July 14, 2012

A leaf on the wind

I've been trying to keep my stress level down lately, actively forcing myself to be calm. Why? Well, I've discovered I'm not a very good copy editor. What I thought was a fairly strong grasp of grammar and spelling turns out to be... lacking. And, as they say in copy editing, one mistake ruins the whole article.

So there's been a lot of critical feedback at my interning gig (as there should be when the standard is perfection) and it's been getting to me. I don't like being the weakest link.

My tactics for fighting stress so far include deep breathing, listening to nature soundtracks via Grooveshark (yes, those terrible CDs that are sold at knick knack shops, I know, I know) and taking five minute breaks to view the sunset through the Free Press office's impressive windows.

And dwelling on past experiences when everything worked out in the end.

(Wayne and Garth time travel segue)

In spring 2006, Mel and I were in the early days of cohabitation (ah, the youthful days of living in sin), on eclectic, occasionally exciting Kennedy Street. Between theatre gigs, I was brewing and stewing at the late Portage Place Prairie Ink. Mel was lifeguarding at the YMCA-YWCA's downtown branch.

And she was up for recertification as a lifeguard; a charming gauntlet of breathing into plastic dolls and swimming until you're a prune. The day before her testing, Mel took her carefully preserved original certificates to the U of W for photocopying, then skipped back to our apartment.

On arrival home, one of her important certificates was missing. Drat! It was probably left at the university on the photocopier. But no, it wasn't there. And it wasn't turned in at security. And it wasn't dropped in the apartment. Which meant it was dropped on the street - a wee certification the size of a business card loose in windy downtown Winnipeg.

This is about the time when I arrived home. Mel wasn't err... happy... because lifeguarding certificates aren't kept on file somewhere - lifeguards are responsible for keeping their own papers intact. Meaning Mel wouldn't have to do a recert - she'd have to get certified all over again (many more hours, much more work, much grief). And it was possible she wouldn't be able to work until she got her certification again.

Mel had already searched the four blocks from our apartment to the university, but I thought I'd give it a try. She said it was hopeless, what with the wicked wind. But there wasn't anything else I could do.

I checked the route. It wasn't anywhere to be seen. But I walked past the University, following leaves kicked up by the gusting air, looking where the rushing traffic swept shopping bags and styrofoam cups.

Two blocks on, in a downramp full of debris, I saw a little rectangle of paper pressed up to a brick wall. It was Mel's certification.

Did I act like a smug son of a gun when I got home. Yes. Was Mel shocked and happy beyond belief? Yes. (A phrase she used when she told people this story: "He was born with Jesus up his sleeve.")

It all worked out, just by being a leaf on the wind.

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