Kenora and The Great Sub Shop Robbery. (Call the cops, please)

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Welcome to Kenora Husky Muskie

Sometimes, while on the road, crazy just crops up, and before you know it you are in a whirlwind of stupidity.

The other day at work a reporter I know mentioned that she was heading to subway. It had been a long and boring morning centered around a municipal budget meeting. Sandy, with her usual smile, asked me if I wanted anything. I had brown bagged it so I declined at first, but then figured a diet pop would do nicely.

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Beautiful downtown Stouffville

I smiled inside as I wondered what she would get at Subway. Sandy is “vegan” and likes to run, bike, and engage in athletic activities. What meatless food could possibly fuel this lady.
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Vegan Lunch

Me, I need meat, meat and more meat. I’m protein driven, preferably the hamburgers and sausage kind.

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Protein Driven

Now Stouffville Ontario, a beautiful town just northeast of Toronto, is a long way from Kenora Ontario. I had been reflecting on what I would write about in my next post and I had an epiphany. Here I was working security at a town budget meeting and being offered lunch. How things have changed over the years. How my personal struggles had paid off. Twenty five years ago I would never have believed I would have been in any position to graciously decline any offer of food, especially a sub. Sub’s played a major part in an adventure consisting of stupidity and a possible jail term.

Sandy’s kind offer and the sight of her vegan appropriate sub, reminded me of a rainy night, long ago in Kenora Ontario.

Yes it involves an attempted robbery by yours truly. I wasn’t alone but I dreamed up the plan. Me and a good friend had the fortune of experiencing a jail, Ace Submarines, the Kenrisha Hotel,and the Husky Muskie. The story is crazy to tell but trust me, it is the Gods honest truth. That’s the craziest part of this story, it actually happened.

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Kenrishia Hotel, Kenora Ontario

This misadventure started out just south of Kenora, on a soaking wet, mud filled soft shoulder, of the TransCanada. Jaz, short for Jasper, and I had legged about four miles in the rain. Prior to our rain infused walkabout we had visited the local constabularies looking for a dry bunk to temporarily call home. Well I guess the man didn’t feel to hospitable because the words, ” you guys ain’t staying here so move on” were not the words of welcome we had hoped for.

Well to say the least, we were pissed. As we headed out of town, Jaz and I competed in how many derogatory names we could attach to the not so fine men in blue of Kenora. Eventually the insane down pouring of cold rain diminished our zeal for name calling and we simply trudged southward, out of town. We ended up sitting on a soft shoulder, in the middle of rain soaked nowhere. Destitute and drowning.

When its dark in northern Ontario, its really dark. Throw in a torrential hammering of ball bearing size raindrops and the night becomes beyond black. Now wrap this situation in a northern wind and the night becomes a vagrants nightmare. Once you are soaked and shivering there is no reprieve, well not until the sun rises! We were a long ways away from any solar blessings.

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Rain on Northern Ontario Highway by Wawa

As it would turn out fate was about to bitch slap us. We had managed to collect enough cigarette butts to create a supply of tobacco to be able to roll smokes for the day. What we did was go to buildings with communal ashtrays, collect the butts and break them open. Then we would pour the tobacco into a used tobacco pouch. This, with a supply of vogue papers, made for the makings of rolled smokes. Well the pickings had been minimal and we were running out quickly.

Let me explain one thing. No smokes when sitting in the second coming of Noah’s flood is more than one should ever have to face. Our spirits where on a quick decline.

Suddenly, Jasper, always bordering on crazy, jumped up and began pacing. To my amazement he got this stupid grin on his face and stated, “that’s a fucking jail over there!” Before I could reply he was across the highway and disappearing down a ditch, and out of sight. The next thing I notice is that this insane, drenched, crazy partner of mine was creeping up to the front door of this building. He looked like a cartoon doing the tippy toed, covert sneaky movement thing best left to Sylvester trying to get at Tweety bird.

I couldn’t yell out because I didn’t want to blow his cover. I was laughing and squinting through the rain, trying to make sense out of the absurdity of what I was witnessing.

The rain against my glasses made sight as frustrating as not having a smoke during this monsoon. I tried peeling off my glasses to see what I could see. Did I mention that I’m as blind as a bat. I couldn’t see diddly squat. Time passed , but each minute seemed like a fortnight. Thoughts of Jasper getting pinch for trespass did nothing to cheer up this situation. We had been travelling for a few years together and had become friends, no partners is a better word. I was a bit perplexed yet held hostage by the moments insanity. Some crazy shit was going down, this I knew. But what?

It seemed like about an hour before I saw Jasper coming back across the highway. There was nobody chasing him. Now I was really stumped. “What the fuck?” Was my intellectual response. Jaz simply grinned from ear to ear and casually reached into his coat pocket and held up a fresh, unopened, bail of Daily Mail tobacco. If any of you have spent a vacation in an Ontario jail, prior to the new pissant, no smoking in jail era, you know Daily Mail. I began laughing as I asked, ” what did you do?” Jasper calmly suggested we get away from the area. Well we decided to head back into town. Why I have no clue but to town we headed, smoking and laughing up a storm.

