Sunday, June 10, 2018

What does yoga mean to me? Chapter 24 - Liar

How could I have been surprised? Sitting in this office and watching my contract get torn up in pieces was absolutely inevitable.
This behaviour was something I had witnessed for years, the way the brothers had routinely dealt with employees, suppliers and clients alike; bald faced lying, broken promises and broken contracts, constant threats of legal action to keep people from suing them first, credit accounts always past due and cut off, even rumours of dealings with biker gangs and other potentially worse criminal activity.
Sitting in this chair now there was shock to be sure, in the past I had always felt immune to it all. I hadn’t been unscathed by any means but I had always kept my head down and stayed out of the way so for the most part I avoided their chaos.
However, I was more than aware of the valued colleagues abused, stolen from and lied to; the beloved clients who had walked away after one lie too many from the faces of the company.
This time it was my turn, I had been set up and I had been too naïve and arrogant to see it coming.

So here I was, I had painted myself into a corner. The middle brother was still ranting but I was too stunned to listen closely. I was reeling and started to panic as I realized my stark options - slink home in shame, swallow my pride and admit defeat, but resume an admittedly comfortable if problematic life?

Stay and endure complete humiliation working for a madman?

Or was there a third option, a Hail Mary?

I quickly headed home to pack a bag and left for Edmonton that morning. Bob had coached and tutored me all year, it was his vision of my future I had bought into; how could he not be my advocate now and step in on my behalf?
The nine-hour drive back was torture, and I was at the Edmonton office at 6am so I could be the first thing Bob dealt with.
He pulled into the parking lot at 8am sharp and as soon as I saw his face I knew I was completely and totally fucked…it was clear the brothers had been on the phone getting their story straight and now it was his turn to twist the knife.

-          I was Kelowna’s problem now, I didn’t work for Bob anymore so there was nothing he could do even if he wanted to, what was I even doing in Edmonton without permission, I hadn’t cleared the trip with the Kelowna office and they were now considering firing me, did I realize how much trouble I was in… - 

In hindsight, I could have walked into a dozen offices in Edmonton and been hired that afternoon. Realistically though there was no way I was mentally prepared to face my friends and family and admit that everything I had worked for and planned for that summer was a lie.

I got back in the car and started the long drive back and this time the drive was far worse. There was no mistaking what my next meeting was going to be like; I was either going to be fired or accept a job working for one of the worst people I had ever known.

There were no surprises this time. I was written up for insubordination, the original contract offer was officially rescinded due to the written warning now on my file (WTF?) and my new job would be selling for him in the Kelowna and South Okanagan. There would be no salary, I would work for commission only and I would receive no leads from the office, I was expected to door knock everyday to find my sales. I knew how hard my job had just become but I accepted anyway.







"Liar" Built to Spill

I wouldn't be a liar
No, I wouldn't be a liar
If I told you that
I wouldn't be a liar

When things are all you think of
And plans are all you make
And thoughts are all you dream of
Your falls are all you take

Look out, the world's destroying you
Relax, it isn't fair
Mother nature's disposition
She don't mind, she don't care

She don't mind, she don't care

I wouldn't be a liar
No, I wouldn't be a liar
If I told you that
I wouldn't be a liar

Passing over, passions pour
Passing everything
I wouldn't be a liar
No, I wouldn't be a liar
If I told you that

It takes up all of your life
These decisions you make
It takes up all of a day
Making them all

Well, outside on the patio
The piano's weeping too
Forget about it all for a little while
She don't mind, she don't care

She don't mind, she don't care
She don't mind, she don't care

And I wouldn't be a liar
No, I wouldn't be a liar
If I told you that
I wouldn't be a liar

You see, it seems minor to me
You see, it seems minor to me
You see, it seems minor to me
You see, it seems minor



Sunday, May 28, 2017

What does yoga mean to me? Chapter 25 - Drunk Driver

Presented without context or comment;

·         March 1989 - DUI .24
·         May 1989 - DUI .14
·         July 2001 - 24 Hr. Roadside Suspension
·         May 2009 – 24 Hr. Roadside Suspension
·         December 2009 – DUI .17
·         March 2011 – 24 Hr. Roadside Suspension







