Home – Remembering a Lost Friend

This blog is not going to follow my normal style, but it is something I feel I want to do.

Only a few hours ago a friend, a person who I admired, and was a true mentor passed away from cancer.  He is the 2nd person in less than 6 months, that I know was taken way to early in life.

How do I know Bill?  Well, the story goes like this.

When I was 15 or 16, my best friend, Kris, who still is one of my best friends, was working for his Uncle, Bill.  But Kris was moving onto a new job, and gave my information to Bill.  Kris being a great friend told Bill I was awesome and Bill agreed to have me come work for him.

I was to meet Bill at the Athens fairground that Saturday at 7 am.  I remember this day, just like it was yesterday.

I arrived a few minutes early to see a guy my dad’s age in a big yellow rain suite washing a transport.  I walk over and ask if he is Bill.  He says Yes and  gave me instructions to put on the other rain suite and start working.  My first day we worked 13 or 14 hours, and not easy hours.  Who thought washing trucks would be hard, but trust me, it was!

Very quickly I learned Bill was a damn hard working guy, and rewarded people who also worked hard.

The agreement on the phone was $6.50 per hour, which at the time was just above minimum wage.  However, at the end of my first day, Bill said to me.  He really liked my work and decided to give me a raise to $7.

From that day on, Bill worked me damn hard.  We averaged 10 hour days on weekends, and it wasn’t uncommon for us to work 14 hours a day.  But he always rewarded me.  Almost every day he bought us coffee and toast for my first break, and when we went for lunch, he always paid.

There was a few times I tried paying, and he would let me, but the next day he would fill my car up with gas.  So, did I really ever pay?

That was Bill, a hard working, extremely generous, and kind man.  Just being around him made me want to succeed in life.  He was actually the first person to inspire me to travel.

I remember he went to Acapulco, Mexico for vacation and when he got back he showed me pictures of his trip over a Crown Royal, and Coke.

That reminds me of my favorite quote from Bill, “I like Crown Royal!” he would randomly say to me when it was near his birthday or Christmas.  One Christmas I actually bought him a small bottle and left it in his truck to find.

Bill also got me my first job as a welder at Tackaberry’s, which lead to me going to school to be a software developer.  If it wasn’t for Bill, I would not be the person I am today, and I probably wouldn’t be where I am today either.

One thing I will never forget about Bill, is he loved to give people nicknames.  One of the funniest ones was when a friend of mine from school came to work with us.  His name is Ben!  Ben is a big dude, and always missed washing under the truck boxes.  Bill nicknamed him, Bend Over Ben.  There is a second reason he named Ben that.  One night Ben and I went drinking, the next day at work we were a little hungover and Ben bent over to puke.  Bill saw him and made a comment to me, “he can bend over!”

His nickname for me, was Knob!  Yep, that is where my company name came from!

So, this summer I had a chance to go see Bill.  I even dreamed about showing up with flowers and a bottle of Crown Royal and telling him how much what he did for me, meant to me, but I didn’t.  You know why I didn’t!  Because I was thinking about myself and was more concerned about leaving, and traveling.  I thought, I will do it when I get back.

I rarely, if ever, have regret, but this time I regret not going.

I learned a lot from Bill, and my memories of him will never fade.

Before I wrap this up, there is something I must say!  Don’t let life pass you by.  Do what makes you happy, and don’t forget the people around you.  AND never procrastinate when it comes to telling someone how much they mean to you.

Thanks Bill for everything!

What a summer in Ontario!

This summer has been full of adventure, laughter, smiles, and I even made a few new friends.  It was one hell of a time, but with every great summer, there is always a little sadness.  This summer had its fair share unfortunately.

Before I get into the funny shit, I might as well as tell you the sad parts.  This summer I had two grandparents pass away.  First was my grandfather who passed away just 7 days after I arrived back home.  Then exactly 3 months to the day, his wife, my grandmother passed away.  He was 90 and she was 88.  Both lived amazing lives and will be missed.

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As I was writing this I received a phone call from a good friend letting me know that another truly amazing person, Peter Munro passed.  As long as I knew him he, on and off fought cancer and 3 times he beat it.  All I can say is, if you ever met Peter you would immateriality like him.  He was just that type of guy.  The world lost a person it needed in it. He’ll be missed.

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This summer had it’s share of ups and downs, and the downs I am done with talking about.  So let’s get onto some of the good things.

Just before I arrived back in Canada, I found out that eating bananas helps with my IBS.  Bananas are a powerful tool in life, and I am still learning how to use them for good, and not evil. 🙂

Banana time

After I arrived back, I quickly started visiting my friends to say Hello again.  One of those nights included Dave, Todd, Kris, Will and I.  Where we made some odd decisions and we all tried lifting each other.  The only real part of that I remember is Kris on the ground with Todd laying on top of him.  New Love maybe?  I dunno.  Either way, these nights were memorable for sure.

When I wasn’t partying I was helping Kris cut wood, and do things around his place.  But sometimes this was boring for me, so I found that teasing the shit out of him kept me from being bored.  One way I loved teasing Kris was making fart sounds when he wasn’t paying attention.  Almost every time Kris would jump and say, “Jesus, you scared me!”  Yes, I loved scaring him.

Even better was when I convinced Kris to go to Calypso Water Park in Ottawa.  He had never been on a water slide in his life.  The first one I took him on scared the shit out of him.  You can watch the video of him screaming on YouTube 🙂

Sorry Kris, and Thank You for putting up with me for the summer.

Some of my best times this summer were hanging out with Lee and having several pints.  Once I was happily buzzed, I would annoy his wife Barb and her kids.  Something you all know I love doing. One word of advice I have, is don’t tease a friend teenage daughter, because she will find a way of getting you back.  Thanks Kerry for almost scaring the shit out of me while driving.

Did I work this summer.  Well I did, but most of it wasn’t paid work.  I just enjoyed helping people while I was here.  Some of the fun work was driveway sealing a good friend’s mom driveway, installing internet towers with another friend, and repairing my mom’s Seadoos.  That is always fun because I get to ride them, and if I have good luck, Jack will trip and fall into the water.  Which happened once.  OMG it was funny. 🙂  There is nothing better than seeing an old mad fall.

I know I haven’t mentioned all of the amazing events that happened this summer, but none of them will ever be forgotten.  I had one of the best summers back in Ontario and hope to be back next summer.

Yes, I am leaving again.  August 14th I fly to Amsterdam to see Peter and his family, and then onto Sweden to see Malin The Trooper, and then Latvia, where I plan on hanging out until September when I will head to Germany to see Julia, the German Princess Model.  That will be some good times.

After Germany I have no real idea where I will go exactly, but I plan on seeing Cairo, and India to visit my friend Balaji.  I will eventually head back to the Philippines and then maybe back to New Zealand.  But who knows.

Take care all, and more to come when I start traveling.

Why I left, What I learned, Why am I coming back?

I have been back in Canada just over 3 weeks and I finally can start to relax.  I didn’t think coming back would be this awkward or difficult, but it was.  Anyways, before I get into that, I want to answer the 3 questions everyone keeps asking.

1. Why did I leave.
2. What did I learn, did I accomplish what I set out to do?
3. Why did I come back so early?

Why did I leave!  I left for one major reason.  I was unhappy and becoming angry with life.  I knew there was more to living, and wanted to find it.

A few years back I was working as a team lead, and got promoted to take over for the director of development, but with the title Technical Operations Manager.  This new role did not cancel out my old responsibilities, they just added the new ones.  In other words, I was basically working two jobs.  My work day went from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, to 7 am to 6:30 pm and weekend work became more frequent.  Oh, and don’t forget I only got 10 days off a year.  So, after doing this for over 3 years, and never taking a week off, I took a week off and went to Dominican Republic for a well needed vacation and guess what.  The company tried calling me, but with no luck.  My stress level never lowered.

Not getting time off was only half the story at this job.  Everyone hated working there, and all I ever heard was negative things about the company and to add to it, the owner LOVED to yell and degrade people.  What an amazing position I was in.

Shortly after my vacation, I realized the last 15 years I have been over worked, and I hated life.  I knew I had to change something, and that change started by giving my 4 weeks notice to leave this company.  This did not go over well, and the company found out who my next employer was.  They actually called my new employer trying to negotiate with them my start date behind my back.  They wanted 6 months notice.

