Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wheelman - Part VI - "Dampened Spirits"

Konichiwa, Charai!

Well, working on two hours of sleep really didn't help my efforts driving that rainy and miserable Friday morning.  It was pitch dark when  I got up and only after imbibing a gallon of tea did I begin to resemble something human.

At this stage in the game I'd earned enough trust from my Transportation overseers to let me take the "bus" home.  I poured myself into the Atlantic Film Festival Scramble Van and beetled my way back down to the hotel.

I was immediately dispatched down to Shirley Street to retrieve a few of the senior staff.  This instantly snowballed when I was asked by my original passengers to pick up a few more admins in the vicinity who also needed a ride.

Now I know some of these people had time considerations but that's no excuse to be reckless.  Despite being asked to pick up more people than I was sent out for, this was one of those rare times when I felt like there was a giant stopwatch hanging over my head.

For some bizarre reason you can't get into the hotel's parking lot while traveling north up Barrington.  So to loop around, I turned up Cogswell with the intention to of pulling a Brunswick/Portland/Gottingen hard about.  Well, when I reached the traffic-jammed intersection of Cogswell and Brunswick suddenly I hear this little homily in the seats behind me:


I clenched my teeth, signaled and slowly began to inch back into the left lane to try and facilitate the request, completely against my better judgment.   Two seconds later I hear this:


I hear a horn beep, I glance into the rear view mirror and then crane my neck to see a car I'm about to cut off in the left-most lane.  I'm nowhere close to the vehicle behind me; they just gave me a warning beep to let me know I was there.  My passengers had inadvertently scared the bejesus out of me.  Needless to say, I was pissed.

After I completed the (totally illegal) u-turn I turned back to them and said.

"Okay, just for the record I am never doing that again.  From here on in, I'm taking the route I want to take because that just ain't safe."

They seemed cowed by this and I was somewhat relieved to kick them out of my van moments later as maneuvered under the shelter of the hotel entrance.   

Friday morning was all about getting delegates from the hotel to the Sonic Temple, a recording studio on Hollis Street, which was set to be the venue for the "Music & Image One-on One Meetings".  International music industry professionals and buyers would be mixing it up face to face with artists and their agents.  It was a pretty big event and competing with the rabid traffic on that busy one-way street could be taxing at the best of times.

Fortunately my history of driving around in the downtown core three to five times a week served me well and I was able to get around pretty well.

About midday we were dispatched back down to The Sonic Temple again to bring the attendees over to Murphy's Restaurant.  By now the monsoon-like weather conditions had returned and rain was coming down in sheets.  My pronounced lack of sleep was also becoming a bit of a detriment.  By three in the afternoon I knew I'd be a hazard to my fellow motorists.  

One of my last driving duties was transporting the delightful Catherine Jones from Sonic to Murphy's.  Catherine is the Senior Licensing Manager for Universal Music Canada Inc.  She oversees the application of Universal's catalog of tunes in Canadian film, television and theatrical productions as well as commercials and ("Hey, cool!") video games.  Too bad I didn't have a bit more time with her.  I would love to have gotten her opinion on Kat's documentary production Rip! A remix manifesto.           

Catherine single handedly embodied just why it was so much fun to drive for the Festival.  She was so thankful, so gracious and so interested in us as volunteers that she really made the job a real pleasure.  It's people like her that earned a reprieve for the scant few morons who annoyed me on the previous night.

But by noon I'd had the cookie.  Jim graciously let me go and even had Jodi, a fellow driver, take me home.  Just as we were leaving however, we got a request to run some donated food from East Side Marios over to the offices at Park Lane, the CBC building and (of all places) the Stadacona military base.

We retrieved the grub from the 8'th floor registration office, bombed down to the van and began our rounds.  The rain and wind continued unabated and soon I was feeling rather waterlogged.  A vaguely dizzy sensation caused by a pronounced lack of sleep compounded my out-of-body experience.

