Thursday 7 June 2012

Good and Warm

Today I took a trip into my memories. It was a pleasant trip, but I am not sure that’s because I have a selective, creative memory or they were really good memories. I think they were pretty good memories.

It all started with a horn honking outside at the Post Office. I looked out the door and to my surprise I saw a coffee truck. God, I haven’t seen a coffee truck for years. Well, I have seen them driving around the streets, but never have they pulled up in front of me. I just had to go out an see if my remembrances and the real thing would coincide. I went out and it was pretty much as I had pictured it. The side was lifted up and a pretty lady was selling food and drinks. I came closer and I caught a smell that took me back over forty years.

I was fifteen and working at Premium Forest Products for the summer. I did numerous jobs there, and if it wasn’t a boring job then it was dangerous. I lived for the minute breaks and my half hour lunch. I looked forwards to the coffee truck and lining up to get a cool drink or a chocolate bar. By the time I would get close enough to see what was in the truck, half of my break was gone. I would reach into the bin filled with ice and cans of pop, pull out a cold, dripping coke or Fanta Grape, and just hold it in my hand, feeling the cold spread throughout my entire body while I paid the lady. I recall that the ladies did a better business than the guys in a lunch wagon. Hmmmmm…wonder why?

I’d take the drink and pop the top, watching the tiny bubbles come out, and I’d bring my nose close and catch a smell of whatever drink I bought. I would walk back to my work station, feeling the cool can and taking tiny sips in order to make the drink last longer. The longer I could make it last, the better my chances of convincing myself that the day was almost over. That truck was the high point of my day.

I remember when I worked at
#1 Yonge street
a year or so later. I was an apprentice millwright and my company’s job was to install all of the big printing presses. Of course there wasn’t anything that I could do or that any of the Millwrights would trust me to do around the machinery. They found make work jobs for me, like stealing an extension cord from the electricians on the 17th floor. I was cautioned not to be caught, because it is a long way to the ground from the 17th floor. Thanks guys! I spent half a day once finding a large box. Whenever I would come back with a box, one of the guys would tell me that they were sure that I could find a bigger box somewhere on the jobsite. Off I would go, in search of the perfect box. I would often run into other young guys that were searching for boxes, wrenches or extension cords. We were quite a happy bunch of seekers.

The one job that I had and couldn’t make a mistake at was to go down at break time and get drinks for the journeymen from the coffee truck. “Yes, I would like twenty three coffees, seven cokes, two root beers and an orange juice. Oh yeah, and a Mars bar. Toss in a couple of handfuls of sugar packets and some of the non-dairy creamer if you don’t mind Milley.”  In my mind that is what happened, but more often than not something would be missing and I would get shit. On Thursdays, I would have to pre order the fish and chips for the next day. Back in those days, the Catholics couldn’t eat meat on Friday so fish and chips were a favourite. I’m not Catholic, but I did love those fish and chips!
I put my $1.50 down today and got a coffee. I wanted a chocolate bar or one of the Danishes, perhaps one of those small pizzas would hit the spot, but it was just and I really do have to watch my girlish figure. The days that I could eat and kind of shit and get away with it are long gone. I thanked the lady for the smells and memories as she was closing the side in preparation to head to her next stop. I walked in the building and took a drink of what had to have been the worst cup of coffee that I had had in quite some time. Well, at least the memory was good and warm.

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