Saturday, October 17, 2020

Please be forewarned that this article was written as the first intensive snowfall began plummeting from a colourless sky. If these paragraphs appear peppered with cynicism and spite, this is why. I have once again been handed the task of defending my ability to work from home in spite of growing virus numbers and increased productivity from my fingertips. It’s a silly dance I must do to protect my sanity, and if nothing else it will serve as a reminder that I may not wish to spend the remainder of my working days as a beige-cubicle drone. Could I be a professional celebrator instead? Given that I’ve earned zero dollars so far this year I’m guessing no. But dammit, this year won’t quit and neither will we. Here’s our yesterday:

National Department Store Day

I’m going to start out by getting all middle-aged-guy and reminiscing about the beauty of the department store, a dying breed of retail establishment that will probably never make a true comeback. We’ve got Walmart, but Walmart is usually a bit different. If there’s a grocery component involved then technically it’s a ‘hypermarket’. The ones without grocery would be discount department stores, but if we were to compare them to the greatest department store chains, the only thing they’d win at is price. Quality of goods, depth of knowledge by staff, and the overall aesthetic of the retail space is far better in the more traditional department stores.

When I was young my mom had a job at Eatons, one of Canada’s foremost department stores of its time. She worked in the fabric department, and while she’d work (no idea why we didn’t have a babysitter for me), I’d roam through the toy section, then pick up some scotch mints at the candy counter before settling on the floor of the book department with a Garfield classic. Department stores cater to everything.

The history of the department store stretches back to dry goods and general stores, which sold bits of everything to the community. You’ve got Tapis Rouge in Paris in the 1780s, Bennett’s in Derby, England back in the 1730s, and in this part of the world Arnold Constable is the department store that first set up shop on Pine Street in New York in 1825. But really we can go much further into history, back to the origins of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which started up 350 years ago, in 1670.

HBC wasn’t a department store at first – it was a company that capitalized on the fur trade in what would become Canada, and served as the governing body for the massive swath of land north of the 49th parallel. My entire city was once owned by the same place where we still shop for dress shirts, watch batteries and Christmas tree ornaments. We offer a hearty salute to the few true department stores that remain, and while we fell short of visiting one yesterday, we deeply endorse a trip to the Bay either in the flesh or online. If only to keep it afloat so that Walmart isn’t eventually our only retail option.

Boss’s Day / National Hug Your Boss Day

Well, we found a weird little source of controversy in the halls of Wikipedia with this one. From the opening paragraph of the article about this day: “It has been pitched as a day for employees to thank their bosses for being kind and fair throughout the year, but some have opposed the concept as nothing more than a meaningless Hallmark holiday, as well as placing unfair pressures on employees to kowtow to managers who earn more than they do, while exercising power over them.”

Well, ouch. Hot take from some Wikipedian who did not want to buy into the capitalist system and offer gratitude to his whip-holder. Let’s dig in a little deeper.

First of all, this was not created as a suck-up-to-your-boss day. It was created in 1958 by Patricia Bays as a suck-up-to-your-dad day. She worked as a secretary for her father with State Farm Insurance, and created this day on his birthday as a way to demonstrate how much more she values him than any of the other lowly employees who worked at that branch. And now we all have to suffer.

But do we suffer? Yes, Hallmark does make cards for this, so if you’re the type who feels the need to give a card to everyone for every special day, this could cost you $5-8. I can’t imagine who’s out there buying gifts for their boss though, but it probably happens. The Society for Human Resource Management, which I’ve never heard of but who seems to have a good handle on this thing, suggests that HR should do a thing for all bosses in the company, rather than putting the pressure on individual employees. Sure. Cool. That makes sense.

I did not buy my boss a gift, or even a card. I didn’t offer to hug him either, though it is Hug Your Boss Day as well. But I wished him a happy day. He has been my boss officially for two weeks now, having recently been promoted. Before that he was just a guy at work whom I respected, and who is more tuned in to the bullshit factor in government work than pretty much anyone else there. He’s a good guy to work for. So I said thank you. If any of my coworkers actually went out and bought him a gift… well, they didn’t. I’m sure they didn’t, because they aren’t as in tune with all these celebrations as I am. No one is. Happy day, bosses.

