By Greg Price
Still in a daze to try and get back fully into the work flow after an extended holiday vacation to visit family on the west coast, as always there are those Seinfeld-esque observations when I travel where I like to people watch, and also view the human condition.
CANTANKEROUS KAREN: The meme has been made famous now on the Internet, where ‘Karen’, a woman with a shorter haircut has been branded as hard to deal with in wanting to ask for the manager in many a meme joke. It didn’t take long for me to run into a Karen in my travels, in fact as I departed for Calgary from Lethbridge on my way to start my Christmas vacation. There was a woman annoyed of why her bag wasn’t being allowed on the plane without the extra overage fee — her bag was double-digit pounds over, not two or three. Yes, Karen, those guidelines you see on airline policies do not apply to you, in fact they are just rough guidelines for people who miss their suggested weight allowances by 25 per cent.
SHADY CHARACTERS: OK, I now fully have a hang-up that if I ever were an actor, I would be type cast as a ‘bad guy,’ given how many times I have been selected for ‘random screening’ with extra security at airports. Is it the single-male, older guy traveling thing? Is there something about my appearance that screams I should be spouting out my monologue to the hero about my master plan of taking over the world? In the end, I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill as the process is quite fast and painless, with professional and courteous airline staff. But just once I’d like to see them screen the little old lady to see if the peanut butter cookies she claIms she is bringing over to the grandkids are actually bricks of heroin.
EBBS AND FLOWS: Did I have an extended Christmas holiday that lasted nearly two weeks? Yes. Did I earn every single day off? Again, yes. For nearly two weeks before holidays, the earliest I got home from a work shift, which often started at around 8 a.m., was 8:30 p.m. Moving all the chess pieces to take some time off, often requires overtime. It marked a weird feeling to go from rush-rush-rush, to utter relaxation the next day. The body obviously felt that way as the first few days I was waking up at normal work hours 6:30-7 a.m. Finally, my body recognized I was on vacation, and I had no apologies sometimes drinking coffee until 11 a.m. in my PJs visiting my parents. Relaxation takes many forms.
SUPER TROOPER: Given my immense girth, can you tell my mother is a fantastic cook? Despite being well into her 70s and having some mobility issues with some back health issues, there she was again slaving away with many fancy feasts. I wish I could help her more, in that my culinary skills include adding hot dogs to Kraft dinner and calling it fancy. I do make sure to help with clean up, and tell her time and again I’d like to take them out for dinner or grab some take out for everyone so less pressure can be put on my Mom. Or at the very least, this is a guy who is content with three-day-old pizza or soup and sandwiches which I can make myself. But, my Mom can be a stubborn one and forges ahead anyway with her cooking mastery. I just hope that she genuinely enjoys it and doesn’t feel like she is obligated in being a ‘bad’ Mom if she doesn’t. She is always close to my heart and is Aces in my book, where I make a point of visiting at least once every year to go with Face Timing quite regularly.
Getting a chance to simply visit is a nice getaway for me, where the delicious meals are a bonus, but unnecessary for a bachelor who has still managed to forage for himself despite burning water in his attempts at cooking. Nevertheless, the home-cooked meals are very appreciated where the conversation is as delightful as the morsels of food.
SCATTER GUN: My uncle and I had been smack talking for weeks that when I came to visit Nanaimo, one of us would be considered the champion of Scattergories during a family game night. Friends in my southern Alberta circle do not find playing Scattergories with me overly enjoyable, given I would win every time. That braggadocious made its way to the west coast where we eventually found out who would be crowned king. Unfortunately, it wasn’t me. After three rounds, and the points tallied, I finished behind by one point. The pen I was given didn’t work properly, my shoes were on too tight, the sun was in my eyes (inside a house where we played on a dinning room table), I thought we were playing by British rules, the timer was off a few seconds…there were many forces working against me in my pursuit to victory. Joking aside, questionable judge scoring came into play with family, where my uncle had Hobbit Hunting (apparently it’s a thing in New Zealand) as an acceptable hobby that starts with the letter ‘H’ that got him a double-word score. But, my contribution of Hamburger Helper as a junk food that starts with ‘H’ was not accepted. Apparently something that contains between 580 to 810 milligrams of sodium per serving in the mix alone is not considered junk food. I know when I think of healthy food, Hamburger Helper is the first thing that comes to mind. Whining aside, having the double-letter score flipped on me twice ended up being the difference in the game. I’ll let my readers know how my protest to Milton Bradley, the company who made the game in 1988, turns out.
PRESENT DAY: Finding gifts for my mother, sister from Seattle, brother-in-law, niece and nephew proved quite easy for me this year, my father, not so much. But in my first few days in Nanaimo, I discovered one thing about my Dad — he likes his scratch tickets, the crossword kind. Every day, he was scratching away where he was at least winning enough to more than cover his original cost — in which he’d buy more tickets. So I bought him a couple of value packs only to learn later from my mother that my Dad wanted the final season of Game of Thrones, which he hadn’t watched yet. So I swapped out the tickets which I gave to my mother to give to him for the final season of GOT which she had already bought for him. But in hind sight given how I know how the final season turned out, maybe I would have had better odds with the scratch tickets for something my Dad would have enjoyed.
FASHION GURU: No, I am not up on the latest fashion trends, being a guy who is perfectly comfortable in a T-shirt and jeans, although I do dress up for work with banquets etc. But one trend I found bizarre that perhaps I’m only noticing now while I had time off doing Christmas shopping at the malls, is the high-hipped pants for teenagers and women with crop tops. With pants that went that high, I mistakenly thought they were returning soup at the deli. And while I’m fully aware that I fell into the trap of insecurity and wanting to be accepted by my peers as a teenager, if kids all wear the same brands and ‘look’ to be cool, then doesn’t everyone start looking the same? How does one differentiate in the essence of truly being cool if the requirements are that you all act and look the same to be accepted in the ‘inner’ circle. Words of wisdom for kids out there that I wish I would of learned earlier, keep a tight, select group of friends that value your character, and just be yourself in the things you like to wear and the activities you like to do.
QUEST FOR FIRE: I always like to snap pictures of family to serve as memories as I visit extended family during the holidays. December 2019 was no different as I made the rounds at my uncle and aunt’s house in Errington, taking pictures of cousins and their kids, along with my own family. There I was taking a picture of my one cousin when an outburst of laughter came of ‘You still have an iPhone 5?’ Taken back and not really knowing what to say as I have just used my phone without complaint, not really realizing how badly of an update I really need. Apparently, we are now at double digits for models of iPhone now and I should be churning butter somewhere. Guess it’s time to hit up my cellphone company for a free upgrade.
FAMILY TIME: Can I be considered odd with my sense of humour? Most definitely so. But as long as I’m keeping my family laughing and smiling and not wondering if I have something in my freezer that shouldn’t be there, I’ll wear it like a badge of honour. For those who you truly cherish and those who cherish you, all the quirks that make you you, both for better and worse is what will make you memorable. I love the variety that is my family and friends and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.