"Drunk Drivers / Killer Whales" Car Seat Headrest


In the backseat of my heart
My love tells me I'm a mess
I couldn't get the car to start
I left my keys somewhere in the mess

It comes and goes in plateaus
One month later I'm a fucking pro
My parents would be proud
Or fall asleep on the floor
Forget what happened in the morning
There are notes in your handwriting
But you can't make it out

We are not a proud race
It's not a race at all
We're just trying
I'm only trying to get home
Drunk drivers, drunk drivers
This is not a good thing
I don't mean to rationalize
Or try and explain it away
It's not OK
Drunk drivers, drunk drivers

It's too late to articulate it
That empty feeling
You share the same fate as the people you hate
You build yourself up against others' feelings
And it left you feeling empty as a car coasting downhill
I have become such a negative person
It was all just an act
It was all so easily stripped away

But if we learn how to live like this
Maybe we can learn how to start again
Like a child who's never done wrong
Who hasn't taken that first step

We are not a proud race
It's not a race at all
We're just trying
I'm only trying to get home
Drunk drivers, drunk drivers
Put it out of your mind
And perish the thought
There's no comfort in responsibility
Drunk drivers, drunk drivers

It doesn't have to be like this
It doesn't have to be like this
It doesn't have to be like this
Killer whales, killer whales
It doesn't have to be like this
It doesn't have to be like this
It doesn't have to be like this

Here's that voice in your head
Giving you shit again
But you know he loves you
And he doesn't mean to cause you pain
Please listen to him
It's not too late
Turn off the engine
Get out of the car
And start to walk

Drunk drivers





Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mothers Day 2017






Exactly 20 years ago on May 13, 1997 I received my cancer diagnosis, and my mom received hers just 2 short months after mine. 14 months later she was gone at age 55.

Today she would have been 74 and its still unfathomable that she’s been out of our lives this long, that I can’t pick up the phone and hear her voice, that we can’t share in the joy of another Oilers playoff run, watch her dance at one of Kevin’s concerts, or that she wasn’t there beaming with pride and cheering at the top of her lungs at Kevin’s wedding last month, and feel the overwhelming love she would have shared with his new bride Tricia.

I’m now approaching the same age she was when she passed and it gives me a frightening new perspective; how truly young she was when she faced this death sentence and how terrified she must have been, and how devastated she was when realizing how much of our lives she was going to miss out on.

It’s taken me a long time to overcome my bitterness at her passing and my survivors guilt for having outlived her, to come full circle to the realization that I was so blessed to have had a loving mother always in my life at every turn while she was here.  Her love and support were always unconditional and she was the one who prepared me to be the man I have eventually become.

Since the day she died, special occasions like Mother’s Day and Christmas have never been the same for me. In this age of social media it’s a constant barrage of happy wishes and photos and I just haven’t been able to not feel grief, regret and anger on these occasions. 

So today I pledged that I would sit alone with my thoughts and really meditate on changing my perspective.

I sought to feel gratitude for my great health and the extra 20 years I’ve been gifted, to allow myself to feel her pride in my recovery from rock bottom a few short years ago, and feel the bliss of knowing she was there and fully a part of the wedding ceremony in her own way. I believe with all my heart that she has never really left me and today I could feel her great joy in the path my life has taken.

As the day wore on I did feel the weight lift; I was able to enjoy the Okanagan sunshine and the smiles of the happy families walking by the studio and really share in the joy so many people feel on days like this.


Today, for the first time in 20 years, I can sincerely and authentically say Happy Mother’s Day.





"Over and Away She Goes" Bill Fox

Over and away she goes, over and away she often goes
And leaves me here, inside a drink
To find another sense of wonder, wonder why she goes?

Over and away she moves, spilling grooves and taking chances there
It’s not her hair I’m tangled in
It’s just another sense of wonder, I wonder why she goes?

She moves and drives, she drives and moves around
No wonder, no wonder for the sounds

Hoping dearly she returns, in every place my body burns
Over wild, over snow
It’s just another sense of wonder, wonder why she goes?

Back and forth the wheels roll out, and my heart is filled with doubt
Change my clothes, blow my nose
It’s just another sense of wonder, wonder why she goes?





