Friday, July 28, 2006

Two Days on the Prairie

I've been back for a couple of days, but between work and catching up on some much needed rest, I haven't really had the opportunity to post anything until now. My trip out west for the funeral was quick and physically draining. It went something like this.


5:00 a.m. EDT

My alarm goes off. I swing my feet to the floor and rub my eyes. These next two days are going to suck.

7:00 a.m. EDT

After my 40 minute commute, I arrive at work. I doddle around for about 2 hours, checking email, chatting with co-workers, and doing a few housekeeping items. Around 9:00 a.m. I leave the office en route to London, Ontario via car.

11:15 a.m. EDT

I arrive in London. I decide it's a good idea to fill up with gas so I don't have to do it when I get back. After paying for the fuel, I begin looking for a copy of the Globe & Mail to read while I wait, but apparently, they don't read The Globe in London. Seeing as it will probably be a while before I get a chance to eat again, I head for an early lunch at Wendy's. Around noon, I head off towards the RCMP Air Services hangar at the airport.

1:00 p.m. EDT

After waiting around for about an hour, meeting the 4 other passengers and pilot, and loading up the aircraft, we head out on our journey for Regina, Saskatchewan.

5:00 p.m. MT

Six hours, one stop for fuel in Thunder Bay, and a relatively uneventful (but cramped) flight later, we arrive at Regina Airport. I catch a ride to the Delta Hotel downtown and get checked in. My stomach has started to feed on itself as I haven't eaten in about 8 or 9 hours (which usually only happens when I'm sleeping). I try calling my buddy Don, but unfortunately, it doesn't look like he's going to make it to Regina from Saskatoon that evening as his boss has him working. We decide to try and meet for breakfast the following morning. I call another friend, Dean, who already is in the midst of cooking dinner, but will meet me for a few drinks later.

6:30 p.m. MT

I decide to head down to the Cornwall Centre with the intention of just grabbing something quick at the food court. I forget that in Saskatchewan, they roll up the sidewalks at 6 p.m. Everything is closed. I head down Scarth Street and grab a seat on the patio at Alfredo's. The sun is hot and the service is slow. The ambience sucks. I order a lasagne and side caesar salad. The salad comes first, and I start picking away at it. Are those anchovies? Bleah....but I keep picking away at it. Is that a dead, smushed fly on that piece of romaine? Okay....I'm done. When the waitress comes back, I point out the fly.

Do you want another one?
Me: remove it from my bill.
Waitress: Okay.

No apology, of course. Sigh. The lasagne, at least, is edible. I have to eat quickly, since Dean is picking me up shortly.

7:30 p.m. MT

Dean picks me up at the hotel, and we head off to Brewster's for a couple drinks. The place is packed, since it's also wing night, so we each order a pound of those as well. As usual, the place is teeming with cops and cadets, given the proximity to both the F Division headquarters and the training academy. I spot the Sergeant Major, who I know, and share a few words. He tells me I'll be in the #1 Troop for the processional the next day, which is comprised of troopmates and co-workers. I thank him, then return to my conversation with Dean and we continue getting caught up on what's going on in each other's lives. It ends up being a lot of shop talk....but that's what happens when cops get together.

10:00 p.m. MT

We decide to take advantage of the theatre located outside the pub and go see the late screening of Clerks II. I find the first 10 minutes or so a bit annoying, but it picks up, and by the end of it I've had to wipe away tears of laughter on more than one occassion. Crude, but enjoyable. But as with the first Clerks....Dante still gets on my nerves.

12:30 a.m. MT

Dean drops me off back at the hotel. I watch a bit of the Daily Show, then pass out.


7:00 a.m. MT

I wake up earlier than anticipated and before my alarm. I decide there's not much point in going back to sleep. After a quick shower and shave, I take a bit of time to add a few coats of polish to my boots. Don gives me a call just before 9, saying he's almost in town. I tell him I'll meet him down at the restaurant in the mall.

9:15 a.m. MT

I meet Don and one of his co-workers, Brent, for breakfast. It's good to see Don again. We start chatting like it's old times. I remember why I miss working with him. Once finished, we head up to my room so they don't have to change for the funeral in their car.

11:30 a.m. MT

All dressed up and ready to go, we head downstairs to the lobby where I'm meeting my ride. I see a couple guys from Toronto's 52 Division, and say hello. Don and Brent head out, and my ride arrives shortly after. We head over to the exhibition grounds where people have been asked to park and be bused over to Depot for the service. I see a number of old friend's and co-workers there, catch up briefly, and then hop a bus over to Depot.

12:30 p.m. MT

I arrive at Depot to a sea of red and blue. I can't walk five feet without bumping into a former co-worker or acquaintance. It is good to see everyone again, but it's hard to adequately catch-up in two minutes. I head over to the staging area for the processional, and find my old co-workers from Pelican Narrows. We catch up. I learn that there was a prayer service the previous evening, which some of them attended and then had a few drinks after. They tried to call me, but I wasn't in the hotel room. I regret not having known. We stand around for well over an hour as the column is organized and we await the body and family to arrive.

2:00 p.m. MT

The procession begins. We fall in behind the hearse and horses, marching through the parade square and in front of the Chapel. Our troop was told we'd be seated in the Chapel, but with all the Officers, apparently there was no room for us...who knew Marc. So we were marched over to the drill hall, where we watched the service on closed circuit t.v. It was hard to watch, at times. For a time, seated in front of me, was the 3rd Mountie who came on the scene, exchanged gunfire with the dirtbag, and then came upon her friends and co-workers, shot in the head with a rifle. You could see the emotional toll she had been forced to pay etched on her face. There were touching words from the Commissioner, Marc's aunt, and his brothers. Natasha spoke as well. I am inspired by the courage she has shown in dealing with this terrible ordeal....the loss of her husband and father of their 9 month old son.

Following the service, the 1000+ officers in attendance formed a line of honour leading from the Chapel out through the parade square and to Dewdney Avenue. As the hearse passed, each officer would snap a salute. We were then broken off, and I had a chance to meet with people for another 1/2 hour or so, before having to head back to the van, and subsequently the airport for our flight back.

18:15 p.m. MT

We grabbed a couple sandwiches for the flight, then made our way to the hangar where we undertook the task of changing out of our uniforms. Then it was back on the plane, for the lovely ride home.

1:30 a.m. EDT

Six hours, one stop for fuel in Thunder Bay, and a flight outrunning a lightning storm later, we land in London. I have another 2-2 1/2 hour drive ahead of me to look forward to. I stop at a Tim Horton's for a coffee and sandwich, and make the trek home.

4:00 a.m. EDT

Bed. Sleep. And dreams of better times.


Blogger Dave said... I'm commenting on my own post. Why? Because I just realized how many times I headed out, headed over, or some other "heading" action in my entry.

Now excuse me while I hea.....go forth to find a thesauraus.

12:01 AM  
Blogger Tam's thoughts said...

wish I could of been there to support you.

8:26 PM  

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