would I slam dunk a basketball? How am I not married with children?

The dating scene in this city is dismal. I am either confronted with men who can't place Spain on a map, men who think a P.Eng will earn them a one-way ticket to the bedroom, or men who try to recruit me for rugby. I'd even try dating one of them, like say the engineer with the watermarked business card, except at dinner he'd probably end up with a fork in the eye and I'd end up with the hospital bill, which I could only afford if I was married to the P.Eng in the first place. They say a bird in hand is worth two in the a ring in hand worth a fork in the eye?

The saddest part of all is that there are so few eligible bachelors left in this socially-wasted metropolitan that unbeknownst to him, a friend of a friend actually tried setting me up with my own brother, because, of course, we were both tall! Because when there's no one left to turn to, take a note from European royalty! It's not incest, it's succession!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

And now for the title of MOST random job...

For the past little while I've had the pleasure of working for the municipal governing body of my residing civic centre, and my title is both prestigious and highly sought-after. Yes. I am a Data Collector.

What does this mean to you? This is such a general term I could be doing anything from interviewing toddlers to picking up dog poop. However, it is actually much more exciting than that! I count cars. Cars turning left, cars turning right, cars going straight through the intersection!

Currently, I am also responsible for the difficult task of differentiating between single axle and dual axle trucks, between a pedestrian going with or against the traffic on my side of the street, and noting occupancy. Now, if all I had to do was figure out how many nutella-smeared 6 year-olds soccer mom #12 wedged into her land cruiser (dodge caravans are so 1998) in the playground zone adjacent to Canadian Prime Minister elementary school, then perhaps my eyesight would not have deteriorated quite so quickly. As it is, I now mistake semi-trucks for motorcycles with two passengers.

Perhaps the best part about this job, was how I acquired it. I don't actually remember applying for it, but I definitely remember the interview. Three out of the four questions asked of me were entirely relevant, but the last one, "Tell us about a time when your life was disrupted. What happened, and how did you handle it." is more than a little puzzling, especially as the only clarification I received was "Oh you know, for instance, when a family member dies."

Now I'm not really sure what they were expecting, maybe, "Last week my twin sister got run over by a dual-axle truck carrying petrol. Not only did the contact between human and truck rend her unrecognizable, but then the hull of the truck cracked and the whole thing exploded. But not to worry! I have no grudge against dual-axle trucks and will count them like I would any other vehicle on the road." Or maybe "My grade three art teacher sexually harassed me with his entire Modern vs. Ancient Transportation portfolio (acrylic on canvas) but I managed to get over my fear of both horse-drawn buggies and motorized vehicles within a year, thanks to counseling and a friendly Honda CR-V".

Since none of my coworkers got asked this question, I'm assuming I was the first guinea pig interviewee and Dick told Jane that after that shitshow he'd be the one doing all the talking.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Stampede...I always regret it.

I had nothing to update for a while, ironically, because I was working. Working a job where the extent of my social interaction was with the Weird Guy who typically communicates using only surprised grunts. At an office where shoes are optional and a trip to the photocopier is cause for celebration, you can imagine how weird that is.

I've determined that this isn't enough social interaction for a person with my extensive personality (read: likely too much for people with zero personality) and who picks up books entitled things like "Dinner with Friends". I need to be around other people, you get the idea. That and one more day with Weird Guy and I would have suffocated him with a map of the South-Western quadrant of the Yukon.

So thank goodness my contract ended right before Stampede, a 10-day extravaganza where you get just a little too much social interaction, even for me. Serving in the clubhouse doesn't guarantee you great tips, but it does guarantee you great stories. A group of highly civilized customers threatened to walk out and call the police because the chip machine was temporarily down; a woman handicapped by her own obesity fought me over a $3.50 pint of endlessly refillable iced tea because she thought iced tea and hot tea were the same thing. Anybody else see that SNL Celebrity Jeopardy? The Grandstand show has effectively lost any semblance of a plot, the costumes are getting suspiciously more reflective, and pre-recorded songs about the Garden of Imagination make me want to sink my head into a tub of margarine.

Riding the c-train during Stampede is about as much fun for me as playing mini golf against a midget. So this year, my pleasant public transit experiences included rescuing some cracked-out chick from a drunk and lecherous native, enduring the predictable and overpoweringly obnoxious drunken cheer chants people feel the need to have only on the train, and stopping a drunken brawl as half the contestants in that beauty pageant were keeping the doors from closing and thus, keeping me from my final destination, and the sweet embrace of sleep. I did manage to score a free ride on the Slingshot from my undeniably heroic (stupid) actions. Though this wasn't really a reward as I am completely terrified of anything that isn't a children's tire swing. Because of this, in my spectacular video montage, I either look like I'm giving birth to sextuplets, or Hulk Hogan is shoving a JC Penney dining set up my ass.

To conclude, by the end of Stampede I had:

A video of me apparently in labour on the slingshot,
Several stomach ulcers,
A lot more wrinkles,
Disproportionately muscled arms,
1 lost wallet,
1 lost ipod,
Mysterious bruises,
Half a can of pop in my hair,
No job and;
None of my sanity.

Until next time, when I enlighten you all with the wonders of unemployment!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Real last

Today I discovered a musical phenomenon to rival Justin Bieber. The only reason I haven't blogged about him is because I don't have the words in my vocabulary to equal his greatness.
The song, entitled "Friday", depicts the incredibly dull, homogeneous daily activities of a tween with really wealthy parents who provided all the funding for this music video, hence the only reason it got made. Please note the carefully worded and syntactically exact lyrical sonnets of Rebecca Black's autotune, and her many (read: one) facial expressions. For your pleasure (read: comic relief):


Once you've hit the replay button until it no longer functions (who am I kidding, if you made it through to the Gregorian calendar countdown, I congratulate you on your strength, if not your sanity), you may be interested in a critical review of Rebecca's talent, her parents money, the production company, and the presence of auto-tune in current pop hits. Such reviews include:

But who the hell is Rebecca Black?;

A part of my soul died while wasting my time watching those videos.
I sincerely hope the parents of these children realise that their children are being exploited as young prostitutes.;

and for the more intellectual among us,

I actually think Rebecca Black’s song FRIDAY touches on some powerful ideas:


“LOOKING FORWARD TO THE WEEKEND” – Our perception of time is limited, we can only have knowledge of the past, not the future. However even though we can have no knowledge of the future, we can “look forward” in a joyous desire for frivolity yet to happen.


“YESTERDAY WAS THURSDAY, TODAY IS FRIDAY” – measured human evolution. We are progressing at a constant rate of 24 hours per day. You simply cannot deny it. So true.


“FUN, FUN, FUN, FUN” – Human excess. Not merely content for a single dose of fun, many people demand more. Is this desire for ‘fun’ sustainable for our planet? We need to think about this.


In the wake of the GFC Major motor companies are cutting corners to squeeze dollars out of consumers, is lack of leg room the latest rort?

Individual Freedom:


- Do we really ‘got’ to do these menial tasks? Must we conform with social expectations of daily progress? Can we not think outside the typical urban (or suburban) paradigm of rote living? What The Beatles expressed in “Piggies” is clearly also a concern of Miss Rebecca Black.

I want to meet AJ.

For the full in-depth article, go here