Sunday, September 18, 2016

Down in a Hole

It all finally came to a head last week, sitting in my car in front of the yoga studio...paralyzed and hyperventilating, in the middle of a full on anxiety attack.

This is insane, get a fucking grip…this is a safe place, they know you, its just a yoga class…but no, I slowly put the car in drive and slink home, now furious at myself for how ridiculous this all is.

It was a culmination though, and if I could ignore it and slough it off for most of the summer now it was staring me dead in the face. The signs were all there and I was quite familiar with them. I had slipped back into depression, a minor slump compared to my past but it was real nonetheless. All summer long I had struggled with a lack of ambition, I had abandoned my daily yoga practise and I was spending most of my free time alone on the couch and stuck in my head.

When I was told this would be a year of big changes I could only imagine the positive possibilities and set out to make this a landmark year in my life. The card readings and my own angel cards had correctly predicted great changes but the reality was the changes were positive and negative; a year of two steps forward two steps back, amazing great fortune and personal growth but tied equally to great tragedy and loss.

The positives are beyond all expectations and I am grateful for all of the abundance I’ve been given; a great new job with a team that values me and offers me the flexibility to pursue all of my goals, my new career teaching yoga at studios that value my contributions and fellow students who look forward to being on the mat with me, family and friends who love me, mentors who understand me and never fail to challenge and guide me.

Yet inevitably I find myself dwelling in the deep negative recesses; being surrounded by loving friends and family and yet having to deal with the loss of two loved ones in less than a month, my amazing new job came after quitting a good company and being fired by another in rapid succession, my fulfilling and rewarding teacher training came about as a result of having to abandon my goal of travelling to Bali, my great new career teaching yoga leaving me feeling at times like a fraud who had nothing new to offer the community. Intellectually I can recognize the futility and foolishness of dwelling there but depression doesn't live in the intellect. 

Sobriety has no downside, and not drinking means having to feel the pain close to the bone. The days where I would have medicated myself into a stupor are long gone, so I can recognize the panic attack as a wake up call. A chance to see the symptoms for what they are and to retrace the steps that took me back into the light the last time I traveled this path.

A quick check of the calendar sees the year of big happy changes isn’t over yet, time still to see what else it has in store...







Down in a Hole – Alice in Chains


Bury me softly in this womb
I give this part of me for you
Sand rains down and here I sit
Holding rare flowers
In a tomb... in bloom

Down in a hole and I don't know if I can be saved
See my heart I decorate it like a grave
Oh, you don't understand who they thought I was supposed to be
Look at me now I'm a man who won't let himself be

Down in a hole, feeling so small
Down in a hole, losing my soul
I'd like to fly,
But my wings have been so denied

Down in a hole and they've put all the stones in their place
I've eaten the sun so my tongue has been burned of the taste
I have been guilty of kicking myself in the teeth
I will speak no more of my feelings beneath

Down in a hole, feeling so small
Down in a hole, losing my soul
I'd like to fly but my
Wings have been so denied

Bury me softly in this womb
Oh I want to be inside of you
I give this part of me for you
Oh I want to be inside of you
Sand rains down and here I sit
Holding rare flowers (Oh I want to be inside of you)
In a tomb... in bloom
Oh I want to be inside...

Down in a hole, feeling so small
Down in a hole, losing my soul
Down in a hole, feeling so small
Down in a hole, out of control
I'd like to fly but my
Wings have been so denied


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Marlene (Corbett) McMann February 16, 1943 - September 6, 1998



Mom’s anniversary, 18 years ago today…

A particularly poignant anniversary as I begin to approach the age she was when she passed away.

I’ve fought so many exhausting battles over 18 years with the conflicted feelings this death and this anniversary bring...

Some I have finally been able to abandon and let go
Some I’ve resolved and come to grips with
Some are just newly revealed to me this year

I still miss her every day, there are so many times I’ve wished I could share accomplishments and personal growth with her…just grab the phone and call her to hear her say she was proud…

Too many family celebrations and milestones tick by without her beaming smile...

Too many family tragedies that would have been easier to cope with if she had just been there…particularly considering the events this summer...