Regardless, the staff at the main office and Park Lane were certainly appreciative when they saw the food coming so our efforts weren't in vain.  En route to our last stop at the military base, Jodi and I had a chance to get to know one another and I added yet another memorable and interesting person to the endless list of cool cats I'd met.  Her sassy and sarcastic attitude was right in line with my own and we got on famously.

I had a couple of military clients in my last account management job so I knew we'd have to navigate a web of red tape as we rolled up to the gate.  Surprisingly, our vehicular markings and clearly official bearings (HAW!) got us right past  security.  I'd never been on the Stadacona military base before and almost immediately we were somewhat baffled by it's sprawling, labyrinthine expanse and maze of one-way lanes.

Eventually we found the appropriate building.  I grabbed the box of now stone-cold vittles, leaned out into the driving rain and stumbled into the lobby, now dripping wet and freezing.

Timothy McVeigh would have gotten a warmer reaction from the front desk staff as I got directions to the AFF office.  I was sent downstairs and then proceeded to horrify another receptionist who acted as if  my cardboard box filled with pizza, pasta and salad was making a noticeable ticking sound.

"Hey, _____!" she shouted over her shoulder.  "Do you know what office the film people are in?"

A Dabney Coleman-esque clerk emerged from his office and smiled, not a friendly greeting but a look of amusement.

"They're all gone," he said matter-of-factly.

"All gone?" I said through clenched teeth.  "Gone where?"

"I don't know.  But it's likely they won't be back now until around two or two thirty."

I pressed my eyelids together and winced.

"Uh-huh, okay.  Where's their office?  I'll just leave this for when they get back..."

"What's in it?" asked Dabney, his tone expecting the reply of 'Anthrax' or 'Killer Bees' or 'Anthrax-Infested Killer Bees'.

"Nothing, just some food.  Pizza, pasta, salad...that sorta stuff..."

"Oh, you can't leave that here," countered the clerk. 

What?!? Did I just hallucinate?  Did his smile just increase in intensity as if in direct proportion to my misery? 

"Why...why not?" I managed to mutter, somehow keeping any hint of burning rage out of my voice.

"Military protocols.  No outside food can be left on the base unattended."

"Are you serious"?" I said.  This day was never going to end. 

"Oh, I'm very serious,"  he replied.  His words would have carried more weight with me if not accompanied by a rictus grin.  

If I hadn't dealt with military types before in the past, I would have sworn he was pulling my leg.  But something told me he wasn't kidding around.

In the guy's defense he did call over to his AFF contact and confirm that they were all back over at the Main Office!  In other words, we'd inadvertently fed them already!  

I took a deep breath, thanked the office staff, took the elevator up one floor, tramped out into the pouring rain and got in the van.  I think Jodi was even more pissed off than I was as I shared my tale of futility with her.  The poor girl actually felt guilty, saying that she was the one who volunteered us to do the food delivery  mission, but I told her not to be so silly.  Neither of us had anticipated this classic example of the right hand clearly having no clue what that pesky left hand was doing.  Stupid left hand.   

Jodi dropped me off at home and I conked out for a bit.  

The weekend itself was fantastic.  First off, I finally had a chance to see a few movies.  I know, pretty nutty concept, huh?  

Friday night I caught Centurion (Reviewed here - Yer Grateful Host ) which was a fun but chowder-headed sword and sandals action romp.  On Saturday I spent some well-deserved time with my eternally patient better half.  That same day I got an email invitation from Krista in volunteer services, asking me if I wanted some free passes to a screening of Love and Death on Long Island on Sunday night.  I always wanted to see it since I knew it was partially shot in Bedford and Halifax.

As an added bonus star Jason Priestly and director Richard Kwietniowski would be on hand for a brief Q&A after the show.  My review can be found right here:  At the end of the screening I had a chance to ask the pair about John Hurt's remarkably funny turn in the film and kinda regret not being able to ask more about this original and consistently surprising little flick.

But little did I know that I'd get that chance after all...          



FAIL: Man, I wish that Friday's precipitation had been CHERRY CHOCOLATE RAIN instead!

No comments: