On Thieves, Tom Cruise, and Hot Pursuit

cruise running

One of the most bizarre things that has ever happened to me happened last night.

It was pretty late, and Sue and I had just finished watching some Netflix. As we were tidying up and locking doors, Sue said, “Is that a light on in the car?”

We looked out and, sure enough, the light was on. Which is odd, as the lights are supposed to go off. I was thinking I’d have to go out and turn off the light when a head pops up above the dashboard.

Now, if this had been a cartoon, we would have done a double take. I mean, seeing a head in your car – late at night – is so out-of-the-ordinary that I didn’t quite process what was going on.

So, the door closes and a tall, young looking shape ambles off down the street. And I mean ambled. Maybe strolled is a better word. Not a care in the world.

Sue, meanwhile, has her wits about her. Which is one of the reasons I married her. She opens the door and yells “Hey!” or something of that nature.

The guy continues to saunter.

Six of seven brain cells have finally begun to fire. I’m still thinking What? No. Really?, but at least I am moving out of the house to the car. I take a quick look at the car.

No damage, so we must have forgotten to lock it after unloading the groceries earlier in the day. Valuables from the glove compartment are neatly stacked on the passenger seat. And by valuables, I mean stacks of fast-food napkins that we will need “someday”.

And the parking change is gone from the console.

Sue, meanwhile, is yelling at the guy as he continues to meander down the street. By now, he’s about a half a block away.

Brain cell number seven fires, and I yell out “Hey!” Only it comes out kind of wimpy. So I yell again. “Hey!” And this time, I use my football coach voice, which I honed over many years of yelling at – I mean instructing – kids.

He glances over his shoulder. And continues to promenade down the street. In desperation to catch his attention, I bellow “Dude!”

He replies. “What?” And continues to perambulate.

“What do you think you are doing?” I ask. Which isn’t something that Schwarzenegger would say in a movie but I thought was a fair question.

“Just walking,” he says.

To be forthcoming, at this point I was incredulous. I mean here I was, in the middle of the night, having a very civilized, if yelled, conversation with a young fellow who just took a bunch of change from our car.

I decided to quicken my pace, and the chase was on.

And by chase, I mean … well, have you ever seen a Tom Cruise movie? You know how there’s the obligatory Cruise chases the bad guy on foot scene? And Tom is booking it and scenery is flying by? He dodges boxes and jumps over cars. All while not a hair moves out of place?

This was nothing like that.

In fact, this was the opposite of that. In this chase, the perp (I’ve learned cop lingo from watching Murder, She Wrote) was wandering down the street, with me marching behind him.

In all fairness, I wasn’t dressed for a chase. I was wearing a pair of shorts, an old man cardigan, ’cause it was stinking cold last night, and a pair of slippers. I dare Cruise to try and pull off that look in his next high speed pursuit.

No, this chase was a lot more … uh … OJ Simpson than Ethan Hunt. All I needed was a white Ford Bronco, and I could have made the news.

So the chase began.

I broke into a sprint. Now again, in the interests of full disclosure, I’m not fast. Even in my prime, which was a year or two ago, I wasn’t fast. Quick maybe, but not fast.

In fact, back in high school, I once scored a touchdown. Well, not to brag, I scored several touchdowns, but that’s not important. Anyway, I got back to the bench, and Coach Neher says “You were so smooth, it looked like you were barely moving.”

Which I don’t think was a compliment.

So, I broke into a sprint. Which is hard for me to do at the best of times but is really tough in slippers. I had to keep my toes flexed, or they would have fallen off. The slippers, not my toes. The toes are attached.

The dude turns his head, and I was pretty sure the chase was over. If he would have run at that point, there was no way I would have caught him. Heck, he could have simply gone from a stroll to a brisk walk, and he would have left me behind.

But, he just kept on moseying along. I saw him duck behind a transformer, so I slowed down and prepared myself for the worst. Unfortunately, all I could think about, self-defense wise, was “Keep your hips low.”

Which is good advice, if you are playing football. Or any sport, really. But maybe not so helpful in this particular situation.

I cautiously rounded the transformer, and there he was. Not menacing. Not reaching into his pocket for a weapon. Nope. Dude was lighting a little cigar.

I am not kidding. He pulls a little cigar (like an Old Port, Canada’s most popular little cigar when they used to sponsor the half-time CFL shows) out of his pocket and lights it.

Well, this was awkward. What do you say to a guy who stole loose change from your car and then you managed to hunt down after a not-so-high speed chase?