Even quieting, my stress seemed to never end.

Anyways, after 6 weeks of shit, I was finally at the new job.   I was very clear when taking this new position that I was through with bad attitudes and working 55 or more hours a week.

Guess what, within 2 weeks at the new company I realized they were the exact same, and in some cases even worse.  I tolerated this for 5 months and then we came to an agreement with them.

I was leaving again, but this time I was going to take my sweet time looking for a new job and no longer cared about making 6 figures a year.  Money was no longer a concern, only happiness was.

It took 5 weeks, and I found an amazing position in Kingston.  My boss and the people I worked with turned out to be truly amazing.  Sweet and honest in all areas.  A big bonus was 7.5 hours a day, 5 days a week and 15 days off a year.  This could be my new life!

The only downside was I took a 70% pay cut.  The salary I was now making is way more than good enough, but my current expenses were based on what I had been making the last 5 years.

I didn’t want to leave this job, as it was awesome, but I knew I had to change my assets to match my new income.  So I decided to list and sell my house, including all of my other major assets.

My house and assets sold within week.  This was great, but I kept thinking I needed more and decided to browse the internet to see where at my young age, I could possibly work. This was a dream, but why not look.

Well, I couldn’t believe it, I have always wanted to go to New Zealand, and for Canadians I could get a 2 year work-travel Visa for up to 2 years.  I wasn’t planning on leaving, but right at that exact moment, something happened.  I just payed for the visa and wrote my resignation letter.

Maybe this was the change I needed, to get away from all of the negativity, and excessive work hours, and start completely over.  Maybe I would end up living in New Zealand, or maybe I will just visit there and then continue traveling.  This was the last major step in pushing me to leave.

So the reason I left was partially a fluke, part me being over stressed, but more so, I wanted to find myself, too learn how to be a better person and find out how others stay happy.  I wanted to meet every walk of life and be a bit selfish and learn from them.  Obviously working like a mad man, making tones of money, doesn’t do it.  What does?

What did I learn the last 5 months!  Well, I already knew that people can be happy in the worst conditions, but I got to see it close up again and for longer periods of time.  I met people who had more wealth than I could ever imagine, and I met people who had nothing, and worked 12 hours a day with only 2 days a month off, who were happier than I have been in the past.  This really sunk in that happiness is what you make it.  It isn’t given to you, you make it happen!!!

I learned that how you look, truly means nothing.  I used to be extremely shy with how I look.  I hated taking off my shirt at the beach, because I thought I was too fat.  And if you know me, I was very critical of others on how they looked.  A person who was over weight I would always made ignorant comments about them and I don’t know why.  I hate people who make fun of others.

How did traveling help me in this area.  Well, I can tell you one story about a pretty hot Aussie girl I hung out with, said to me one day.  “Who the FUCK cares what others think about how I look!  This is what I was given, this is what I am going show. Like it, or don’t look.“.

During the time I hung out with her, I was also living with 3 other young girls ranging between 18 and 28.  Myself being 36, not once did they question my age, make me feel old, or comment on my looks.  They all treated me like a human being, and for the most part, I forgot I was much older than them.

I started to notice this was true everywhere.  I met tons of younger and older people in 7 different countries, and never once was I made to feel bad about how I look.  This really hit me, and being around positive people, I noticed I lost those negative thoughts myself.

So, one thing I learned was, who cares about how you look , or how someone else look, the only thing that matters is that you are a good person inside.

What else did I learn.  Well not caring about how others look, removes stress, and this is one step closer to being a better, happier person.

The next thing I learned was that Canadians, seem to think money is the world.  Well, it is NOT.  Living is!  I will never take another job because of the salary I am going to earn, and I am definitely not going to start working 55 – 70 hours a week again.  Who the hell wants to be 70 years old regret not doing something because you had to work.  No one has ever regretted enjoying life, but many have regretted working to much.

So the next thing I learned is life comes before work, plain and simple!

The last big question, why did I come back!   This isn’t a straight forward answer, and has many parts, but I am going to try and make it short and simple.

One of the reasons, is my backpacks are way to heavy and I am not packed right.  I want to fix this.