As we rolled fresh curlies, an old time nickname for hand rolled smokes, I learned that my travelling partner was, by far, the ballsiest nutbar, I would ever know. He actually B and E’d the jail and somehow stole tobacco. I don’t know how. Probably never will but some things are best left alone. Yes, you read that correctly but let me repeat it for you! While walking into town I learned that Jasper somehow got into the jail, scored tobacco, and escaped unscathed.

My laughter was only overshadowed by my competitive nature. I turned to Jasper and told him to follow my lead. I had a plan on insuring us a warm bed, food, and a welfare cheque. I think this is when crazy visited my grey matter and set up shop. Part of our nature was trying to out do each other. It made things interesting and fun. His dyslexic jail break would be hard to top, but I was game!

When we reached town we headed back to the cop shop and explained to the cop that we had not been able to get a ride, needed a place to sleep, and get out of the elements. Again we were denied. My last words to the pillar of society sitting behind the desk was something along the lines of…” You will be putting us up, you just don’t realize this yet!”

I reminded Jasper to follow my lead. It was his turn to inquire as to ” what the fuck?”. I took us downtown and found a sub shop. Ace Sub’s was the town sub shop and it was about to become the instrument of my ultimate plan. We entered and the smell was awesome. Bread, meats, cheese, coffee etc. Heaven on earth. As I reached the counter I couldn’t help notice that Jasper had regained his grin. I figured he knew I was up to some whacked out shit and that things were about to get interesting.

Well I ordered two assorted sub’s, two double double coffees. Jasper claimed one of the fire truck red tables while I hung out at the counter. The guy behind the counter, a young looking Italian, began to prep our order. Nice looking kid. Long wavy hair, slim build, and a contagious smile. If he wasn’t making sandwiches he would be out dancing in a disco, impressing young northern Ontario girls.

As he was finishing the sandwiches I piped up with the stupidest line I have ever used in a restaurant. ” Hey pal, can you do me and my pal here a huge favour?” The kid replied “sure what is it?” He placed the huge, meat filled torpedo shaped sandwiches on the counter. As I grabbed on to more food than I had seen in a long while I answered with a brief but firm, “call the cops.” All I got in return was, “why?” John, as I would learn his name later, looked shocked and confused.

I proceeded to explain that Jasper and I were broke so we were robbing him of his food. This poor guy blanched and hesitantly asked us if we were serious. I told him that we were hungry, wet and at our wits end, so yes, we were indeed serious. Well this nice kid simply told us that he would not call the cops and we should just sit and eat, no charge.

I thanked him for his kindness and explained to him that we needed to have the cops called. I told him that my partner and I would get about thirty days in lock up. This was a pivotal part of my plan. Back then if you served more than 27 days you were automatically entitled to an emergency welfare cheque.

Behind me I heard Jasper chuckle.

My plan was to get three hots and a cot, a recuperating sabbatical, followed by enough green to buy tickets to Toronto, with cash to spare.

I explained all of this to the guy behind the counter. Again he stated that he didn’t want to call the cops on us. I pleaded a bit more aggressively and he reached for the phone.

A booming voice erupted from the rear of the seating area. ” Hold on John, just hang up!”. Well John hung up and poured us more coffee. I looked at Mr Booming Voice and asked him what he was doing. This dude began laughing so hard that all of us, including John, the sub maker, started to laugh. The customer , after getting a grip, stated that he had a room at the Kenrishia Hotel and we could crash there for the night. He suggested that we could, and should, use the shower as well as dry out a bit. This new found benefactor offered to pay for our grub, yet John refused to take any money.

After finishing the sub’s and coffee we headed to the hotel. After a couple of shots to warm up we got cleaned up and eventually passed out on the floor of this kind gentleman’s room. We slept soundly.

The next morning brought out the sun and that heavenly morning smell of evaporating rain, flowers and fresh country air. We thanked our friend and headed out the door. Before we got out of the room our host handed us twenty bucks and directed us to a small cafe.

By the time we finished an awesome scarfing of eggs, bacon, home fries, toast and coffee we decided we could survive with out the need for a short period of incarceration.

We made Hogtown in two days, after a stop at the Sudbury Salvation Army for a night.

The only thing missing in this post is a heart felt thank you to John and Bruce for their kindness on one of the craziest nights I have ever lived through.

Once again simple acts of kindness can, and often do make a difference.

Now here I am sitting in Council Chambers smiling inside. I’ve come a long way since that rainy night in Kenora. Sandra is enjoying her veggie sub, the Mayor is about to call the meeting to order and for some reason…..I’m craving an Assorted Sub!

Bye for now.

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