Anthony Greene

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Montreal – Week One. (Life is hard in the big city).

with 2 comments

I’m midway through my first week here in Montreal.  When I moved back home to Moncton three years ago, I was overwhelmed with a sense of everything in my day to day life had become so much easier.  Over the past years I’ve kept the fading memory that somehow, life in a big city was more difficult, but I had forgotten all the details.  This week has brought all of that home, and much, much more.
I moved into the apartment Sunday at midnight, after driving up from Moncton with the cats.  The drive went 100% better than the last time I made it, when I drove them down from Hamilton three years ago.  I’m happy I went with the decision to buy two large-size cat carriers, instead of putting both of them in the extra-large carrier.  It was much easier to take each one out, clean them up if needed, and put them back in, during my semi-hourly pit stops.  The drive went by much better with the peace of mind that the cats may not have been happy, but at least they were comfortable.
I had all day Monday to unpack and sleep, before work with CGI began on Tuesday.  I’ll be up front and honest about the apartment.  I’m terribly disappointed by it.  From the ad, and Chloe’s description I was hoping to move into a very upscale place.  It’s not.  It’s crappy.  And, it’s my life for the next year, at least.  To be fair, it’s along the same standard as most of my not-so-nice apartments in Toronto, so I know I will adjust.  My disaspointment probably comes mostly from being spoiled by my house back home, which is far, far nicer than any apartment I have ever lived in.
The hardest thing has been living with no internet.  I pop into an internet cafe once a day to check my email.  Having no internet access from home lends more to the feeling of my place being barren and empty than my having no furniture.  I would take internet access and no furniture over furniture and no internet.  Of course, right now, I have neither.  Talk about getting back to basics.  Me, two cats, and an air mattress.  (Something about that combination sounds like a bad idea).
Work has not been a whole lot of help either.  While my orientation day was useful and informative, I have since spent the past two days without assignment, and without a laptop.  There’s a hiccup in the supply chain, and no one seems to know where my laptop is supposed to be.  What a tragedy it is, that I am working for the largest software consulting company in Montreal, and I have to step out to a corner internet cafe just to check my email.
The part that strikes me as funny, though, is that not a soul here at CGI seems to notice or mind that I presently have no work to do, or any means to do that work if it should come my way.  And since I’m not able to check my email, I suppose even if I were assigned something to do, I would have no way of knowing  These past two days I’ve been feeling less like a highly experience developer, and more like a carboard manikin hired to fill out a desk.  I know this will all pass, at least, since starting Monday I should be working full time at the client’s site.
I know Montreal well enough to get around by foot.  Getting around by car is a whole other matter.   Yesterday, I excused myself from work early (no one noticed) to start cheking into places where I can park my car.  (More on that in another post, the pure ignorance of the Montreal Parking authority is a rant in it’s own right).  Since right now I’m living without the finer luxuries or life (like dinner plates, or glasses) I decided to head up to Loblaws with the car to get a large load of groceries and household items, before I park the car for a month.
A Loblaws or Provigo would do, anything that carried President’s Choice products should be fine, since I have my mind set on getting the exact same dish set that I have in Moncton, only didn’t want to bother shipping up.  It’s only thirty dollars for the set, and not really worth the trouble packing and risk breaking them.
Sadly, that Loblaws didn’t have a housewares section that even a modest grocery store in RIVERVIEW, New Brunswick might have, so I needed to locate another Loblaws and try there.  The cashier was nowhere close to helpful giving me directions to another Loblaws.  I got the very distinct feeling that she was trying to get rid of me.   That feeling has been the predominant one I’ve gotten this first week here, that if I ask someone a question, they might answer me, but only in the hopes that I will then go away, and no longer be their problem.  This, I believe, is the mantra of most of the civil servants of this city, and they go home every night and meditate upon it.  I can only guess what the chant would be.
(As addendum to that last comment, I just received the first good customer support I’ve yet to receive this week from, of all places, Bell, while ordering my internet connection.  So now I know somewhere along the way I walked into Bizzaro World since coming here).
The Loblaws cashier’s directions led me on a wild goose-chase for a Holy-Grailesque, elusive Loblaws around St-Croix.  If I learned one thing yesterday, it’s NEVER drive around Montreal hoping that you will randomly bump into a Loblaws.  It’s a frustrating, fruitless, exercise.  And, as I learned from my Google search today, that store doesn’t even exist anyway.  I’m sure that vile, teen-age cashier had an awfully good laugh at my expense.
Which reminds me of a second point of infinite wisdom when trying to negotiate the streets of a big, unfamiliar city.  Get a cellphone!  Wow.  I remember how much I loved having one back in Toronto, but I forgot how utterly helpless I feel driving around a large city without one.  So getting a cellphone is next on my priorities list.  I don’t condone driving while talking on a cellphone.  In fact, my best roadrage fantasies usually feature a crowbar, and some jerk yabbing on his phone talking about yesterday’s football score.  But when you’re lost, and frustrated, and you need to call someone for help or directions, a payphone is never around.  Or… it’s just around the corner of that street you’re not allowed to turn left onto, and you’ll drive 25 more blocks before you are finally allowed to turn that way.
Well, I suppose that’s enough of a rant for now.  Today I’m already feeling much better than I have all week, knowing I have a place to safely store my car where it won’t get towed (even if it’s in the exact opposite side of the city as me), and knowing that while I might have to wait a week, eventually I will have an internet connection at home.  Life, slowly, gets put back together.
Now I’m off to go find some dinner plates.

Written by anthonygreene

September 7, 2006 at 5:27 pm

Posted in the wondrous tao

2 Responses

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  1. So much for not being a cog in a large corp.  It all goes downhill from here 😉


    September 16, 2006 at 1:38 pm

  2. I thought the objective in life is to trade up? 🙂 just kidding. Man that story really makes me never want to move cities again 🙂


    October 16, 2006 at 7:44 pm

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