Sunday, May 31, 2015

Special K IS pretty special

It's just gone 4am today and I'm doing another graveyard shift at the grouphome. This is the 5th one this month on top of working 40+ hour weeks driving a 5 ton.
I can't tell you about the kids at this place because they're minors, suffice it to say that there are not many "good" stories here.
Harry used to work in corrections. He landed a job at Oakalla prison here in BC and after several years there moved on to work out of a halfway house in South Vancouver on Hudson St. in the Marpole area. I couldn't imagine the Blue Bloods in that area allowing a house like that up there now! In fact, the original site is about 7 minutes from my home. Funny how things go.
If you don't know, a halfway house is where convicted criminals live upon release from prison to begin the process of reintegration with society while still providing monitoring and support. The Offenders get meals, a room and a program in addition to whatever their parole conditions are. Some end up back in prison unfortunately.
Opening a new halfway house is often opposed by vocal people called NIMBYs  ( Not In My Back Yard ) To be honest, I wouldn't want to live within a community of  NIMBY's.
Anyway, the reason I tell you this is that I get lonely on this shift if the kids are away or asleep like tonight and  I'm Missing Harry.
Harry was my dad if you didn't know...
Harry did shiftwork for about the last 20 years of his work life. You gotta admire a guy for that don't you?
In my mind's eye as a child and a teen, I can see Harry waving goodbye as he drove off to work in the different cars he owned throughout the years.
A 59 Pontiac Stratochief, 66 Pontiac Parisienne, an "in the meantime" 74 AMC Hornet until his 75 AMC Pacer came in and finally his 81 Chevy Caprice Estate wagon, the last car he'd drive.
He had to wear a uniform in Prison and hated the green colour and the tie. He hated anything even close to formal or military. I come by that formal bit honestly so it would seem.
The 70's were innovative years, so much changing so quickly. As a kid, I'm sure I missed a lot of things but I recall lots!
Harry hated it if mum "kept his dinner warm" in the oven under tin foil. I can still hear him "June (my mum) for Christ's sake, leave it on the counter Love. It's horrible all dried out like this."
He adored her, don't get me wrong! He was a crusty Brit is all. We eventually got a 60 lb microwave in the very late 70's. Probably from Sears...they were loyal to that place.
Harry wouldn't take food to work with him. I suppose they had meals in the house and leftovers like here, but the man was very picky...probably didn't eat. He DID take a little plug-in kettle and a few tea bags though. No tea there? Seemed odd even then. I can still see the fold-over baggie. No ziplocks then.
Somewhere along the line, Harry found a little black and white portable TV to take along. He could get 3 channels. Imagine 3 channels back in the 70's early 80's. What was even on during the lonely hours?
Lonely. Harry had 1 friend. Dave. ( Dave worked at the house and drove one of those very cool 70's Volvo P1800 E coupes. It was copper coloured. Ugly choice.)
I don't know how Harry managed lonely. Maybe he never got lonely? I get lonely. I'm lonely now.
Harry told me a few work stories in later years over beers in strip bars. Like the time he flushed the toilet at the house and the tank seemed "quick" to fill. He lifted the lid and found 2 bottles of Vodka.
Did he fill in a report? Nope...he tipped the spirit down the sink, filled the bottles with water and put them back where he found them. He said he never heard a word about it.
He played tricks on his work mates often, I wish I could recall some to tell you.
Some mornings, when I was still very young, I'd hear Harry get up and put the kettle on and I'd get up too. School was hours away but often I'd pretend I couldn't sleep just so I could sit with him before he left. We didn't really talk about anything. What is there to say to a little kid as you're getting ready for work?
I recall feeling sad for him though. I don't remember why I felt that way, I just recall the emotion as if it happened only yesterday.
A cup of tea and a bowl of Special K cereal, every time I got up...and I did it many times, that's what he was having for breakfast on day shift mornings. He ate, I was quiet. Damn I wish I remembered if we talked!
You know, I've tried Special K and I don't get the appeal...but sometimes, in a grocery store when I see it there, I look around in case someone is watching and if not...I touch the box.

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