One of the first jobs I had when I landed in Edmonton was working for an organization that provided services to handicapped adults. This place was a for-profit organization, which meant pay the employees as little as possible and only spend what is absolutely necessary, thus keeping the profit margin high. I cannot emphasize enough how horrible a for-profit system is in this context. It was a miserable experience and I will write more on this in the future. Today’s post is all about hand-to-stinger combat.
I was taking the bus all over the city looking for a better job. I was always looking for a better job. I made my way to a school/day program that I heard wasn’t a salt mine of sorts and had a reputation for treating the employees with a modicum of decency. And that’s all I was looking for: just a modicum. In my backpack I carried a map and my resume. (Please read the following sentence in the voice of a very old man): For you young folk out there, before smart phones, tablets, and even e-mail, a person often had to read a map, trace out a route, phone the Transit office, on a land line if you can believe it! Hop on the bus and tell the driver where you want to go (if you are not familiar with the route) and often they would announce your upcoming stop. The bus drivers in Edmonton are some of the friendliest and most decent people I’ve met.
So in my job applying jeans and smartest shirt I dropped off my resume and exchanged some pleasantries with the human resources person. I felt good. It was a warm day and though I spent most of my free time looking for work, things could be a whole lot worse.
I walked along the sidewalk until I got to my stop. I was alone. Or at least it appeared so. That’s when I saw them. A gang of wasps congregating around a nearby garbage can. There must have been about twenty or so. And they looked big, like maybe they worked out a lot, no cardio, just weights, slinging heavy plates and maybe dabbling in steroids. Fuckers. I hate wasps. In fact ever since being attacked, while riding my bike, by a red-winged blackbird when I was 9, I hate anything that can fly and hurt me. And all that hate is really just fear. Like a panic fear that is irrational and adrenaline inducing. One bee flying close to me will trigger screaming and limb flailing that is part Viking berserker and part art student interpretive dance.
I tried to ignore them. Do not make eye contact I told myself. Play it cool Johnny boy, you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you. What a crock of shit. Of course they will bother you. The wasp is an asshole. A dick. He can’t help himself. I pretended to be keenly interested in my bus schedule pamphlet when of these motherless bastards flew right at my face. And then the fight was on. It’s go time, fuckers. In a blind rage/panic I threw a hard punch at Mr. Wasp but did not take into account that he was about a half inch from my eye. He quickly dodged my blow and I practically knocked myself out. The blow made a popping thud sound and I could feel my eye start to swell as I growled and screamed at my assailant. I swear I heard him laugh as he flew over to his buddies who were no doubt enjoying the show.
At that moment I looked up to see my bus pulling away, the passengers staring at me, some open mouthed, some shaking their heads. I don’t know how much they saw but I am so grateful that camera phones were still a few years away. Sadly, I learned nothing from this. I would do the exact same thing today and feel completely justified in my anger because the wasp always starts it, and one of these days I’ll get lucky and in the process of punching myself in the face, I might kill one of those flying demons.