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Toronto’s Megabus Greyhound Terminal is a stone’s throw from Yonge-Dundas Square.
To get to there, walk west on Dundas past all the glitzy billboards until you get to Bay. At the lights, cross to the west side and head north. Just past the line up at Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake Factory, watch for the entrance door on your left. Walk through and into the waiting area, and then take a right toward the glass doors. They’ll spill you out into the loading zone and the right platform for your bus.
At this station on Tuesday, June 13, fifty or so people stood in a queue that stretched the length of Platform 11, waiting to board the 7:15am Greyhound to Kitchener-Waterloo.
I was one of those people, and I was not happy. I shouldn’t have been in the line up.
Where I should have been was at Pearson Airport, queuing up to board the 7:55am Air Canada flight back to my No fixed address life and NOT taking a bus back to Waterloo. It didn’t help my dour mood that outside the terminal a tagline on a giant billboard reminded me of that fact… “Discover lobster, surfing and an ocean of possibilities. Discover your perfect Nova Scotia.”
Goddess. I’d just left Waterloo after spending five days readying my house for new tenants, and all I wanted was to go home to Nova Scotia. But there I was, nose filling with carbon monoxide whilst standing in a line up on Platform 11 with a motley crew of rag-tag strangers.
In front of me, a pink-haired woman stamped out a pre-7am smoke, while an impatient 20-something beard be-decked hipster tried to slip into the front of the line. A disapproving headshake from the driver sent him scurrying away, bag in tow.
At seven, the lineup began to inch forward. When I reached the driver, he grabbed my bag and waggled his fingers at me. I offered up my ticket, and after a quick glance, he flicked his cap toward the bus’s door with a wordless get on directive.
Obediently, I climbed the three steps into the belly of the Greyhound beast and settled into a window seat. Propping my knapsack on the aisle side to discourage company, I leaned my forehead on the window and reviewed the last 24 hours and why I was on that bus.
The short story was life had exploded into a literal and figurative shite-storm with one-after-the-other catastrophes. The balloon of best-laid summer plans had popped.
In Waterloo, I no longer had a tenant moving into the house. Meanwhile, back in Halifax at the Duncan house, I’d left behind a roof replacement in progress that had since spiraled into a nightmare roof rebuild of titanic dollars, and oh ya, when the lid was off the house and the upper walls exposed for a full visual, the roofer had discovered there was no insulation in the upper half of my house, even though I’d paid a company through the nose to do the job. And then last night… a kid-dult call came from Duncan Street, Halifax, informing me there’d been sewage explosion in the house, and the basement was ankle-deep and swimming in, well, no other way to say it, poop.
Two houses. Two provinces. Two disasters of epic proportions happening simultaneously.
After a shell-shocked, sleepless night weighing out which house needed me most, at 4am I’d gone online and purchased the ticket to Waterloo, electing to miss my flight and deal with that mess first. Meanwhile, after a frantic talk-me-off-the-ledge call to a Halifax friend whom I begged to be my fill-in on poop-watch until my return to Nova Scotia.
So there it was. An Amityville Horror sequel on steroids, me in the starring role.
Spot on departure time, the driver slid the bus past the billboard and its ironic Nova Scotia promise of perfection, and I pulled out my phone to begin the Halifax calls to insurance adjusters, emergency sewage clean up crews, and the roofer. After those calls , I switched to Waterloo mode, calling property managers and rental agents. When all was done that could be done to get the world upside right from inside a Greyhound bus, I made one last call.
“Hey. How’s it all going?” asked my friend Leslie from her warm, dry, fully intact and non-poop filled home.
First, let me say I never intended to be a scene in the making that morning. And yes, at some level I was aware that every person trapped on the bus had no choice but to bear witness to the undoing. Nonetheless, when I heard my best friend’s voice, out barfed a sniffle-sob-vomit, blow-by-blow account of all that had gone wrong. On that early morning Greyhound bus, I was the main attraction.
Trust me. Nothing is as harrowing as troubles exposed in confined spaces, especially when they belong to you.
After spending June cowering in the trenches dodging lumps of raw sewage and now nearing the end of July, I’m still waiting for what hasn’t killed me to make me stronger. Until it happens, consider me a car accident drive-by. Avert eyes accordingly and stop reading if you must.
Yes, I’m having some problems coming to terms with my unexpected summer of discontent.
Caveat emptor in mind, I’d done proper due diligence with the Halifax house just as I’d done with every one of the five houses I’ve purchased.
How could I have possibly known a lie detector test was in order or that I needed to hire a second inspector to ensure the one I hired did a proper inspection?
July finds me in the midst a lot of chasing down… There is the house inspector who assured me he’d inspected the roof and gave his word it was in fantastic shape, when in reality and believe it or not, he actually admitted he’d never stepped foot on the roof because, and I quote, “My ladder was too short.” Then there was the creative Trumpian fact versus fiction approach to the sale disclosure document, boxes check-marked to declare the house fully insulated and roof in tip-top shape. Oh, not to forget the insulation company that didn’t properly insulate the upper walls.
Bejeesus! The Duncan debacles makes it seem like I got off easy with the Waterloo house. I mean, all the tenants did was lie on the application. At least I caught them out before they moved into the house since an eviction notice would have likely have been in the cards had I not cut them loose.
Naturally, between coping with and wanting to flee the cluster ufck, I’ve been playing the pathologically pointless 20/20 hamster-wheel game of what-I-could-have-done-differently. A month second-guessing every decision I’ve ever made whilst raking myself over the it’s-your-own-damn-fault coals, and well, I’ve come up with nothing but a heap of woe-is-me soliloquies and zero useful insights. And though logic deems the past cannot be altered, it’s difficult to end the exercise, even though, ya, I’m getting really tired of me too.
After a recent and particularly misery-ridden rehash of my bum luck, a friend commented, “Ever think if everyone tossed their troubles in a pile and you had the chance to switch your own out for someone else’s that once you got a load of their crap you might be grateful to grab back your own and run for the hills?”
Everyone has poop to deal with now and again, albeit most don’t have to put on rubber boots and wade past floaters in their basement.
Summer shite-show aside, 56 finds me on the right side of the dirt, surrounded by a lot of loved ones. Coming up to my two-year Halifax and me anniversary, I’ve had a pretty magical go at this runaway life. And yes, though wallowing may be a natural step in processing, at some point you gotta pack away the moans and get on with life.
A couple of years from now, I expect the double whammy house calamity to have settled it into a well-told, jaw-dropping whopper of a go-to story. I’ll rustle it up at the dinner table, after we’ve eaten, and the telling will probably start something like this…
“Goddess… you think you have it rough? Lemme tell you about my Summer of Discontent. Okay… so one night, I’m in Toronto, sitting outside my son Cary and his partner Myra’s flat. Okay, I got a scotch and lit smoke in one hand and in the other I got my phone mashed up against my ear talking Sandy back in Halifax on the other end trying to talk me off the ledge. And no! I don’t smoke and yes, Cary and Myra, they were scared…”
In the meantime and until that day comes, I gotta get busy packing for the weekend. I’m going to New Brunswick with Donna Morrissey. And no, I don’t know much about where we’re going or what we’re doing, but hey, I expect it’ll be an adventure, and wherever we stay, I’m pretty sure the toilets won’t flush directly into a basement.
PS Thank you’s to Leslie, Cindy, Gail, Donna, Susan, Heather, Sabine, Bob, bro, Agnes, all the my kid-dults, along with every one else forced to listen to my moans this summer. Don’t worry… my default emotion is still happy. I miss it too, and I’m gonna get back there. And extra special thank you to the man who stood in my stead for poop duty.