18 years, the age I was when I first moved away from home and the place I wish every day I could return to…



This Woman's Work – Kate Bush

Pray God you can cope
I stand outside this woman's work
This woman's world
Ooh, it's hard on the man
Now his part is over
Now starts the craft of the father

I know you've got a little life in you yet
I know you've got a lot of strength left
I know you've got a little life in you yet
I know you've got a lot of strength left

I should be crying, but I just can't let it show
I should be hoping, but I can't stop thinking

Of all the things I should've said
That I never said
All the things we should've done
Though we never did
All the things I should've given
But I didn't
Oh, darling, make it go
Make it go away

Give me these moments back
Give them back to me
Give me that little kiss
Give me your hand

(I know you have a little life in you yet)
(I know you have a lot of strength left)
(I know you have a little life in you yet)
(I know you have a lot of strength left)

I should be crying, but I just can't let it show
I should be hoping, but I can't stop thinking

Of all the things we should've said
That we never said
All the things we should've done
Though we never did
All the things that you needed from me
All the things that you wanted for me
All the things that I should've given
But I didn't
Oh, darling, make it go away

Just make it go away now

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Carol Corbett October 21, 1947 - August 23, 2016




The above picture was taken at Christmas in 1996. It seems like literally yesterday but of course it was two decades ago; and yet that still seems like such a cruelly short time when I reflect on the photo and the fact that four beloved family members in the shot have now all passed. My mother, my grandmother, my wife and my aunt were all constants in my life, people I cherished and loved and missed when they were alive and now each of them have moved on to the next room to have a conversation and a laugh just out of earshot, I can hear them whispering but I can’t make them out tonight…







Light Years – Pearl Jam

I've used hammers made out of wood
I have played games with pieces and rules
I've deciphered tricks at the bar
But now you're gone
I haven't figured out why
I've come up with riddles
And jokes about war
I've figured out numbers and what there for
I've understood feelings
And I've understood words
But how could you be taken away

And wherever you've gone
And where ever we might go
It don't seem fair
Today just disappeared
Your lights reflected now
Reflected from a far
We were but stones
Your light made us stars

With heavy breath
Awakens regrets
Back pages and days alone the could've been spent
Together but we were miles apart
Every inch between becomes light years now
No time to be void
Or save up on life
Uh you've got to spend it all

And wherever you've gone
And where ever we might go
It don't seem fair
You seem to like it here
Your lights reflected now
Reflected from a far
We were but stones
Your light made us stars

And wherever you've gone
And wherever we might go
It don't seem fair
Today just disappeared
Your lights reflected now
Reflected from a far
We were but stones
Your light made us stars















Saturday, July 2, 2016

Angela (Somerville) McMann – Jan. 28, 1973 – July 2, 2016

I have been expecting the call since the day she left, but it still hit like a kidney shot to hear the news today. The woman who stole my heart twenty years ago this fall had passed away early this morning after being taken off life support last weekend.

Angela was unspeakably cruel to me in the final years of our marriage and I had long ago written her off as “dead” to me, but it still hurt like hell to learn her final fate.

She suffered a horrific childhood filled with unspeakable abuse and had been discarded by her mom early in her teenage years. In spite of all that, she had worked tremendously hard to overcome her past but she was always shadowed by unrelentingly vicious demons; demons who could always convince her she was unworthy of anything good in life and inevitably cause her sabotage it all. Careers, friendships and her marriage were all torn down and discarded, but a piece of her was always lost in the wreckage too.

Her last years were tragic, the beauty and potential lost in pipes, dirty needles and finally the liver disease she succumbed to.

The girl I married was a bright shining star and that is who I choose to remember today...









Dead Flowers – The Rolling Stones

Well when you're sitting there in your silk upholstered chair
Talkin' to some rich folk that you know
Well I hope you won't see me in my ragged company
Well, you know I could never be alone

Take me down little Susie, take me down
I know you think you're the queen of the underground
And you can send me dead flowers every morning
Send me dead flowers by the mail
Send me dead flowers to my wedding
And I won't forget to put roses on your grave

Well when you're sitting back in your rose pink Cadillac
Making bets on Kentucky Derby Day
Ah, I'll be in my basement room with a needle and a spoon
And another girl to take my pain away