Another small reason, is my laptop is messed up and I can’t work on my Knob Apps company while traveling.  This is something I enjoy and wanted to be able to do.  Another small one is I left to quickly and have some small things to take care of here, such as dental, address changes, etc.  These are easier to fix from Canada.

Those are some small things, and here are the larger reasons.

I had all four grandparents alive, but one of them is very close to his end.  I felt guilty for not being here.  This is unlike me, as I have never felt sad, or cared when someone I know has passed on.  I have always said, its life.  Move on!  But this time was not  the same, I felt guilty and I don’t know why, but I knew I had to come back.

Well, with good luck, I made it home 1 week before my grandfather passed away.  He was 90 years old and one hell of an amazing guy.  I will miss his smile and sense of humor.

I only have one picture of him and I, from about 15 years ago and the other picture is from when he was 17.  Damn good looking guy!  He will be missed.

There are some other reasons, but they are too small and not worth mentioning.

This is my last post until I head out again, which I hope will be in a few months.  Take care all!

Toronto – And Beyond – Final Destination

8 am and Peter and I are off to the airport, where I catch my first flight to Dublin, and then onto Toronto, and then home.

When I arrive at the airport, I check in and give one last goodbye to Peter.  I thank him for spoiling me during the last week.  I will miss him and cannot wait to see Peter again in September.

My flight to Dublin was short and nice.  I think it was just over an hour.

The Dublin airport is really nice and has lots of cool things to look at.  I bought some Dublin Whiskey Chocolate, and had a pint of Guinness while I wait for my next flight.  I know that I will come back to Dublin for some great beers and to see Stonehenge.  Oh yes, and to laugh at their accents.  The few I talked to in the airport made me smile.

Anyways, my next flight is the big one, 7 hours to Toronto, but I am now a pro at these long flights.

6 hours later, we are flying over Ottawa, and it hits me, I am flying home!  I get anxiety and start to wonder why am I coming home so early, are my excuses valid as to why I am coming home?  I don’t have the answers, all I know is I have anxiety and don’t like the feeling.

All in all the flight home wasn’t bad.  I didn’t sleep but I did watch a few movies and made notes on my phone about my trip.  Surprisingly it went by fast and I was now in Toronto going through customs.

Customs was the same old customs, “How long will you be here?”, “Until I leave again, I live here!”.

“Why do you have a beard now?”, “Because I am lazy?”.

“You look a lot different from your passport picture!”, “Yes, it is 4 years old and I get older everyday, unfortunately I have age!”

And that was about it, he didn’t ask me if I have weapons, drugs, or booze.  Meh, I am in Canada now.

I head out of the airport and catch the Union Express train to Union station in Toronto, where I then catch the Go Train to Whitby.  I booked a hotel here because it was much cheaper than anywhere else, and it is also on the way out of Toronto.  A great place to start my hitching hiking home.

The next morning I check out of the hotel at 7:30 am and walk over to the West bound on ramp of the 401 to see if I can catch a ride.

20 minutes goes by and a truck pulls up.

Alan and his dog are on their way to a job site in Bowmanville.  This is just outside of Toronto, and I think it is a good place to catch my second ride.  So I jump in.

Alan and I have a great conversation about Brockville.  He loves it here and has been there several times.

Not long later he drops me off at the on ramp in Bowmanville.  I say thank you and goodbye to another new friend.

Well, 2.5 hours passes and not a single car even gives a look at me.  I know this isn’t going to happen, and I don’t see much around.  My cell phone doesn’t have a SIM card, because Toronto Airport doesn’t have cell phone providers.  BTW, this is the ONLY airport I have been in that doesn’t sell travel sims for tourist.  WTF, CANADA!, get with the times!


So I can’t look on google maps to see what is around.  I just start walking north to the town.  About a kilometer away, there is a Tim Horton’s.  This is great, they have Wifi.

I use the Wifi and see there is no buses and trains.  My next option is to walk 5 kilometers to a car rental place or go back to trying to hitchhike, but I think I have given up on that one.

An hour later of carrying two backpacks, I arrive in the area I though the car rental place was, but there is nothing.  It is a business park.  Remember, I don’t have internet, so I can’t google it.

