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In general I like the services provided by Canada Post. With fewer folks using the old mail system, the post office has tried to keep up with things to remain relevant. Ironically this includes using the same technology that is cutting into their business. Sometimes this technology can cut both ways.
Not too long ago I ordered a book online. I had it delivered to my home, understanding that I may not be in when it arrived and I would have to trek to the post office to pick it up. Nonetheless I decided to take my chances; maybe I would be home.
Within a few days I was walking along approaching my building when I spotted the Canada Post truck parked right in front. I dashed the last half block to make sure I got to the carrier before he could leave.
As I entered the lobby I saw that my book was indeed firmly in the grasp of the carrier. He had just placed the “Sorry we missed you, go get your package at the Post Office” card in my mailbox. Phew, said I, that was close. May I have my package please?
At this request I noticed that the carrier, someone I have known for several years and a very nice guy, started to look sheepish and uttered ‘Um … no.’
He explained that the package had already been scanned and therefore entered into the system. I thought this was silly, but figured all I had to do was open my mailbox, retrieve the missed delivery card, present it to the carrier who would then hand over my book.
I proceeded to do this only to have him look me straight in the eye and tell me he could not give me the package. It could now only be obtained at the post office. He was standing not five feet from me, with my package in his hand, but could not give it to me.
Thinking that he may be joking I asked him to un-scan the package. That cannot be done he told me. So let me get this straight, I said, you can’t give me my package, the one you have in your hand, even if I give you the card. He agreed that I had fully grasped the situation.
Still looking for a Just For Laughs camera, I relented and said I would take the card and go to the post office later. He cautioned me not to do that until after midday the next day, as it would take that long for the post office to process it.
Ah technology …
Although we had an easy winter, Mother Nature’s last few kicks at the can left many Montrealers worrying that spring would never arrive. But it did, as it has, to varying degrees, pretty much every year.
Even though the temperature is still on the chilly side, now that the streets and sidewalks are free of snow, ice, salt and slush I no longer have an excuse for not returning to my daily running routine. I used to run every weekday morning regardless of weather and road conditions. I believe this is what they call being young and foolish. Recently after many slips and several near arse over teakettle incidents I determined winter was more suited to power walking than running.
I like the brisk walk, but never get the same sense of accomplishment afterward. For me the raison d’etre of running is to work up a good sweat. Exuding all those toxins (read: yesterday’s beer) and feeling the pounds of winter fat melting off is my goal. Cardiovascular benefits are gravy.
This year I have decided to alter my routine a wee bit, no easy task for someone who lettered in OCD. I have opted to do at least some on my running on a nearby track. No more dodging sidewalk traffic or vehicular traffic for that matter. I am going to run circles. In an effort to ease the boredom of track running I have been listening to my iPhone as I run now that Apple has come out with very good earpods (of course they had to be pods not buds and I have read that in future iPhones the headphone connection will be the same as the Apple charger and not the universal one that allows for any headset to be used). Not something I would do on city streets or sidewalks where concentration is required, but on the track I figured I could safely lose myself in an AccuRadio sixties channel as I chugged along.
With said earpods firmly in place I set off to the sounds of the Dave Clark Five. Shedding winter’s lethargy I basked in the sun as I jogged my way to a fit state. Before I knew it I was working up a sweat with the Beach Boys. But then it all went south. The sound went from crisp and clear to garbled. It sounded as if I had my head underwater, yet I knew I did not. What was happening? Was I having a stroke?
No. I soon realized that perspiration, the goal of this exercise, was seeping into my ear and being trapped there by my earpods, resulting in an underwater sound. Yep, I was being waterboarded by my iPhone. No amount of removal and reinsertion of the earpods could keep up with the flow of moisture and a supply of Q-Tips was not readily available (although you are not supposed to put those things in your ear).
Just when I thought I had things worked out …
I have always had a soft spot for taxi drivers. Blame Harry Chapin. It is a tough way to make an average living. Long hours and, in Quebec, very expensive licenses – their price has soared to roughly $200,000 in Montreal, making its market worth roughly $900-million. Taxis are highly regulated by various agencies.
