16 Aug

the inestimable Ms Jo Ann Gagnon, the owner of City in A Box, and our life-support system for the last few days.  A lot of you will have heard me talk about her.  She basically does everything possible to help us to relocate as painlessly as possible.  She also kept me going with her sense of humour, endless energy and boundless optimism.  She’s kind of like Prozac and Valium rolled into one.  Prozium? Valzac?  I need to work on that, and then patent it.  We Skyped a lot when I was still in Ireland, but the relief of walking out into the Arrivals Hall in the airport and seeing her standing there was immeasurable.  It was great to just hand over to her and know that she knows everything about everything Saskatonian…..

She whisked us off to Smiley’s Buffet, drove us home, marched the kids across the park, left us for the evening and arrived the next morning at 10.30am.  Our mission was to buy beds and brave Walmart for all the householdy bits and pieces.  So, to the bed shops first, where the difference between Irish sizing and Canadian sizing became apparent very quickly.  We eventually managed to establish that I wanted a Queen bed, which is 5ft wide.  This had become a matter of urgency since the night before, when Michael and I found ourselves in a double bed, in stifling heat, with no room to turn over without the other one having to turn at the same time.  Sort of synchronised swimming, except less graceful and with less water. And much grumpier….

I was much more knowledgeable at the second bed store, and the sale was more or less agreed, pending Michael coming along to jump on both mattresses to see which one he preferred.  Gord, another City in a Box employee, was our chauffeur for the day.  He’s a man in his sixties, great sense of humour, really dry wit, and Rebecca was smitten at first sight ….but more of that later….

We had lunch in another all-you-can-eat buffet, this time an Indian one.  Gorgeous.  Off to Walmart then.

It’s huge.  Really really huge.  Gord manned the trolley and Jo Ann whisked me from aisle to aisle, gathering bins, mops, brushes, clothes hangers etc. etc. etc…..The only rocky moment came when I picked a red mop and then a blue dustpan and brush.  Jo Ann agonised over the clash of colours.  I even sneaked back to the mop aisle to see if I could get a blue one, but it was a hopeless mission.  I hope she didn’t lose any sleep over it that night.

Back to the house then, to collect Michael and head back to the bed shop.  Jo Ann decided to take all of the children except for Rebecca off to buy Slushies.   The Canadian version of Slush Puppies.  Lots of lurid colours and e-numbers.  Loved by children all over the world.

Jo Ann literally crackles with energy.  Nothing is negative, impossible or undo-able.  She reaches for the stars at every minute of every day, and is always confident that they are within her reach.  It’s kind of contagious.  When I’m with her, she makes me feel that Saskatoon is my oyster, and that I can do whatever I choose here in order to enhance my life and the lives of my family.

And, of course, she is funny.  So, so funny.  A couple of her stories have tested the strength of my pelvic floor muscles, and I will be passing them on to you all later.  She talks to EVERYONE that she meets.  I spent a couple of days with her, and her interrogative techniques are astounding.  At checkouts, restaurants, shops, offices – she asks questions, tells stories, gives information, all in such an engaging and disingenuous way that people just automatically respond to her.

I don’t know if we could have moved without her, to be honest.  She made it a very smooth path for us to follow, and took so much of the hassle away.

Well, until we got to Monday, and my turn to do all the bank accounts, driving licence stuff etc.  I think I must have been her worst client ever.  More anon….

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