I have just moved.
I left my much-loved Anglican rectory, on a street where my neighbours included a Widow who gardened, an Englishman who gardened, and a man who swore at his dogs constantly because the new owners (yes--I was a 'renter') raised the rent 85%.
Welcome to Calgary: home of delusional real estate speculators and absentee government regulators. My new home is 5 blocks away and has no gardeners, and one camouflage-motif motor home in which a couple from Nova Scotia live.
In a motor home on the street.
What a difference 5 blocks can make, eh?
Our condo is very nice; every new little "touch" is classified by the developer as "high end". Included in his tour of "high end" finishes: the over-size buttons in the elevator, and handles on the kitchen cabinetry. Both which are nice, to be sure; but they haven't been carved from ivory or ancient wood--nor do they have big dollar signs on them like in Richie Rich's house, so my heart fails to flutter every time I clap eyes on the fixtures.
The other morning I went out to climb into my conspicuously green SW vehicle, only to meet our new neighbours across the street: hobos. Not the rail-riding, harmonica-playing Boxcar Willie hobos of yore, nor the German Shepherd variety that help children foil robbers hiding out in Cullen Gardens, but shopping cart pushing, bottle-picking hobos that seem as common in Calgary as sow bugs under a rotten log. I had been warned by our building manager that a senile old man allows several bottle-picking hobos to squat in his house; now, standing before me, was one of the aforewarned hobos, standing by my beer vehicle, shirtless, and applying deodorant. Glory glory.
H1- "Steeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeem Wha-stistle! Toot toot!"
H1- "Got any free samples of that Steeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeem Toot toot in your car there?"
H1- "Come on! You must have some!"
H1- "Well hell--what kinda salesman does that make you?"
B- "The kind that sells his beer and doesn't give it away."
I drove off, and he continued to apply deodorant to his other pit.
. . . but I wouldn't make it far without bumping into another garden variety douchebag: the drunk "friend" who happens to be a tradesman, and is will to work for cheap. I found just such an animal at my old rectory; he was lurking around the garage I had filled with various SW goodies.
The thing that I've learned about these individuals, having known many (and occasionally been one), is that you truly get what you pay for.
This one was a plumber. Allegedly. The only thing I could tell you at first smell is that he was drunk.
P- "Steeeeeeeeeeem Whistle!"
(I truly hate the way hobos in Calgary draw out the word Steam--they all do it the same, and the way they deliver it makes it seem like they themselves find it very clever and amusing; I've found that it simply blows more of their pestilent breath in my face)
B- "Hi!" (I'm always cheery to hobos, despite my internal monologue that reads: Punch hobo. Exit stage left.)
P- "Say. . . I've never tried that stuff--any good?"
B- "Would you believe a salesman if he told you otherwise?"
P- "Say--yeah--good point! Got any for a sample?"
B- "Nope. Beer is best kept in the refrigerator, not the trunk."
P- "Yeah, yeah! I hear that--I just wanted to try it and tell my friends to drink it."
B- "Well. . . you could still tell your friends to drink it."
P- "Got any shirts?"
P- "I'd even take a neon sign if you had one."
B- "You would?"
P- "Sure! It's no cold beer, but it'd go great in my living room!"
B- "Don't have'em. Never have."
B- "Do you get the impression that I get asked for a lot of free stuff all day long by people?"
P- "Well--that's you're job, ain't it? Promote the Steeeeeeeeeeeeem Whistle with free stuff?"
B- "No. It isn't. That's the Beer Giveawayman's job; I sell things. I'm a salesman."
After some more pleasantries my new ex-landlord beckoned me in to show me the wonders of cheap plumbing. I had seen what lay behind the walls prior to all the fancy new copper that now hung before me in a great network of pipes, and I had to admit that it did look good. It did. . . until my new pal, Economy Plumber, turned on the hot water. Then it looked like a scene from Das Boot. My earlier cheek was rewarded with a blast to the face of hot water, which issued from a pipe in the wall. As i later found out, after a "professional assessment", the hot water line running directly from the hot water heater had been cut straight through with no . . . but I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll let the plumber lend his voice of experience to this transcript.
L- "Shut the fuck'ing water off, man! She leaking like crazy in here!"
P- "What? Leaking?"
B- Glub Glub Glub!
L- "I tellin' you, shut dat water off--it's a fucking mess!"
(my new ex-landlord is French Canadian)
The plumber actually came to look, and stepped right in my way as I was trying to retreat from the royal soaking I was getting.
P- "Shit! It's leakin' like a horse's cock!"
(It's a new expression to me as well)
After the water got shut off, and my new ex-landlord stood steeeeeeeeeeeeeeming, the plumber looked at the pipe--a pipe that was clearly cut in half--and said, "Well hell! That pipe's cut!"
Bang a gong.
Then he said, as if to reassure us, "No problem! That's a fucking mess--but no problem. Easy. Fix it right up." With that he left for another smoke break and a can of brain food in the form of Mountain Crest Lager.
You get what you pay for--and I guarantee that if you paid this piece of work a nickel to kick you in the ass, he'd only give you a 3 cent ass kicking. That's just the kind of operator he is--the friend whose a tradesman and will do it for cheap and drink on the job kind of operator.