Take me down little Susie, take me down
I know you think you're the queen of the underground
And you can send me dead flowers every morning
Send me dead flowers by the mail
Send me dead flowers to my wedding
And I won't forget to put roses on your grave

Take me down little Susie, take me down
I know you think you're the queen of the underground
And you can send me dead flowers every morning
Send me dead flowers by the U.S. Mail
Say it with dead flowers in my wedding
And I won't forget to put roses on your grave

No, I won't forget to put roses on your grave


Saturday, January 23, 2016

What does yoga mean to me? Chapter 23 - Betray

The move to Kelowna was strictly ego driven and I spent no time considering the pros and cons intelligently. I had been dealt so many body blows the last five years that I just needed something positive to cling to, a chance to look forward to a new adventure that could potentially turn my luck around.

Since the day I left Cranbrook in 1993 I had developed a subtle habit of packing up and moving every three to five years and this would fit the pattern nicely, a chance to wipe the slate clean and start fresh in a place where almost no one would know me. I spent the summer crowing to anyone who would listen that I was moving back to paradise and I enjoyed the brief notoriety it afforded me.

None of this masked that it was a terrible decision and deep inside I knew it. The problems I was trying to escape were certainly going to follow me and the move was going to permanently sever my last ties to any kind of accountability or moral support.

Even with close friends and family to lean on I was now consistently drinking a six-pack of Guinness chased with Scotch and a full litre of vodka every single day and had completely blown through my savings and investments in an attempt to hide the damage it was doing to my finances. I drove drunk or hung over literally every day and I was in daily physical agony from the combination of the car accident and the unhealthy diet. I had no clue how I would cope alone and yet here I was, on the brink of almost certain self destruction with no way to back down and save face. My ego was too exposed to allow me to make the brave decision and stop the process.

More unfortunate, if I had been brave I could have saved my brother Kevin a lot of pain too. My decision had the unintended consequence of throwing his life into turmoil and I was too wrapped up in my plans to see how much I had hurt him. I was leaving him in the lurch with no place to live and very little time to make suitable arrangements. Since the day Angela had left he had been the one to keep an eye on me when I was passed out late at night, he would always make sure the rent cheque was covered when I was spending my share in the pub and he was the last remaining person who had the courage to call me on my shit when it got to be too much. Now I was discarding him in my haste to try and outrun my pain.

Originally I was expected to move in March, and it was now August with no arrangements committed to yet. It should have been obvious they were stalling to buy more time to be able to afford my new contract and the delay should have been the trigger that allowed me to back out but I was fully committed now.
I pushed the owners hard to pick a date to start and we finally agreed I would be in Kelowna to fill my new position at the beginning of October. I cleaned out my house, put everything in storage and said my goodbyes. I gave up my hockey and football season tickets and prepared for what I thought would be a permanent move back to BC.

I should have seen this all coming, in hindsight I feel like I walked into the buzz saw deliberately in an effort to punish myself. At any rate, I had made the mistake of building a relationship with the senior brother but had no connection with the other two. I had seen all along how they battled and cheated each other and their many colleagues in the industry. None of what happened should ever have surprised me. And yet…

I showed up for my first day in Kelowna and was immediately called into middle brother’s office.

“You know I run the BC region correct?”
“Of course!” I replied.

He picked up my contract from a pile of papers on his desk and started to tear it into tiny pieces.
“You don’t work for Edmonton anymore, you work for me and I won’t be honouring any off this bullshit. You can stay and sell for me or you can go home. Either way, I don’t give a shit….”


“Betray” Minor Threat

Maybe it was no one's fault
I know it wasn't mine
But now that you've moved along
I guess I'm next in line

I thought we had the same ideas
But you, you proved me wrong
I've been played the fool before
But never for quite so long

Betray, betray, betray, betray
Betray, betray, betray, betray

So what now?
Do we shake hands and go on our separate ways;
Or do I open my mind and follow you into the haze?

