This joint is hopping!

The Fort Mac relief distribution center has been hopping Friday and today, Saturday. Word got out that you can come back a second time. The whole process goes like this:

People enter the center (what used to be a 2-story Target at the Kingsway Mall in Edmonton). They are split into first time “shoppers” or second time and join the appropriate line where certain things are checked. Both lines then join into one. The evacuees then reach the end of the line where a lovely woman named Marion checks the paperwork and pairs them up with the next volunteer on line. The colunteers who do this are called shoppers and that is what I’ve been doing. As their personal shopper, I explain the procedure to them and try to level set on expectations. Expectations such as they may not be anke to get shoes as most of the shoes appear to be men’s size 9 ams women’s size 7. And I try to give them a stock status on other things on the list (plenty of tampons and sanitary napkins but no panty liners – there Kelly O’Doherty, I said panty!). I explain that we’ll cover the center in a clockwise rotation statting with men’s, ladies, kids, infants, bedding, diapers, formula, toiletries, ladies sanitary supplies, toilet paper, laundry detergent, water, toys (genius move with the toys. It helps bring a little normalcy to the child’s day) then pet food. Not all stops on the Wheel of Samsara are needed. when then “check out” and i’ll wheel the cart out to the car, load stuff into the vehicle, exchamge final pleasantries thwn head back inside to pick up new clients and loop the distribution center once again. it is a very good system and generally runs smoothly. Backups do occur when folks really take too long. Some folls select clothing likenthey’re looking for permamemt attire, which isn’t what it’s about. It’s Blitzkreig shopping, find the aize and move on! The woman Marion mentioned before is truly the right person for that job. She has patience, but can go all drill sargeant on you in a NY minute! But it is done with love and affection. Jard to explain but it works and ahe is perfect.

I met a guy in the lunch room yesterday who originally is from The Netherlands but has lived in Canada for over 30 uears. He’a been voluteering just about everyday since he hot into Edmonton. He’s from Ft McMurry but wasn’t there when the wildfires broke out. Friends were staying in his house and had to abandon it. His house was incinerated, total loss of home and contents. His attitude though was amazing. No self-pity for him. He just accepted it and spends his days helping fellow evacuees.  In fact, there are quite a few volunteers who are from Ft Mac. It’s amazing.

Holy crap is beer expensive here! A six pack of Kokanee (brewed in BC) costs $15.00 CAD. That’s $11.54 American!!!!! For a six pack!!! It’s decent beer but it’s like Coors. Ouch, poor Canucks!

I saw two firsts today. Ground squirrels and magpies. The magpies remind me of a cross between a crow and a mockingbird. They are black and white with an extremely long tail. The ground squirrels looked like small prairie dogs.

Sunday will be pretty cool. The aforementioned Marion invited me and some other volunteers over for Sunday Dinner. A day at the salt mine volunteering then a home-cooked meal, company, a few drinks and shootin the breeze!

All right, back to my book on the Philly Mob – great stuff! I’ll post again tomorrow, maybe with something cool and interesting for once!

73 – Jim


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