I was very pleased to see that the last three I AM AWESOME! tabs from the Hulk Hogan poster in the elevator at work have been yanked off sometime today between 7:45 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. Yay!
Also I was pleased to see that the poster outside of the elevator on the 1st floor with a smiling icon-man walking up stairs, with the slogan “Have You Taken The Stairs Lately?” has been shredded by what looks like a large cat. Mwahahaaa. I thought it was funny and by the time I picked up the camera to preserve that moment for all time it had been removed. No matter, there are four floors, four elevators, and four shameful posters. Well, three posters.
Okay, two posters since I reproduced the tattered state of the first poster I saw as best I could from memory. For posterity. I didn’t tear it originally but I did have plans to deface it. My defacing plans were to write a word-bubble on a sticky note that came out of stick-man’s head that would say “nope.” I think the shredded poster, held up by a few remains of original tape, sends a clearer message home.
It’s not like even 10% of employees in my office are overweight. For crying out loud there’s so many people who walk or cycle to work. To this day I cannot wash the image out of my brain of a co-worker getting ready to bicycle home at the end of the day at least four years ago. He caught me glancing at his legs and he said, “yeah, I’m pretty skinny, right?” What’s the right thing to say to that when clearly his spandex shorts were flapping in the wind? My point is if I walked two miles to work or bicycled 8 km and treated myself to an elevator ride I’d be shredding the poster too.
The placement of the guilt-inducing “Have You Taken The Stairs Lately” posters right outside of the elevators was a low blow, and I like to think the WHO IS AWESOME? YOU ARE AWESOME! poster in the elevator validated the down-trodden folks who still took the elevator. I wish I could see the expressions on their faces. I imagine it went like this: person walks up to the elevator thinking about work-related tasks with maybe a furrowed brow, sees the bright red shame-on-you poster with the stupid smiling man with a heart two sizes too big and decides to take the elevator anyway, and their facial expression changes to quivering chin and probably rapid blinking as they press the elevator button and consider how they have not only failed at lifestyle perfection but they have let their father / son / cat / therapist / junior high teacher who really believed in them down, then a look of disbelief as Hulk Hogan welcomes them into the elevator, and they look over both shoulders and then point to themselves as they mouth “me?”; the disbelief erupts into pure joy and unabashed self-esteem as they discover that Hulk Hogan, paragon of virtue and physical fitness, thinks that they, yes they, are awesome.
I was waiting for my bus downtown and a man approached me. He explained that he had just come to the city on the Greyhound from Calgary and asked me for money.
I wanted to ask him if Calgary knew he was wearing a Winnipeg Jets t-shirt.
The winter ad on the bus shelter where I hop on the bus downtown featured that bright yellow public service ad encouraging us all to get tested and treated for free. Not only was it a sunshiny yellow to brighten my spirits when the skies were so dismally gray but it was educational, too. The next time I’m in a social setting where there’s an awkward silence I’ll pipe up with my new Cliff-Claven-esque tidbits such as it’s a little known fact that the highest rate of chlamydia in Winnipeggers is in 15-24 year olds, and you may have chlamydia and not know it. Also, there is not a “K” in chlamydia (which was news to me).
With the change of the season we have a change of bus shelter ad. Now there is an organ donor ad and it has a life-size photo of an organ recipient and a bit of information. The guy is looking at the camera and smiling a bit. It’s fine really, as far as bus shelter ads go. But when I wait for the bus downtown I’m pretty much always alert to the people around me, always on the lookout for a weirdo (thank you past experience). So I stand on the corner of Main Street and Something Avenue and face north to watch for my bus, and I get the feeling that someone is watching me, staring at me, smiling a little, not moving. I look around by rolling my eyes from side to side without moving my head (completely discreet-like) and see that someone is watching me – the organ recipient. Oh yeah, there he is, and he’s not real (I mean, he’s not really here in the flesh, but he is a real guy), and I’m just now noticing that someone has thrown a liquid at his face and it stuck to the glass covering the ad. Silly me, paranoid over nothing. Ha ha. Is that my bus coming next? No? No. Oookay, just waaaaiting at the bus stop, minding my own business.
Don’t look now but someone has been looking at me for at least 20 seconds, which is 18 seconds longer than needed if they’re not going to strike up a conversation with me. Maybe I should strike up a conversation with them. I could helpfully open the conversation with “Why don’t you take a picture? It’ll last longer.” That’s gold! I’m going to. Oh hang on, it’s just him again. Still staring at me and smiling serenely at me.
And now it’s creepy.
And I’m a jerk for thinking the well-meaning organ donor folks put out creepy ads, but there it is.
Hi! I’m Marcy and I like the prairies.
I’ve lived in the Canadian prairies always. I grew up in the farmland area south of Winnipeg. I made the geographically small transition to living in Winnipeg several years ago. The other aspects of transitioning were surprisingly bigger.
There will come a day when I will have lived in the city longer than I have lived in the country. Perhaps on that day I will be very city-ish and able to throw my country cautions to the wind. Until then I will most likely continue to tilt my head, slack-jawed, and be in wonder at city ways.
For all our differences, one thing prairie country folk and prairie city folk do share is our two-faced relationship with the rest of the world. On the one hand we are an apologetic people to the rest of the world, apologetic for things that are ridiculously out of our control like the flat topography and extreme climate. On the other hand we do live here, we work here and raise families here and put down roots here, so we do love it and will thank you to keep your prairie jokes to yourself. I didn’t mean you, of course. You’re great. I meant stand-up comedians whose bit begins and ends with this one sentence: “I drove across the prairies last summer and…man!” The End. That is his entire joke. Sure he includes an I’m-sleeping facial expression, but that’s the extent of the joke, and the audience laughs. If the comedian is in a prairie city the audience will titter or even give a full-on pity laugh, but secretly it’s not that funny to us.
You know what can be funny when driving across the prairies? Being on a ten-hour drive in the dark between Manitoba and Saskatchewan and thinking your eyes played tricks on you because you almost think the headlights shone on a cow on the shoulder of the road. You blink and there definitely is another cow, right there. And another. You wake up your car mate so she can look at the cattle on the shoulder and in the ditch, and also so that you can have another eye-witness to vouch for the story later on. I’m not saying this is stand-up-comic-gold, I’m just saying when spun right my friends laugh more when I tell them that story versus when I say, “How ’bout that flat land we drove on today?” even with accompanying I’m-sleeping facial expression.
I do like the prairies. My apologetic side is getting smaller, and my proud like of the prairies is getting larger. I hope you like where you live, too.
Prairie Likey Reason #1:
In a place that presents itself as predictable and honest as the landscape, it is possible to be surprised by a misplaced herd of cattle.