No, I'll see you tomorrow
Same channel, same time, same place
I'm not going anywhere 'cause I quit your fucking race

Betray, betray, betray, betray
Betray, betray, betray, betray

Goddamit, we were supposed to stay young
And now it's over, it's finished
It's done, no expectations
Were on the run but now it's over
It's finished, it's done

Over and done, the end


Friday, January 22, 2016

What does yoga mean to me? Chapter 22 - Florida


April 2008 was a blur of physio, acupuncture and chiropractic appointments. My health benefits came nowhere near to covering my expenses so I went straight to work the week after the accident; between the physical agony and the daily hangovers my work activity level plummeted. I was still successfully selling but I was doing the absolute bare minimum to keep my income acceptable and when the senior brother called me into his office one afternoon I was expecting the worst.

I couldn’t have been more wrong though. He had noticed the changes in me since the end of my marriage and the accident and had a proposition for me. He suggested that a fresh start and a change of scenery was the best solution for my run of bad luck and that a newly created position in the Okanagan was mine if I wanted it. Even better, he offered to take me under his wing on a mentorship with an eye to becoming a partner in the company.

I was overjoyed!! I had spent most of my life in BC and even though I had family and good friends in Edmonton, I was tired of the rut I had dug for myself and I accepted both of the offers immediately.

The coaching began right away, and in a series of meetings we negotiated the new position, compensation and benefits. I was to move out to Penticton to open a new office and develop the south Okanagan territory. I would be a Regional Manager answering to the head office in Edmonton, and I would be required to hire the staff and run the new office. Eventually I would become a full partner in the company with the potential to take over complete ownership once the brothers retired.

Almost from the start there were red flags that should have caused me to back away. First, a colleague let slip that she had been made the same offers months before and had turned them down. Second, there was nothing but confusion regarding when the move would actually take place. I pushed to go right away, but there were a series of lame excuses and avoidance as spring turned into summer until finally he relented and set the first week of October as the date I would head out to Kelowna to start my new adventure. My brother found a new place to live; I negotiated to break the lease in my rental home, packed my belongings into storage and made all the final preparations to head west.

I hadn’t reached rock bottom yet but I was now moving into position to see it if I looked hard enough…


"Florida" Modest Mouse

Although we often wondered, it was no thing of wonder
The shit that flew from our minds
Well, grass stains and fresh fruit remind our shoes of horse glue
On this ridiculous climb

With great tunnel vision, we built ourselves a mission
To ride out motives inside
Oh, with vague description of what we have been missing
So why would anyone try

It was always worth it
That's the part I seem to hide
And the busy ant empire
Put all your clothes inside

I wasn't always cargo, I was kind of my own
I guess I'll pack up my mind
I it took so much effort not to make an effort
Oh, what a flawless design

It was always worth it
That's the part I seem to hide
And the busy ant empire
Put all your clothes inside, even as I left Florida

It was always worth it
That's the part I seem to hide
And the busy ant empire
Has always were to hide

It was always worth it
That's the part I seem to hide, even as I left Florida
Far enough, far enough, wasn't far enough

Couldn't quite seem to escape myself
Far enough, far enough, far from Florida
We were all drowsing in cruise control
Far enough, far enough, wasn't far enough

I stood on my heart supports thinkin'
Oh, my God
I'll probably have to carry this whole load
I couldn't remember if I tried

I couldn't remember if I took my brain out
Threw it so directly at the goal
I couldn't remember if I, I could have my mind erased
And still not know exactly what I don't already know, even as I left Florida






Thursday, January 21, 2016

What does yoga mean to me? Chapter 21 - It's Not the Fall That Hurts

Once the house had been packed and moved at the end of July 2002, I had serious decisions to make. Angela had already been in Edmonton for months and now my house and home were there too.

My railroad job was BC based and I had nine years of seniority built up as an engineer.
My options were to stay on the seniority list and try to find postings that provided bunkhouse accommodations, try to find a railroad job in Alberta, or quit railroading altogether and start a new career.

My heart told me it was time for the third option as I had been unhappy with the working conditions and the labour relations for years, but I still went in to the CP Rail depot to drop off my resume when I was home for a few days in August.

The rest of the summer saw me travel back and forth between Edmonton and Northern BC as I would get some shifts in and then come home for a few days. The driving was already unbearable and it wasn’t even winter yet so I knew this was unsustainable.

At the end of August while I was home, my neighbour came over to introduce himself. It was a friendly enough visit but he also had a motive, he owned a security alarm company and he was here to try and sell me a system. We had a nice conversation, I agreed to think about the quote he presented but then he surprised me with a seemingly offhand comment.