“Why did you break into my car?” I asked. Which, again, you won’t hear in a Dirty Harry movie. I thought it was appropriate.

“I didn’t,” he said. Although his eyes were up and to the right as he said it, so I didn’t believe him. Plus, we had seen him do it.

“Dude,” I said. “I saw you do it.”

And he hung his head. Yes, just like Charlie Brown.

To be honest, I didn’t know what to do. He was not threatening in any way, other than the fact that he was in his early to mid twenties, fit, and bigger than I was. He looked like a little boy who had just gotten caught stealing some cookies his Mom had told him not to take. Which maybe he had. Except it was change from a car.

“I shouldn’t have done that, should I?” he said.

No, you shouldn’t have. And I delivered a short, yet stern lecture. A lecture! Can you imagine that scene in a movie?

Hero: Give me the nuke!

Bad Guy: I don’t have the nuke.

Hero: I saw you take it. Besides, what are you holding behind your back?

[Bad Guy’s head slumps forward]

Bad Guy: You’re right. I shouldn’t have taken it, should I have?

Hero: No you shouldn’t have. You know, people work hard for the money to build their own nukes. You can’t just go around taking other people’s nukes. It’s not right. Why don’t you get a real job, earn your own money, and then build your own nuke? Trust me, you’ll have a greater feeling of accomplishment.

So, I finished my lecture and ended it with, and I am not making this up, “Son, I have to say I’m disappointed with your actions.”

And he was hanging his head a scuffing the ground with his shoe. “Sorry,” he said.

What would you do? It’s not like I had any plan to call the police.

“Hello, officer? Yeah, some kid took $14.72 in change from my car. No, he didn’t break in. I must have left it unlocked when I unloaded the groceries. Yes, I’d like him to do hard time for the theft of the $14.72.”

There was this sort of awkward silence. He turned to leave, and I said “Aren’t you forgetting something?”

He says “What?”

“I would like my money back.”

He puts his hand into his pocket and hauls out all the change he took. “This is all I took,” he said. “Honest.”

“Don’t do it again,” I said.

And we parted ways.

When I got back to the house, Sue had her phone in her hand, ready to call 911 if I had been attacked. Or, more likely, had a heart attack from the hot pursuit.

When I told her the rest of the story, we both laughed for a very long time.

What would you have done?

And The Lights Went Out All Over The World!



Cylon, from Battlestar Galactica at DeviantArt.com

I am a fan of technology. I think smartphones are cool, although I don’t like them when they interrupt conversations. Computers can do amazing things, and the internet, in spite of being created by the military to host porn, has democratized information. So, all in all, I’m a fan of technology.

However … there are places that technology should not be. Places where, thank you very much, good old plain, analog solutions are best.

Take the restroom, for example.

The word “restroom”, by the way, must be one of the best euphemisms ever created. I don’t know about you, but I have never rested in a restroom. Done my business? Yes. Washed up? Yes. Seen amazing feats of boyish prowess performed? Yes.

Rested? No.

I’m a bit of a connoisseur of restrooms. This is not because of some morbid fascination I have with human processes. No – and this is probably too much information – I just happen to spend quite a bit of time in restrooms.

On a regular basis, I get some special sauce dripped into my veins. (And no, this part has nothing to do with restrooms … although I understand your confusion.) This is done, appropriately in my case, in the bowels of an old building. An old, and until recently, analog building. Not too long ago, though, the twentieth century reared its head.

We got the internet.

Now, I didn’t do a cartwheel or anything – which, by the way, is tough to do when you have an IV in your arm and you are attached to a pole – but that was nice. Cell reception down in the bowels of huge, old, concrete buildings is never very good, so the interweb helps while away the hours while Dr Oz is playing on TV.

Nature often calls during these times, and, when nature calls, I always choose to respond.

I walked into the restroom, and I immediately knew something was different. The light, whose switch until recently had a sign on it saying “Please turn off lights when leaving”, came on. Automatically! Is this some sort of witchcraft? I hesitantly made my way in and settled myself in my favourite stall. Which is actually the only stall, but why split hairs.

So, there I was. Resting and minding my own business. And the lights went out.

Now, I’m not afraid of the dark. As a kid, I was, and so I forced myself out into the dark to confront my fears. I guess I must have been successful, because the dark doesn’t scare me. Much.

The dark, however, makes certain, restful movements more difficult. Not the movements themselves; more like the clean up in the aftermath of Hurricane Ron.

I figured – and here is where my technological savvy was most helpful – that the light was motion activated. So, I thought, if I just make some motion, the light will come back on.

