Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday Mourning...

Genuine thanks to Freddie Beach of Fredericton and Adrian in Sydney for linking me...and thanks to NYC Sol for the promise thereof...;-)

Friday nights in Carleton Place are a hit and miss affair for cabbies. In a town with fewer people than most large cities have taxis, a busy Friday can mean as many as eight cabs competing for a scant number of fares. Given the laws of supply and demand, the competition is predictably fierce and unfailingly farcical. It's not uncommon for several cabs to stake out the Tim Hortons parking lot, a prime location across from Pizza Pizza, kitty corner to Sud's Bar, and a half block down from The Thirsty Moose, incidentally one of the most popular Bar/Restaurants in town. If you are blessed with the gift of anticipation, you can respond to prospective fares before they've brandished the "come hither" wave, and thus get the jump on your competition.

As one of the lucky few, on this crazy, pretty, blue orb, to call Carleton Place home, I sometimes need reminding of the greater world beyond the "Welcome to Carleton Place" sign. Cabbies here have no need for meters to determine fares. Everything within the city limits is a flat rate: $7 will get you from one end of town to the other. Breach the town limits, and you immediately incur an extra dollar charge. For the more adventurous, setting out for Almonte, the next town up-the-line, requires reaching deeper to cover the $18 fare. For the truly cosmopolitan, or those ready for the rite-of-passage journey to downtown Ottawa, where strip clubs welcome fresh-faced youths not yet jaded by big-city bustle, expect to part with $85 for the trip. For the well-heeled, or those simply desperate to get as far away as possible, a trip to the Ottawa International Airport, about 40 minutes distant, will set you back $130.

I sit idle now, alternately reading and watching the light fade, as people stroll the downtown street. The bustle of earlier has settled to a steady crawl. Downtown was crammed this morning. Two hundred firefighters gathered to pay tribute to a local man. He was a twenty year veteran of the Ottawa Fire Dept, and died tragically in a car fire last Saturday morn. He was the close friend of a close friend, and as such I had occasion to meet him a few times. Stories of his character and ready wit are making the rounds now, as bewildered friends remember why they loved him.

An anecdote I particularly liked: He and a friend were in a small store in a neighbouring town. A pretty young lady wearing tight, tight shorts, cameltoe snug, cheerfully rang up their purchases. Their business completed, they returned to the pickup truck, still much affected by the spectacle of the young lady inside.

"Did she catch you staring" asked the friend, quite sure that he had been caught himself.

"I don't know..." responded the fireman, his sudden grin full of mischief. "I never looked up..."

He leaves two youngsters, a wife, and a town in mourning.

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