“When you get sick of all the driving, come and see me about a job…”

I chuckled, thanked him and showed him out, but I couldn’t possibly take the offer seriously! I knew absolutely nothing about the security industry and the pay cut would be drastic. When Angela got home we both had a good laugh and I forgot about it immediately.

Not a week later I was on my way to Prince George to start a week as a yard engineer, and as I drove through Jasper it began to snow…in August.

The rest of the drive was miserable, and once I got to PG things got worse. I had been bumped from my expected job and now I was told to be in Quesnel the next day. I jumped in the car to carry on, but before I arrived there I was told I had been bumped again and now was on the board in Williams Lake. Furious, I asked them to book me off duty with an illness and turned around to head back to Edmonton. The entire trip had been dangerous, tiring and ultimately pointless. I was heading home having made no money and it would be at least a week before I would return to work again.

As I drove home I started to reconsider my neighbours offer and tried to imagine a way I could make a new job work financially. By the time I got home to Edmonton I had made up my mind that I would take a leave of absence from the railroad and give something new a try. If the pay was low enough I could actually top it up with Employment Insurance payments and our finances would be manageable. I gave him a call when I got home on Saturday and was startled to learn I would start my new job on Monday.

There were several things about working for a family owned company that were new and very different than I was accustomed to. On the positive side, I no longer had to work in a contentious labor union v management environment. Everyone was treated like family and there were real efforts to have everyone feel like they were a part of something. If you had an idea that you thought would work there was an open door to discuss it and the company was nimble and agile at the start.

On the negative side, it was run like a family business, in that the family had short fuses and had no problem airing out the dirty laundry in front of everyone. There were three brothers in charge and a nephew on the staff as well and they all had open running conflicts with one another. It was not uncommon to see an actual fist fight break out in the middle of the office.

Second, the three brothers all wanted to live like millionaires and pay themselves accordingly, often at the expense of minor things like paying suppliers or employees. There were a couple times that payroll was late, and we often had to delay installations until cash could be raised to get product released.

Personally, I found it to be the perfect environment to start a new career. In many ways it was like the Wild West but there was a real encouragement to learn and grow, and the company was big enough that product reps took us seriously and spent time with me to help with the learning curve.

At the start, I was a simple labourer. I would ride in the van with an experienced tech and shadow them on the job site. I would assist where I could and do the tasks that made their life simple, and they were always great about answering my questions and allowing me to try new techniques. I found myself enjoying it so much that in December when I got a call from CP Rail saying they were interested in hiring me, I wasted no time declining the offer, and I also sent in my final resignation papers with BC Rail. The conversion was complete.

In the spring of 2003, I was called into the senior brother’s office for a meeting, where the unexpected offer was made to move me into sales. I had always imagined myself in sales in an alternate life and I was thrilled to accept on the spot.  I decided I would sink or swim and chose to be paid in full commission; my reasoning was I would very quickly find out if I was cut out for the sales life. I had a massively steep learning curve but I found I had a natural ability as well, and by the end of the summer I was back to making as much as I had on the railroad!

There was an unexpected bonus in choosing to be paid full commission. I had complete freedom to make my own hours and come and go as I pleased, as long as I made my targets. Month over month I was beating even my own lofty goals and I soon grew to love the lifestyle and free time the new career afforded me. By 2007, even with Angela gone along with her share of the household income, I was earning enough on my own to compensate.

Despite everything else in my life going to hell, career wise my life was as good as it had ever been. I was content, I had freedom and I had a great income.

Of course the universe was going to pull that rug out from under me as well.


It's Not the Fall That Hurts - Caesars

All my life I've been fall- fall- falling apart,
Been tumbling down quick first right from the start
I never learned just get up and go on
Until I'm just knocked right off of my feet

But it's not the fall that hurts
It's when you hit the ground
Cause it's not the fall that hurts
It's when you hit the ground

Stumblin' with every step I take
And it seems I can't get a grip
I'm soon gonna slip
And then I look down
I see that the ground
Is closing in fast again
And then boom

But it's not the fall that hurts
It's when you hit the ground
Cause it's not the fall that hurts
It's when you hit the ground




Total Pageviews