Saturday, September 04, 2004

Just back from Bala where Alex was playing in a Battle of the Bands at The Kee. And what an ordeal!

We'd reserved a rental car and I was picking it up after work at Fairview Mall, just a quick bus ride away from my work.

"Sorry, your license has expired."

Ya, on my birthday, my license expired. Oops.
Since Alex has neither license nor credit card, he couldn't rent either.

All his friends/bandmates had already left for Bala. I tried calling a couple of friends to see if there cars were for rent for the evening. No such luck.

So we had to get to a Ministry of Transportation Office QUICK. Hm. Government office open past 5:30pm on a Friday? And how to find out which might be open? Well, we needed internet access. Think we could find internet access in a mall in metro Toronto? It wasn't looking good. Finally, we begged a guy at a video games store who chucked a kid off a game of Doom, or something similarly important, who promptly snarked, "You just lost a customer, dude."

Whatever. Like he was ever going to do anything but play that game at the store every day after school.

Found the MTO office online. Can't renew your license online. Dammit. But the only office open past 6pm on a Friday is in Mississauga. Well, now you know.

So, off to find a cab. Think we can find a cab outside the mall? Not a chance.

Off to Sheppard, the major road nearby. No cabs. To the gas station to find a phone book/phone booth in which to call a cab. A taxi happens to be filling up and while Alex finds rental car agency numbers in the book, I grab the cabby and instruct him on where I need to go.

We're off.

About 45 minutres later (7pm), we arrive at the MTO office at Square One, Mississauga. And it's humungous line. So many people. At least an hour long.

Matt calls. I explain the situation and ask to use his car. But he's got appointments to see houses the next day. Fine, we can give him the rental vehicle that we organized on the taxi ride over. And then, like the hero he is, he's on the way over to meet us, while I continue to wait and try to get into the office before it closes.

Alex asks how long it takes to get to Mississauga from Guelph.
"An hour," I say.
Alex looks stunned. "I might not make it," he says.

Alex takes off to go get our backpacks out of the waiting taxi and pay the nice driver. He also makes some calls to the organizers of the band competition, telling them our sob story, and begging them to put his band on last. They say, "We'll see what we can do."

I continue to wait in line and finally, finally make it to the front where it takes me approximately 2 minutes to renew my licence.

Time Check: 7:55pm
We organize our stuff for Matt. There won't be time for us to drive him to the rental agency. When Matt arrives, I give him $40 for the cab, the rental reservation number and directions to the location. We show him where to get a cab and he shows me to his car. I'm so panicked, I sit in the driver's seat, looking around, confused.

"Cath," Matt says calmly, a smile on his face. "It's a manual transmission. Remember when you taught me how to drive manual?"

Um, yes. Of course. But I still manage to rev the engine before taking off out of the mall parking lot. Matt must've been worried.

Alex navigated and I drove a moderate high speed the whole way (getting a speeding ticket is the LAST thing I need), only almost killing us once. On the way, we get a call from Tanya, telling us that, had she been home she would've let us use her car. What a gem!

We're racing north up the highway when we get a call telling us that The Free Press is on last. Sighs all around. We will make it. We even have time to check into our hotel in Gravenhurst and stop at McDonald's for dinner, even though I have brought snacks.

I remember I was so proud of myself for remembering to bring healthy snacks for the leisurely albeit traffic-jammed drive north. It seems so long ago.

We arrive finally at the venue sometime after 11pm. We were supposed to be there around 7pm. I pay the $5 cover and enter, Alex taking the back door reserved for the "talent". I see the band and tell them that I left Alex behind; I figure I'm the important one here. I'm going to be there new drummer. No one seems really excited by this prospect.

We listen to the bands and finally they go on and do a rockin' show.
We hold our breath for the results.

And, while it would make for a really great story to say that they won, I can only sadly report that they didn't make the top three. They did, however, put on a great show, and some other talented bands won the cash and bragging rights.

Alex and I won the award for adventure. What a team.

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