It’s sound reasoning like that that has gotten me to this life of luxury that I enjoy  today.

So, I shifted on my restful perch. Nothing. I wiggled around and moved my legs. Nothing.

I reached my arms into the air and sang “YMCA”. Which is tough to do when you are in a small stall with your IV pole crammed in with you.


I carefully stood up and stretched an arm heavenward. Success! The lights were back on. Hurray for technology!

I finished resting and proceeded to reach for the flush mechanism.

Hmmm. Where the heck is it? And what is this blinking red light? Are the Cylons taking over the earth, starting with restrooms?

Again, my vast, technological prowess took over. Perhaps the toilet operates on the same principle as the lights?

I waved my hand in front of the blinking light. Nothing. I tried sitting down and standing back up. Nothing. I even thought I’d try lifting a hand heavenward. Hey, it worked for the lights.


There must be a button or lever or something for cases like this. I looked everywhere, but couldn’t find anything.

Shit. Literally and figuratively. You see, I can’t not flush a toilet after I’ve used it. People coming after me don’t need to see the surface of Mars in the toilet bowl. Although, one time, there was a pretty cool statue of Michelangelo’s David.

So I frantically searched for some way to flush the stinking toilet. By now, I’m on my hands and knees, with an IV pole riding my butt. As I grope around the toilet, somehow – and I’m pretty sure there was some divine intervention – the toilet flushed.

And the lights went off. But the lights I could fix, so I figured my ordeal was nearly over.

I just needed to wash my hands.

Until recently, I was able to wash my hands using a simple tap mechanism: I turned the handle and water came out of the tap.

There were no handles.

However, the same spawn of Baltar appeared to be controlling the water flow, so I moved my hand in front of the blinking light.


I tried waving my hand in front of it. Nothing. By now, my frustration level was mounting, and if the nurse had taken my blood pressure, it may have been slightly elevated.

As I tried to calm myself, a voice spoke in the back of my mind. “Ronald-san. Paint the fence.”

When Mr Miyagi tells you to paint the fence, you paint the fence.

I moved my hands up and down, to no avail. “Ronald-san. Try side to side.”

I tried side to side. Then I tried “Sand the floor”.


Out of frustration, I gave the sink the finger.

Out came the water.

I quickly put my hand under the flow, but it turned off; however, I was able to restart it by continuously keeping my driving finger extended.

Success! I nearly cried with relief.

Now, the only issue was to dry my hands. Until recently, I had been able to pull a paper towel out of a slot and dry my hands. Apparently this was too difficult a task to manage. Now the helpful Cylon was suggesting that I wave my hand to receive a piece of paper towel.

I placed myself directly in front of the towel dispenser, drew myself up to “attention”, and threw the machine a smart, crisp, one finger salute.

The lights went out just as the dispenser dispensed some paper towel.

Methane: A Menace to Global Warming

It’s not everyday that you make it into the top 10. Not meaning to brag, of course, but pay special attention to number 10.

Top 10 Causes of Global Warming
1) Power Plants
3) Farming
4) Deforestation
5) Fertilizers
6) Oil Drilling
7) Natural Gas Drilling
8) Permafrost
9) Garbage
10) Volcanic Eruption

In an unrelated news story, local Saskatoon resident Ron Schellenberg was congratulated by Saskatoon Mayor Don Atchison. “In an area not known for its volcanic eruptions, we are especially proud that Mr Schellenberg has put us on the volcano map.”

According to un-named sources, Schellenberg has been spewing noxious gasses for approximately two months.

“Yes, it’s fine for Atch to brag him up,” stated Schellenberg’s long-suffering spouse, “but he doesn’t have to live with him. You wouldn’t believe how many clothespins I need to make it through the day. It’s also not fun having SaskEnergy in every other day to check for neighbourhood gas leaks.”

Schellenberg’s children have also suffered. “It used to be that just his jokes stank,” stated one. The other said “My friend’s nose hair was somehow chemically burned. I’m an outcast.”

One neighbour, meanwhile, had to be rushed to emergency after an unfortunate BBQ accident. “I hadn’t even turned on the propane,” complained the man. “I just lit a match, and the next thing I knew, I was waking up in the ambulance. The man is a menace. A menace, I tell you!”

With the number of complaints rising, Mayor Atchison stated “As proud as we are, we may have to call a special counsel meeting to discuss the issue. We are hopeful that we can perhaps harvest the methane to power some critical, city-run utilities.”

Again, in an unrelated story, the city waste collection plant has been working overtime.