Our dirt bikes bring all the boys to the yard. Damn right, they're better than yours.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Holiday in Edmonton: Reviewed!


All this Edmonton boosterism reminded me to drop a post about my trip back west. Before I even left here, the cab ride to the airport offered a hint of things to come, as I saw road signs advertising work in Alberta. As you’ve heard, the Wild Rose province is booming harder than the bass in a high school kid’s iPod. There are Help Wanted signs everywhere, fast food restaurants have closed due to staff shortages (I saw two Burger Kings and Dairy Queen shut down, apparently for this reason), and many places are keeping shorter hours – as I discovered when lunch plans at DADEOS were scrapped because the place was still closed two hours after posted opening time.
The service industry is stretched thin, and the most noticeable change in the city is that service suuucks, at least at the chain stores. Panago screwed up my pizza order in three different ways by forgetting stuff and delivering the wrong pizzas. Red Robin gets a mention for its shrapnel lunch special, where a server dropped a beer bottle, which showered my table with shards. The waitress watched my buddy and I pick glass out of hair, shrugged and muttered “oops” as she walked away.
Future Shop, however, failed on all cylinders. My first trip there saw approximately 400 sales people huddled in tight, eye-contact-avoiding circles, while a single bored cashier accommodated a line-up of roughly fifteen increasingly hostile shoppers. I joined the line to find out the price of box-set. It had no sticker and the eleven-year-old who looked it up on the computer told me – and I’m not exaggerating here – that the price was $1.60. I informed him that, like, maybe that wasn’t right, as it was a three-disc DVD set, so he told me I’d have to ask the cashier. After the line stretched out to about 20 people, a manager sauntered over to watch. The fuming woman behind me told him to get another cashier on; he agreed – seemingly taken off guard by such a revolutionary suggestion – and ran away to the back, where he presumably started another life among the boxes in the stockroom, as neither himself nor a cashier ever appeared. At least the frothing mad guy screaming at the people in the returns department absorbed some of the tension.
That was at the south side location.
A few later I ended up at the downtown store with a friend who was in the market for a new TV. He picked one out, didn’t bother to haggle, and off went the sales rep to the back to find it. Some time later, we’re informed that the store doesn’t have one in the back, and he couldn’t sell the floor model. Fine, OK, how about this other, similar model, then? Again, no dice, but if we wanted to come back in a couple of days he could have one sent here from the warehouse. Since my friend doesn’t drive and planned to cab it back to his apartment so the two of us could load it in, this wasn’t going to work. The sales guy’s solution? My friend could pay $50 to have it delivered in a few days. I suggest the rep knocks $50 off the price – sweet fuck all on a $1500 purchase – and then my friend would pay the delivery charge. Hmmm… he didn’t know if he could do this and suddenly assumed the look of slaughterhouse cow dazed by glancing sledgehammer blow. At this point the guy wandered off to talk to someone who could crack this Rubik’s Cube of commerce and we assumed he’d return with an A-OK. Seems like a no-brainer, especially when you’re getting commission, right? Guess not, and he too disappeared in the back to start a new life in the Peoples Republic of TV Boxes.
Really, the whole lack of service thing was more funny than frustrating, and it was interesting to see exactly what happens when people stop pretending to care about crappy jobs. It certainly didn’t harsh my Edmonton buzz, anyhow, and, on the upside I did have one of those faith-in-humanity moments that would give Jimmy Stewart a yuletide boner. I was waiting for my ride in front of Colin’s place one snowy night when I noticed a homeless dude sitting in the front entrance of the apartment across the street. A woman came in and started talking to him, and I thought, “The jerk is gonna kick that guy’s ass out in the storm,” but instead she gave him a smile, coffee and a bag of food, chatted him up and went inside.
It also needs to be said that Edmonton looked beautifully seasonal, like a city should in the winter: blanketed in fresh powdery snow (beats the blustery rain in Toronto). Regardless, nothing’s better than haunting those familiar haunts, keeping friendly with old friends and cramming in more than enough good times to remind me why the Edmonton’s worth being homesick over.
So, how are the cockles of your heart? Warm? Mine are toasty, and engorged with Christmas spirit – or maybe it’s the Neo Citron I drank a half-hour ago.
My forehead feels fuzzy.

Now: the essentials of my trip to Edmonton – by the numbers.

