Life

Oakville – Arrival


I almost didn’t make it.

An early-morning tragedy left us cold, hungry, and alone on the streets of Ottawa. Desperate for food and shelter, we roamed – finding nothing. Our safe haven, our final shared moment was brutally taken from us in the most horrific way imaginable: Cora’s was closed.

Cora’s, for those of you who don’t know, is the finest breakfast chain anywhere. Think Denny’s, but classier, and it is only open when it is reasonable to expect breakfast, not all damn night. You go to Cora’s when you want a fine breakfast, not when your drunk self wants late-night snarfles.

Our final breakfast in Ottawa was to be in Cora’s – a place with many fond memories. But with Cora’s operating on holiday hours, it wouldn’t open until shortly before my train’s departure. We couldn’t go. Plans were ruined.

We walked – tired, hungry, and cold. Under overpasses, across strangely empty intersections, and through deep snowy patches. Morale faltered, to say the least. But then, finally, in the distance – a sign! “Perkins”, it said.

Inside was breakfast – french toast, eggs, waffles, the whole nine yards. Breakfast, and thus the mood, was saved. The day was already hard enough to take without our final breakfast being ruined, too.

In the Via station, we were both allowed into the First-Class lounge, which was a nice way to spend our final few moments. We chatted – small talk mostly, since actually facing up to the larger issues was too much to bear. Eventually, my train arrived, and I had to go.

I don’t think you can ever appreciate how hard it can be to say goodbye until you have to say it to someone who is crying, and you cannot be there to comfort them. You can’t tell them that everything will be okay, and that it will all get better, because that would be lying – it can’t get better, because what’s wrong is that you’re leaving, and by definition you can’t stay around to be of comfort.

I almost stopped right there, dropped my ticket to the floor, and stayed. I wanted very badly to be there, to stay there, to make it all better. There was a moment of hesitation, but it passed, and I was strong again – strong enough at least to walk through the pain, to get on the train.

I got on the train, eyes damp, throat aching. I stowed my luggage, then spent the rest of the time in-station looking at the windows for a face. It was a very hard thing for me when we started moving and my vigil hadn’t been rewarded, but I don’t blame her at all – I don’t think things would have been better at all if we had spend that small time crying at each other through the windows.

The train left Ottawa, and I swallowed past the ache in my throat. After all, it’s only three months. A long three months, for sure, but only that. It’s not forever.

Attempting as best as I could to put that from my mind, I focused instead on the first-class service. The difference in price between Economy fare and First Class was fifty bucks, and the difference in service is worth AT LEAST that.

Cereal, Yogurt, fresh fruits, and freshly-baked bread. Neverending, decent coffee. And they brought the drinks cart ’round at eleven-thirty AM. When I asked for whiskey, they has Wiser’s Special Blend, and without hesitation, the stewardess dumped three pours into a glass with a few cubes of ice.

Before long, I was feeling no pain, and we had arrived.

In Toronto, I had a three-hour layover that I spent looking for a laptop bag to fit my new laptop. No luck, however. Everyone and their dog makes a nice-looking laptop bag that fits a 15″ laptop, but nobody seems to target the 17″+ crowd, which is silly, since we are the crowd who is clearly cool with forking out the dough for a fancy laptop in the first place. You could make a really nice bag and charge a premium for it and we would pay.

Finally, my train arrived, and we departed for Oakville.

Oakville and HitGrab.

HitGrab and MouseHunt.

I had expected to enjoy my work, yes, but I had not expected to enjoy it this much. The HitGrab offices are full of wonderful people, all working on wonderful things. They are all intensely passionate about what they’re working on – you won’t find a single person there “phoning it in”, even on their bad days.

And they’re razor-sharp, too. If they have a suggestion, it’s for a reason, not just because it would be cool, but because it would help the economy, or make a certain difficult task more understandable, or make the game more fun. They can quote studies and reference statistics from the tops of their heads. They know who is doing what in the industry, what lessons have been learned, and how to incorporate all this into current and future projects.

The people at HitGrab are silly and fun, and they are smart and deadly-serious, and they are gamers and they are businessmen. They love what they do, and they love the people they are doing it for.

I’m making some excellent friends in this office, and making friends of their friends, too – all fantastic people. Heck, I just got home from a snowball fight followed by warm cocoa not long ago.

It’s taking me some time to get used to Oakville the city, but it feels like I’ve known the people of Oakville forever – it’s only the formality of not having met them yet that was getting in the way.

I am really, really liking it here, and I am very much looking forward to my new job and life. 2011 is going to be a good year.

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  • Geoff

    GeoffGeoff

    Author

    What happens after 3 months?


  • Dan Hulton

    Dan HultonDan Hulton

    Author

    Shannon moves here, we find an apartment together.