A brief synopsis of events over the past few years since my last blog entry is required in order to bring y'all up to date. In my previous ramblings I had mentioned that I was going to “ride the gravy train” (aka living with a wife who made a crapload of money) for as long as I could while enjoying the benefits of my dream job at a motorcycle shop. Well, the gravy train made an abrupt and unscheduled stop last March when my wife suddenly announced I was being kicked to the curb after 13yrs together. This was, of course, quite unexpected and came at a most inopportune time, since we had already sold our house in Durham and were about to make an offer on a new one in Orangeville where we would both be closer to work. Then two weeks later my Father suddenly passed away and while scrambling to find a new place to live in Orangeville I was also making frequent trips to and from Kingston to help Mom with the settling of the estate, funeral, finding her new accommodations and so on. Oh, and all of this was happening in the time frame that we were moving the motorcycle shop from the location in Hillsburgh to the new, larger digs in the town of Acton. The first half of 2014 was intense, complicated and very emotional to say the least.
But, onwards and upwards. I secured the rental of half a house with a huge yard and ample parking in Orangeville and got all my stuff moved there in time. The shop move went off fairly well, largely due to the volunteer efforts of some of our best customers, and we were back in business in a matter of days. Family came from all over the globe to help sort out Dad's estate and Mom's new life and by September things had pretty much settled down and both Mom and I were adapting to our new lives. However, Mom is about to turn 80 and it was apparent that I would need to move closer to Kingston within a few years. I had initially set summer 2016 as the time to move, but certain events and complications arose early this year that prompted me to ramp up the move to this past June.
So, my weekends from Feb to May were spent in the Kingston area looking for new accommodations and employment. A house was found near Seeley's Bay that suited me perfectly and I bought it, then got busy with all the administrative matters of the move. The employment search, though, was not as easy. First of all, I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do for a living, which made it difficult to figure out what jobs to search for. What I did know was that I did not want to work for any of the local bike shops (nor would they likely hire me, as I do not have my Motorcycle Mechanic ticket) and I did not want to go back to Millwrighting. There isn't much left in the way of industry anyway in the Brockville to Trenton corridor these days and my body has had enough of working in extreme conditions and environments. My AZ licence was still current, but I was reluctant to get back into that lifestyle for several reasons, not the least of them being that trucking was the trigger for my Type 2 Diabetes as well as a hindrance to having any sort of a regular social life. I briefly considered the world of a courier driver, but the physical demands were not agreeable to my already damaged body and I the shift hours were no different than that of a daycab driver. Which I had also investigated, but most of the available spots in this region are with the food service industry and my tired old body is not built for hand bombing endless loads of frozen pizzas and other foodstuffs.
Then I found out that Kriska had a time share plan. 7 days on/7 days off sounded like a good idea to me; two drivers taking one week turns behind the wheel allowed for a truck to be constantly in motion, which was good for the company and allowed plentiful and scheduled hometime plus a decent wage for the drivers (60% of regular highway solo driver pay). I contacted Kriska and was happy to hear that not only did they remember me, but because I had left on good terms and they would be happy to have me back. Because my FAST card had expired, though, I had to get it reinstated before they could formally offer me employment once again. And that's where the plan fell apart; a few weeks after sending in the FAST Card app I received a letter informing me that it was denied because of a violation of border regulations, something to do with a “knife seizure” incident at Port Huron.
Let me back up a few years here. I had a replica German Army bayonet/survival knife that I had started carrying with me shortly after I started working for Hyndman. It was usually kept in my duffel bag or on one of the shelves in the sleeper cab. One day, though, it was used for an emergency vehicle wiring repair and placed in the pocket of the driver's side door. For several weeks after, I made many successful border crossings at all the usual ports of entry without any problems. This included several random X-Ray checks without any repercussions. I had actually forgotten about the knife until one day when crossing at Port Huron I was waved into the lineup for the mobile X-Ray. I strolled over to the driver's sheltered lounge (you know, that rusted out, airless, cramped booth in the middle of the lot) to wait while the Border Agents did their thing. Well, out comes one of them with my knife gingerly held between thumb and forefinger and the show was on. Off to Secondary Inspection I went, where I was grilled by two agents and a State Trooper while the trailer was torn apart by a manic depressive forklift driver whose rig had no brakes and only an on/off switch for the gas pedal. Or at least that's what it sounded like while standing next to it getting raked over the coals. Long story short, they eventually determined I had no hostile intent with the knife and had made an honest mistake that would never be repeated again. The knife was “seized”, no charges were laid, no documents were signed and I was sent on my way with a stern verbal warning. And for the next five months I made countless more border crossings with no problems whatsoever. When I took the job at the motorcycle shop and handed in the keys to my Peterbilt, I left the yard under the impression that the cross border trucking industry would welcome me back any time. So imagine my surprise and disgust when I find out three years later that I was no longer eligible for a FAST Card because of this incident. Funny how it wasn't big enough of an issue to cancel my FAST Card outright at the time said incident occurred, eh?
I briefly tossed about the idea of filing a grievance, but it the end I just said to hell with it. By now it was time for the move and the month of June was taken up with getting settled in. Thanks to a very good friend who also happened to work for Kingston City Transit, I was made aware of a job posting for part time city bus drivers. This sounded like something I could do, so my application went in and I was eventually contacted and an interview was set up. In the mean time, one of my new neighbours had found out I was seeking employment and persuaded me to come for an interview at the school bus transport company she worked for. I set up an interview the day after the one with City Transit was scheduled.
I attended the City Transit interview and the first thing that was revealed to me was that they were hiring for the 2016 fiscal year.
What. The. *#%@!!!
No way would my savings last that long, I needed employment a lot sooner than that. So I went to the school bus driver interview and within minutes was offered an opportunity. I accepted, and, well, now y'all are up to date.