I take another guess and walk down a side street, looking for people.  I find two ladies standing outside and ask them if there is a car rental place.  They point towards another street and I walk that way.  A few minutes later I see Enterprise and 2 cars.

With luck, the one car is available.  I rent it and am off to Kingston to find a car to buy.

On my drive to Kingston it hits me again.  I get anxiety and realize I am worried that I will find a job and not leave, and that I will fall back into my old self.  Unhappy, angry, and mean.  I don’t want to loose everything I have gained while traveling.  This is why I am getting anxiety, it isn’t because I don’t want to be home.

Well, I make it to Kingston and look at a few cars.  None of them are any good.

I head over to the gas station where my sister works to say hi.  She tells me she is done at 5 pm and she can come take a look at the next car together.

5 pm is here, I pick her up and head over to the car.  It is a vintage 1996 Honda Odyssey, and is in decent shape for $750 CAD.  I take another quick look at it decide to take it.

I now have a car and just need to get it safetied, which should be easy as it just passed a check 60 days ago.  The e-test is already done, so I don’t need that.

I drop off my sister and head over to Dave’s.  I am mooching off of him tonight 🙂 but they think I am awesome so it is all good.

Seeing Dave and his family is great.  Not much has changed, and we just hangout for the night and catch up.

Well, I am back, I just now have to say hi to everyone and figure out what I am doing.  At the moment my first step is to get my car on the road legally and to see my grandfather, as he is probably not going to be in this world much longer.

Hi All!  My next post will be the last one!

Another great night visiting friends before I depart

Today I spent way to much time around Brockville trying to find a hikers backpack, when I decided to head up to Kingston.   With perfect timing Dave was just finished his interview with OMS the same time I got there.

After meeting up, we hit two stores and I quickly had a new backpack and shoes.  This means I actually have to pack.

We had missed lunch, so I knew it was time to feed the beast. and no better place to take Dave’s Thai Food virginity than Pat’s.  OMG – I miss eating there.  Amazing spice, with a perfectly cooked chicken.  So perfect, you can almost count down to heart burn, and your windows being rolled down in the car.

To top off an amazing day, we decided to grab some beers and a few bottles of cheap white wine. We also allowed Melissa to hang with the cool kids that night.

Oh yeah, thanks Ethan for showing me your back end and saying .  Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle.  Father like son.  Maybe when he is older he will wear clothes?

 

Final day at work part deux

Yesterday was my last day at work and to my surprise, even Beth was nice.  However, she never brought me cake.  Lame excuse, I forgot.

The day started off pretty good, as I was excited to finish off a work order I opened the day before.  I don’t know why, but I really wanted to leave on a high note.  Plus, I might need to beg for this job back in a year or so.

As I was deep in though and working very, very hard.  Miss Giggles, IE Boss called me into her office for my final review, and to no surprise she had nothing but good things to say, or of course all I heard was.  Rob, you are awesome, and gosh darn nit people like you.  Thanks Simone for the ego boost, we all know I truly needed.

Shortly after my morning ego boost, the DSU Team got together for lunch.  One of my favorite foods, Paradiso pizza.  MMMM grease, and meat, soon time for my regularly scheduled afternoon nap.  Just kidding!

Half way thorough scarfing down my pizza, the team gave me a nice card and close to a million Hersey Cookies and Cream Chocolate bars.  For the few that know the store about them, this is Beth trying to make me sick on my last day.  Either way, it was a pretty cool gift and also proves she does listen to my stories.


One last shout out to Roland my favorite baker.  After lunch he brought in Apple Crisp and Vanilla ice cream. The perfect way to my heart.

After a handful of goodbyes and safe travels from everyone, I will miss you all and hope to one day see you all again.

Thanks for the great memories.

Last Halloween in Canada

Last night I had some pretty amazing laughs.

First off, I thought it would be funny to toss on the bunny suit, grab an empty beer mug, and head over to the Milburn’s, hoping it would be just Kerry and Mona.  As normal, I was wrong.  The entire family was there to laugh with me?  Why was I the only one dressed up!

After a Happy Halloween Rye and Ginger, I headed into town to see Brian, Todd and their side kick, Tyler.  Once again, thanks for laughing with me?

It was a great night seeing Sheri, Roberta and the runts.

Happy Halloween everyone!