Thursday, November 22, 2007

Ice Age

There is a freakishly early snowstorm blowing through Toronto today. We don’t see weather like this until January, normally. Days like this remind me of the time I worked in that unheated store over the worst part of the winter…

*cue wavy dissolve screen and synthesized flashback sound-effects*

Back in 1997, in immediate need of a way to pay my rent, I accepted a position at a very run-down health-food store. The owner was a sweet, religious woman. Many of her customers were disabled by chronic illnesses, and had very little money. She sold food and remedies to them almost at cost.

The building was drafty; the floors were uneven and creaky; and there were infestations of every type of pest. Because the store barely made any profit, the owner saved money by not using the furnace during the wintertime. I wore as many layers as I could pile on, but I still frickin’ froze every day.

There was a scruffy, calico cat who was allowed to sleep in the store, in exchange for keeping the mice, roaches, and rats (yes, BIG RATS, I’m not joking) under control. This cat would drag his prey up to the counter to show off in front of customers. I would excuse myself to get the broom and dustpan. I remember apologizing to a half-dead rat, for leaving him outside in a snow bank to freeze to death. I didn’t have the nerve to kill him quickly. I told him, as I scraped his limp body into the snow, “I’ve heard hypothermia isn’t such a bad way to go.”

I was so cold that I encouraged the scruffy cat to climb up onto my shoulders and lie curled around my neck while I worked. A few flea bites weren’t too high a price to pay in exchange for some precious, extra heat. I had to be careful, ringing up and bagging items with slow, deliberate movements, so that the cat wouldn’t slide off. He was a heavy son-of-a-gun, too.

I worked there for two and a half months, from January through mid-March, before I managed to get a job somewhere with heat.

1 comment:

jameil1922 said...

brrr!! i don't react well to cold.