Friday, January 12, 2007

My Favourite Monty Python Skit...

Presenting...THE LION TAMER!

The 2007 Blizzard

Well, by now it would not be 'news' for me to tell you that we had the worst blizzard I have ever experienced in my life this past Wednesday. Though I am a little late in writing about it on here, I still want to preserve the memory of that day...for it was the first time I've ever come home from work on snow-mobile!

Actually, the day started normal enough. When the alarm went off Wednesday morning, Les told me there was only a 'skiff' of snow, and later when I ate my breakfast, I looked out and thought, 'maybe the storm has passed us by', it was lightly snowing with just a bit of wind. Sure visibility was reduced a bit when I drove to work, but I had definitely driven through worse before. Once I was at work I was pretty much oblivious to what was happening's like that most days once I get inside our downtown offices. But after lunch I heard a couple of administrative staff talking about their bus routes being shut down, and then a little after 1:30, I got the message from the OMP, we could go home as the city was closing down streets, but we should make sure to take work with us. I called home and told Les that I would pick up Amanda on my way. A few minutes later Les called me back to say that the school had also called saying that they were closing too and that we could pick her up. Les told me to drive safe, and I said 'of course, you know me, I'll go slow...'

I have driven through a lot of things, but I have never experienced anything like the drive home on Wednesday. One of the worst parts being driving north on Circle Drive between 22nd Street and 33rd. I could see nothing. The only way I stayed on the road was to look for the green street light poles that were every so often in the ditch. Somehow I got through and made my way to Amanda's school to pick up my girlie. Somehow, that is, with a few tears and lots of prayers a long the way...

Now, Amanda's school is only a few blocks from our house and so you would think that once I got there I was home-free. Well, I only wish that was true. The residential street I had to pull onto to get her from school was aweful and I had to pull on facing north, so we could barely see anything. We navigated around cars, got stuck and unstuck...only to find ourselves 2 car-links form where we could turn west to head home. But there was no getting further. These cars were ultimately abandoned in the centre of the road (the front one of which I couldn't even see). We tried to go around them and got horribly stuck ourselves. I kept going in and out of the vehicle trying to dig us out the best I could...all the while facing the gusting wind and snow from the north (I've never been colder...eyebrows and eyelashes frozen with ice-crystals). Everytime I'd pop back into the vehicle to warm up, I tried to keep it together and tell Amanda that everything would be ok. Nobody helped us..we tried to help a couple of others...and then, at one point I thought this man who walked up to our car was going to help us, but he just shouted foul language our way while puffing on his cigarette. Once I accepted that we wouldn't get through there, I tried to get us back to behind the two abandoned cars (once a car that was blocking us moved). In the process, I managed to turn the car around to try going up the road the other way...only to end up getting stuck again because I had to stop behind a van that seemed to get stuck and unstuck every few feet. The van had numerous people with shovels helping them, but no one even made a motion to help us. Eventually though a man walked up to the vehicle and told me I might as well give up, that even if I got unstuck, that there were so many vehicles stuck ahead of that van that we weren't going anywhere tonight. He said to just abandon the car. I said that I scared to do so because I had my daughter with me and I didn't think she could make the walk home in this. He said we could wait it out at his home around the corner with his wife, and he helped to push me so I could get unstuck and then I pulled the car as far over to the corner as I could.

Amanda and I then tried to walk to this gentleman's house, but eventually Amanda couldn't walk into the wind anymore, and we ducked into a nearby driveway and knocked on the door of a stranger (so much for all my efforts at teaching my daughter not to talk to strangers). These were kind strangers though, and they let us in and let me use the phone to call Les. Les wanted to come and get us right away, but it was no use, he would just get caught in this all too. We'd have to wait it out a bit and try to walk a little further later. Our hosts made us some hot chocolate and then looking out their front window said it was getting worse, so we should just come upstairs and watch some TV with them, that we wouldn't be going anywhere for quite a while. Once upstairs the man of the house commented that he remembered a bad snow storm in the 80's when the police let them use their snowmobiles on the streets. He wondered if that would happen again, so he called the city police and got their approval to take his sleds out. The next thing I knew, he and his wife were getting their snowmobiles out and bundled us up and took Amanda and I home. I've never been so thankful for the kindness of strangers in my life! And thankful to God too, because He did answer those prayers and kept us safe...even taking us to the one house that could actually get us home before dark that night:)

Friday, January 05, 2007

How Ironic...

Today we took back a DVD that Les received for Christmas to one of the local Christian bookstores here. When we tried to watch the DVD last night, it skipped in several places and so we didn't get very far. So today we took the DVD back hoping to be able to exchange it for another copy.

Since Christmas we have been to a few different stores to do returns and exchanges. Most seem to have fairly generous policies and were only too happy to help us out. I suppose that is why I'm still thinking about our experience at this "Christian" store today. It was quite the opposite. You see, when we approach the counter and explained the problem, the clerk didn't immediately try to remedy our problem and obtain a new DVD for us or provide us with a refund or a gift card for that matter. Rather, the clerk's response was to ask exactly where the skips were on the DVD as she would have to view the DVD herself before doing anything else. I explained where the skips were on the parts of the DVD we were able to watch (after a certain point, the skipping was so bad, the DVD was unwatchable). She then took the DVD to the back of the store to the children's area where they had TV and DVD player that was currently playing a Veggie Tales video. She then said that she would have to view these skips for herself. After I helped her with her own technical issues in operating the DVD player, I then showed her some of the skips on the DVD. Satisfied that there were indeed skips on the DVD, she did not proceed back to the cash register as I had hoped to help remedy the problem for us. Instead she said she would need to review this with her manager and could not promise that they would take the DVD back. In the end, they determined that they would replace the DVD for us, but, of course, they didn't have any in stock, so they would order one for us and call us when one came in. In the meantime, we got no refund, no gift card or in-store credit on the DVD return, just their word that they would call us when our new DVD came in...

We took their word, but the irony of it stuck with me. They certainly didn't take our word that the DVD skipped, and I guess that rubbed me a bit the wrong way. We've never had a problem returning anything this season at the secular stores we went to, but today, at this "Christian" store, we were treated suspiciously when we were simply returning a defective product, simply wanting a working version of the exact same thing. And all this in a place where there are books and cds galore on topics like grace and love, it felt more than just a little bit ironic to me.