Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Closing of Three Chapters

Next week I am moving to a place that will allow me to formally adopt Corner Gas's opening music as my own personal theme song. It's a place so tiny it doesn't even pretend to be a town. It proudly proclaims itself, legally and otherwise, to be a village.

This will be a new chapter of life. However, one can't start a new chapter of life without closing an old one. In this case, at least three old ones. Well, four if you count living at home with your parents, but that isn't the primary focus of this post. The three focuses of this post are my church, the Distress Centre, and Tim Horton's.
I'm not leaving church, mind you, just the one I've been attending since I was twelve. They don't have a satellite church in my village, so attending would be difficult. I had my final shift at the DC the other afternoon. I will miss that place. And Tim Horton's I actually left in May and just neglected to mention the fact. I don't miss it and don't intend to ever go back, but I do have many fond memories of the place.

There are a lot of memories from both places, with many similarities and many differences. I could write a book comparing them, but I'll keep it short.

At my church, I shredded quite a bit of paper.
At the DC, I made a lot of paper for someone else to shred.
At Tim's, I swept up pieces of ripped up napkins.

At my church, I usually wore at least kinda nice shoes.
At the DC, I wore whatever random shoes I felt like.
At Tim's, I wore the same stinking pair of second-hand shoes for five years.

At my church, I knew how to get into almost anywhere, whether I legitimately had a key or not.
At the DC, I had a card key but could only get into the phone room. 
At Tim's there was only one room to get to. But I did know the supposedly secret code to manipulate the registers.

Moving away will really confuse me. Timmy's and church camps have been my pretty steady provider of sleeping t-shirts for a good number of years. Where am I supposed to get my pajamas from now?

A person is changed when they spend large amounts of time in the same few places. As it is, I now have phantom phone syndrome. The phantom phone syndrome is kind of like having phantom limb sensations, except instead of feeling like you should still have all your limbs, you feel like you should be picking up the phone.

 Being the temporary church secretary meant that I was constantly running back into the office, believing that I heard the phone ringing when in fact, it was silent. Being a crisis line volunteer meant that I was constantly checking my system during slow shifts to make sure I had remembered to log in, as if the seventh time I checked wasn't sufficient.
Working drive-thru at Tim's didn't contribute to the phantom phone thing. That headset would go
in my ear so loudly that I'd jump whenever a car pulled up. I had no problem telling when that sucker was on or off. But it did contribute to my inability to answer the phone correctly. I told several distressed crisis callers they had phoned Tim Horton's. In my desperation to not ask coffee customers about their crises, I stumbled through the drive-thru greetings so poorly that sometimes it barely sounded English. My international coworkers sniggered at me. And I had to actively remind myself of my church's name whenever I answered the office phone because my pastor could hear me talking.

I don't know how long this effect will last. If you call me and I pick up but don't immediately say anything, it's probably because I'm trying to remember where I am.

Each place had its own quirks, personalities, and dangers. Tim Horton's was easily the most stressful of the three places to be. I mean, sure, the Distress Centre had the occasional, "No, no, please don't kill yourself!" moment, but not every call was like that. At Tim Horton's, the stress was constant. In fact, it was at Tim's that I first learned to identify whether I was stressed or not. For at least several hours every shift, there was considerable pressure to go fast, do it correctly, interact politely with crazy customers and simultaneously do seven other things fast and correctly and politely. Plus, there were exploding creamers, shattering coffee pots, jets of boiling liquid, sharp knives, and toasters hot enough to brand you. You took your physical well-being into your own hands every time you showed up to work.

The church also had a few dangerous points over the years. A random creepy man that turned out to be a criminal hanging out in the foyer. An angry neighbour that shot his pellet gun at kids in the youth group. A not-quite-dead pet animal someone abandoned in the dumpster. That time I used Sharpies in an enclosed room for way too long. Not to mention the ever-present hypothetical possibility of someone drowning in the baptismal tank. But Timmy's wins hands down for being the toughest job. Though, they did pay me.

These three places changed me in other ways, too. They were all learning experiences. I took away a lot of knowledge and wisdom from the Distress Centre. I had to exercise considerable mental energies to navigate sensitive conversations and help the callers begin to sort through their messes of life. I got some of that at church, too. We had interesting and challenging conversations on ethics and theology. I got a lot of practical experience leading people and being on a team. After five years at Timmy Ho's, I still don't know how to make a pot of coffee. Don't look at me like that. It's rather more simple at Tim's than in real life, you know.

It is time to move on. As much as I hate to say goodbye and maybe our paths with cross again, for now I must bid farewell. To the people involved with my life in these places, thank you. I'll see you when I see you.
"It is a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." J. R. R. Tolkien


Art said...

This is a new chapter starting for me too. I hope you call fairly often. I am fairly sure you will enjoy this new chapter in your life.

Anonymous said...

I hope you find the Sam to your Frodo.

Wilkie said...

Keep up the blog posts while you're gone, C! You'll be missed! Love you! <3