Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Roland down the road to work

IRIS WATCHERWOMAN: Fur the love of Pete, she doesn't abide anybody dogging it.

I miss going to the office.

I'm not complaining. I love my job and the fact that I can do it from home makes it all the more enviable. Also, if you know me you know I don't use the word love unless I mean it.

Here's why I love my work. 

All day long, I deal with some of the smartest and most well-intentioned people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting; people who want to make the world a better place and who believe that telling stories is a good way to do that.  

Most days I exchange emails, texts and conversations with these extraordinarily articulate folks often about big ideas like right and wrong but also about what's funny; what's not and what our families are up to.

My friend Baxter Naday once  put it this way "You do the same sorts of things when you're not at work as you do on the job." 

I mostly do my job from the comfort of my living room couch, with Iris the cat near at hand. Plus I listen to music while I work. All day.

The vast majority of the people I work with are in Canada but I also regularly deal with colleagues in South Africa,  Italy, The Philippines and Zimbabwe.

And get this: Somebody pays me to do it. Every two weeks! Real folding money. 

And it's always the right amount. They never pay me less than they say they're going to; and the money arrives on time! 

Who in the history of humankind has had a more luxurious lifestyle? With clean clothes, deodorant? A furnace that works and all the food I can possibly ever want a few steps away?

I was going to write a column about how I miss commuting to work because last week, one of the really interesting people I work with; an Ottawa-area lawyer named Juliana Saxberg (I love that elegant name) asked if I miss going into the office.

I wrote:

"I love going to the office. I think I'm a better person for the experience. Smarter, funnier, wiser, fitter, I hear more jokes and juicier gossip, and in fact I  dress up prettier because I go out in public. It keeps my driving skills honed and I get to see the changing city landscape and the everchanging variety of motor vehicles that occupy our roadways. PLUS I listen to radio in the car and NEVER listen to radio at home. Morning show deejays are the hippest people on the planet. Plus the diner downstairs at 111 Gordon Baker Road is owned and operated by a European trained chef and nothing that comes out of that place bland. He makes the best hamburgers in Toronto. There's dozens of varieties of free coffee at work and stuff--copiers, toilets, power sources--works! But mostly it's the people. Every individual is like a beautiful blossoming flower and I am a social bumblebee. Yesterday, one of our colleagues at Gordon Baker, a relatively new Canadian named Roland who emigrated from Cameroon a few years ago, said to me in his deep voice and that great African accent "people with a positive attitude like you live a long time, Peter." I never heard that before. And I wouldn't have heard it yesterday had I not gone into work. Yeah, you might say I miss the office." 

And that is the kind of email I spend my days writing. 

See what I mean about not having anything to complain about? 

I heard a gerontologist last week say that there are more than 10,000 Canadians over 100 years old. Ten thousand!  Imagine. When my grandmother Carter turned 90, she got a letter from the queen. 

I sure hope Roland's right.  

I forget what it was I started writing about.


Thursday, January 18, 2024

A jeep called Glenda

My cousin Glenda MacIsaac, who lives in a village called Lively on the outskirts of my hometown of Sudbury, nailed this morning's Wordle puzzle on her first guess.  

It took me four. 

Also--and this happens a lot--by the time Glenda'd sent me her result, I'd already forgotten what the winning word was. 

Anyway, I'm super proud of Glenda for a whole bunch of reasons, the least of which is her Wordle-iness. 

She's going to kill me when she reads the following but Glenda's one of those beautiful inside and out people who go through life quietly doing good work, helping others, making people laugh, challenging herself and being humbly brilliant. (After she showed us that she won with the word "stole," this morning, she added, "I meant to write store but hit l instead of r.")

Among the many cool things you should know about Glenda is she was named after a jeep. 

True fact! Glenda was the only girl born to one of my favourite uncles, Alex MacIsaac, and his wife Marie. Her brothers were given proud traditional handles: Donald, James, Andrew and the eldest everybody called Sandy but who was in fact baptized Alexander after his dad. 

Alex the dad, meantime, was in the forces and saw a jeep called Glenda. Alex was so taken by the name when his and Marie's second youngest child arrived, they called her after an all terrain-vehicle. Which sorta suits her. 

ROSE AND ME: Note: This photo was taken before Wordle 
Back to the word thing.

My daughter Ria introduced me to Wordle in 2021. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you this simple diversion, which is now owned by the New  York Times, has made my life immeasurably richer. 

But not for the reason you might think.

(Yeah, yeah, I know. With every punch of a Wordle key I'm ceding over my entire life's data to some big organization to do who knows what with. I say, have at it.)

Since I started doing these things, the five-letter-word puzzle in the morning has replaced a first cup of coffee. Wordle kickstarts my brain.

And something that's way more important? 

Shortly after getting out of bed, every morning for the past I'm embarrassed to admit how many months, Glenda, I and one of our other cousins, Roseanne Rice in Halifax, swap Wordle results.  

(Rose Rice. I know. Sounds like a car. Except a Rolls Royce doesn't make sound. I just thought of that.) 

Pre-Wordle, I was in touch with Glenda and Rose maybe when an aunt died or a nephew won something, or every Boxing Day, which is when Halifax always seems to lose its power so we have to check in to see if the family's okay. 

Mostly though, contact was a few times a year at best.  

Since Wordle?

Every single day. Invariably, when we share results, we trade family gossip, condolences, or whatever the opposite of condolences are, or sarcastic notes. I'm absolutely sure that these simple daily messages are good for our spiritual, mental, physical and social health. 

If my math's not wrong, I'm talking about more than a thousand individual hi-have-a-nice-day-I-love-you messages.

For me, Wordle means daily connection with people I love deeply and who, I'm hoping, feel the same. 

I don't care who you are. Being reminded you're loved is the absolute best way to start your day.