Duration of trip: 10 days
Amount of snow: 2-3 feet
Estimated average temperature: -10
Earliest I woke up: some time after 10am
Times I made my brother cousins or friends drive me around: too many to count
Visits with grandma: 3
Times I accidentally came across a picture of myself in the Journal: 1 (Ed did an anniversary issue that re-ran a pic of Neal and I drunk in Santa costumes)
Jokes made about grandma’s Christmas-themed vest: 1 (“Why, I see you’re celebrating Vestivus this year!”)
Number of times grandma asked me to dust the top of the fridge: 1
Loads of grandma’s laundry I folded: 2
Pairs of big old grandma underwear I folded: don’t want to talk about it
General awesomeness of grandma: 10 out of 10
Christmas dinners: 3
Pizza dinners: 3
Restaurant meals: 11
Lunches that involved drinking three or more pints: 1
Lunches with SEE alumni: 1
Steaks eaten: 1
Tom Clancy games played through on Colin’s Xbox 360: 1
Title of game: 6 as in Rainbow Six: Vegas (die terrorist scumfucks!)
Number of time Colin made me watch the (admittedly cool) trailers for Halo 3: 6 (at least)
Oilers games I considered attending: 1
Oilers games I attended: 0
Price of single-seat ticket to said Oilers game: $175
Items of Oilers swag I bought instead: 4 (socks, gloves, book, hat)
Long walks downtown: 2
Shopping trips down Whyte Ave: 3
Old friends bumped into while shopping on Whyte: 3
Whyte Ave ratio of hipsters to non-hipsters: 1:1
Percentage of those hipsters wearing either a second-hand blazer, aviator glasses or a headband: 75%
Percentage of hipsters who probably paid too much for a bad haircut: 90%
Trips to West Edmonton Mall: 0
Trips I wanted to take to West Edmonton Mall: 0
Items bought to avoid paying extra tax in Ontario: 1 (extra memory for laptop)
Trips to the south side before correct memory was purchased: 2
Condescending computer tech-nerdiness level of guy who sold me the memory: 100%
Trips to the movie theatre: 0 (oddly)
LRT trips taken: 1
Nights drinking at the Black Dog: 1
Drunken post-Black Dog trips to Sam Wok: 1
Amount of food that ended up on table: roughly 15%
Gateway geeks I dined with while there: 3 (Dan, Leanne, Cosanna)
Books I convinced Dan to write that night while we were drunk: 1
Nights drinking at the Garneau Pub: 1
Number of changes made to Garneau Pub since I was there in the summer: 1 (got rid of one of the pool tables in favour of more tables)
Metal nights attended at Filthy McNasty’s: 1
Metal night I thought I’d attend at Filthy McNasty’s (or anywhere else for that matter): 0
Awesomeness of going to metal night: 666 (they played Maiden)
Parties: 2
Latest running party: 5:15am
Number of high school friend couples that had babysitters that night so they could drink: 4
Hangovers: 1
Duration of hangover: 2 days (a new record!)
Volume that I tell myself the partying was cranked up to: 11

Lastly, have a good one, friends, and I hope everyone checks in with a Christmas update.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave, you just made me so jealous. Tell me you're meeting up with Jill Dixon and Wade, and I will try to go back in time, buy a plane ticket, and fuck over my family.

Merry Ho Ho! Today's forecast in Vancouver: cloudy and 7'C!

Karen :D

12:56 PM

 
Blogger Superdude said...

THey were both here and available. Tomorrow night marks the second week-iversary of the Jill-Wade-Neal-Christine-whatever-other-classic-Gatewat-Shrapnel meeting/drinking party.
Or, more succinctly, we're going to drink with all those people. And more!

11:00 AM

 
Blogger Superdude said...

Gatewat is the post-apocolyptic typing-in-the-dark name for that paper.

11:01 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wish I was there. :(

Karen

12:11 PM

 
Blogger mike w said...

Funny, I had the same level of customer service at Future Shop on Xmas Eve. I literally chased one employee around the store (he saw me coming), only to be told that a last copy if The Office was "in the warehouse" but that "he wouldn't be able to get it because it was in the boxes," whatever that meant.

Then, out of nowhere, some dad-like customer started yelling at the top of his lungs, startling everyone, customers and employees alike. Eventually the dude was surrounded by warehouse staff and escorted out of the building.

At least me and the lazy Future Employee had a good laugh about that one.

1:54 PM

 
Anonymous Kenny Crammit said...

That's the awesomest picture of Edmonton I've ever seen!

My dad and I went to best buy in Edmonton on X-mas eve, and had a very different experience. I was fully expecting a gong show of 11-year olds running around and customers screaming and throwing things in frustration. Instead, there were enough people working there that it was easy to get help, and the line ups were actually reasonable! So hurray for Best Buy! And fuck future shop. Fuck em.

2:26 PM

 
Blogger Dave said...

On a side note, Best Buy recently adopted a new business plan where it's drastically scaling back its selection of DVDs and cutting out most of the independent/specialty distributors in order to flood the shelves with only the mainstream top sellers. Best to support your local indie store or shop online for the specialty stuff.

And that photo of Edmonton is a beaut. I stole it from someone's blog who'd obviously pinched it from somewhere else. I tried to find the source and attribute it to the photog but no such luck. Whoever took it: nice work.

11:37 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay! My par-tay made the blog! I'm sooo excited. Was that what caused your two-day long hangover, cause, you actually didn't seem very cut that night. ME, on the other hand, cut. Very much. Head hurt. Also very much.

BTW, Sam really appreciated the cowboy figurine, and especially the half-empty bottle of hand lotion.

Lori A.

3:22 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kris!
SNOB! Thanks for calling when you were here!!!

Crazy Cat Lady
(Shanna >^..^<)

5:11 PM

 

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