Oh, and I should point out that Jodie did offer her (acting) boss a virtual hug from across the room yesterday, so that one has also been duly celebrated.

National Learn A Word Day

After work on that nudiustertian evening I was surprised to see there was no NFL football game scheduled to be played.

Given that this project requires me to be fascinated by the minutiae of the calendar, this seemed like a perfect word to learn. Nudiustertian is simply a fun way to refer to the day before yesterday. This can also be referred to as ereyesterday if you’re looking for a specific designation. And it pairs well with overmorrow, which refers to the day after tomorrow.

I’ve never owned one of those page-a-day calendars with a new word to imbibe each morning, but I’d certainly welcome one for my desktop. I might even annoy my friends on social media by using each new word in a post every day next year. It would replace the way I annoy them this year, which is through these celebrations. Maybe I’m just cruel. But coming up with an effective way to use one word per day would be a lot less taxing on my time. I’m considering it.

Ask me again overmorrow.

National Liqueur Day

I get it – some people do not like liqueur. It’s usually super-sweet, and extremely insistent upon the tongue it happens to envelop. Indeed, peach schnapps is one of only two alcoholic beverages I’d rather never drink again due to having over-indulged one evening and paid for it with my stomach’s contents and a wicked headache. The other is the peach vodka I consumed on New Year’s Eve last year in preparation for National Hangover Day. On the surface it may seem that peach is the common thread here, but really it’s the hangover.

The rules in Canada and the US state that liqueurs must be blended with plant products to extract their goodness, must feature at least 2.5% sweetening agent, and be at least 23% alcohol. We have indulged in celebrating numerous liqueurs already this year, which made this one tremendously easy to partake in. With so many options crowding up our liquor shelf, I opted to sample some Grand Marnier, as that would expel the lone airplane-bottle on the shelf.

Amaretto is my top pick for liqueurs, and if the stuff weren’t alcohol-filled and supremely sugar-heavy I’d drink it every day. It’s a terrific flavour. Props also go to Sambuca, Kahlua, and of course the magnificence of Irish Cream. Liqueurs are wonderful, and as luck would have it they are an ideal sipping drink for winter. Which appears to be here, or at least is pulling into the driveway. Fuck.

The first frigid and unpleasant Saturday of the season will still offer all of these options for indulgence:

  • Sweetest Day. This is it? The actual sweetest day of the year? Sweet!
  • National Edge Day. No, frantic masturbators, this isn’t about you. This is for “straight-edge punk rockers”, so no booze or drugs today. Except that which is purely medicinal, of course.
  • National Mulligan Day. Tragically this is about the golf term, not Richard Mulligan, the hilarious actor. But we get a do-over. Of any celebration we’d like, I guess.
  • National Pasta Day. Pasta is always a treat.
  • Black Poetry Day. Let’s dig some powerful poetry once again.
  • National Pay Back A Friend Day. Do we owe anyone money? A favour? Perhaps pay them back with an act of vengeance?
  • Bridge Day. I think this is about the engineering structures, not the game, not the guitar component, and not the middle section of a song.
  • Forgive An Ex Day. I’ll get back to you on this one.
  • International Cassette Store Day. This makes about as much sense as International Spinning Jenny Retail Outlet Location Day. Yes, that’s a textile joke for you.
  • Four Prunes Day. Four? How about zero prunes? I’d celebrate not having to eat any prunes.
  • International Sloth Day. I’ll type this one out slowly.
  • National Fetch Day. I’m going with the literal meaning on this one, the game I can play with my dogs.
  • Spreadsheet Day. On a weekend? I think not.
  • National Playing Card Collection Day. Thankfully I don’t have such a collection handy.
  • Wear Something Gaudy Day. Do I own something gaudy, or has Jodie eradicated all those options from my closet? Tune in to find out!

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