Unlike many of my friends south of the border, I like regulations. I like big government keeping an eye on things. That is why I am a huge fan of the democratic process; we get the government we deserve.
It seems patently unfair to me that men and women who make their living as taxi drivers, who pay the exorbitant fees, who toe the line regarding vehicle standards, who already face fierce competition should have to deal with amateurs working their turf.
If I bought a whole whack of cheap ground beef and a barbecue and set up business in front of a McDonald’s selling my wares at a discount price I would soon be hauled off by police. Licensed bar owners pay a heavy tax when they buy liquor to sell on their premises. They pay SOCAN fees that allow them to play recorded music without screwing artists. They pony up thousands of dollars for pay-per-view sports events, much more than private citizens. They are highly regulated.
So next time there is a big UFC bout I think I will set up a table outside a sports bar, get a bucket of ice and some plastic cups. I will drop by the liquor store and pick up a few bottles of hooch at the much lower private citizen price, then stop at the grocery store for some cases of beer. I could play some tunes on a portable stereo and sell my goods without the hassle and expense of regulation. Of course I would soon be hustled off.
After the price gouging debacle of last New Year’s Eve I am surprised there are still some who will use Uber at all.
We changed cars a week or so ago. After two Hyundai vehicles we changed manufacturer but not country by getting another Korean car, a Kia Soul. So far we are very pleased. I am especially pleased with the new key fob.
The two Hyundai cars were fine, we only changed to Kia because we liked the Soul and Hyundai does not yet have a similar model. But if there was a problem with the Hyundais it was minor but annoying.
I recall a time when a car had two keys. A square one that got you in and started the car, and a round one that opened the trunk. These keys were only slightly larger than regular house and office keys which allowed them to be put on a ring and carried in a pocket. To protect against loss, you could have as many copies made as you wanted simply by going to your local hardware store and having them cut for a few bucks each.
To open your car door you had to actually insert the key and turn it; no button pressing from afar. A simple procedure unless of course the locks froze. This was a common occurrence the day after a car wash. A cruel winter reality was the need to often wash off accumulated road salt that ate away at cars like termites in a log cabin, only to find the locks frozen the next morning. Of course there were several lock de-icer products, small cans along the lines of butane lighter fillers, the nozzle of which you stuck into the keyhole and squirted the alcohol-based liquid into the lock workings. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it did not. However more often than not it was not put to the test because it was left in the glove compartment, locked inside the car!
If the liquid failed to allow the key to function, there were several home remedies that could be used, including holding your key under a match or lighter to heat it. Inserting a hot key was supposed to melt the ice. It goes without saying that to try this method too soon after injecting the alcohol de-icer could have disastrous results. Hair dryers attached to several extension cords were also popular tools to gain access to a lock-frozen vehicle.
But those days are long gone. No longer do we have a pair of keys, now we have one key on a fob. The fob has several buttons that open and lock the doors, even if frozen, open the trunk and a useful red button that makes your car honk and flash madly so you can find it in a crowded parking lot.
All fine and dandy except for a couple of things. The fob is relatively large, it will not fit on a key ring. Worse, on literally countless occasions I, with fob in pocket, sat down to dinner and inadvertently set off the horn and lights on the car parked outside our building three floors down. While that was annoying, it could be dealt with from the window by pointing the fob and pressing the lock button. More irksome was unknowingly opening the trunk. Family members and neighbors would often tell me they had closed my car trunk yet again as they walked by and noticed it gaping open. Sometimes I hit the jackpot and not only tripped the car finder cacophony, but upon looking out the window to silence it I noticed the trunk wide open. This required me to traipse down three stories and shut the trunk before it filled with snow or thieving hands.
The Kia fob has not yet caused me any trouble. Perhaps it is just a wee bit less sensitive. But I do foresee a problem. On the new fob the key retracts and is released by a button. Something akin to a switch blade. As I tend to carry the fob in my front pants pocket I suspect at some point in the future I will suffer a shot to the choir buttons as the key flips out into position.