I got off the bus at Olde and Savidville armed with a latte in my left hand and my iPhone 7 in my right. The inch of slush on the ground soaked right through my grey knit Uggs almost immediately. Ugh. I wasn’t about to let the Canadian February weather ruin my mood. I was on a mission; I was hunting for hiring signs in storefronts around Leafton for a cool new app. Each picture I uploaded to the app would earn me points toward money on an Amazon gift card. I’d dedicated my entire day to finding signs all around Olde and Ellington.
The wind blew my hair beneath my thick blue toque. I squelched my way across the street, wiggling my cold wet toes. This day would all be worth it, I reminded myself. This day was going to be fun. I wasn’t going to be discouraged by the fact that the first block of stores lacked any hiring signs. I had plenty more ground to cover. I would be fine.
At the next corner, I found my first sign. It was right where my ex-co-worker Amanda and I had sat in my car several mornings in a row. This was the corner where we waited patiently to turn onto the ever busy Olde Street to complete the last hump of our hour and a half commute to work from the suburbs. This was the corner where we’d befriended the newspaper guy that stood at the subway doors handing out free issues of the Metro newspaper. Every morning for weeks, Amanda would wave him over to the window and he’d hand us a paper too. It was the best part of the commute. That was almost two years ago now. Before I moved downtown. Before she got married.
As I trudged south, I noticed a large group of people waiting for a Chinese buffet to open up. I snuck by them and let myself into the complex. The building that housed the buffet always reminded me of my best friend Chloe. Not only because we had met for dinner there last Chinese New Year, but also because on the floor above the restaurant was a small movie theatre where we’d watched The Runaways. This was when we were much younger and first starting to explore the city. We’d had such a hard time even finding this building. Only one of the stores inside was hiring.
When I returned outside, I was greeted with hail. I tried to keep my balance as I slid across the icy road to Ellington. The corner of Olde and Ellington looked different but somehow still felt the same. The entire intersection was under construction, with massive holes in the centre, to make room for a light rail transit system. The city had been working on it for ten years. I decided to head west on Ellington first. This was the newer side of the street, which seemed more promising for new businesses to be hiring.
A few blocks down the road, my suspicions were confirmed. I found a few restaurants were hiring in this area. They were right near the new board game cafe Chloe and I had visited with her fiance, Amy, just a few weeks prior. That whole day had been a random assortment of fun things to do in and around Leafton, and we’d somehow ended up here. That day had actually been the coldest day of the winter so far. It was much drier and colder, and I was grateful I could still walk around without completely convulsing. I quickly snapped a few more hiring signs in this area.
I turned north onto Mount Dulcet, where I noticed the tips of my hair had turned to tiny little icicles. They looked kind of cool. I walked by the brewery my work had their Christmas party at the previous year, and where Chloe, Amy and I had ended our impromptu day. Several businesses were hiring around here.
A few doors down was a pizza place my boyfriend Ant absolutely adored. One Saturday afternoon, we were lounging on the couch watching one of those cooking shows where the hosts try foods at various restaurants. In the episode, they were eating at an authentic Italian pizzeria. Before we knew it, we were sitting at this pizzeria. We are both so easily influenced by what other people are eating. It was the most spontaneous thing we’ve ever done. We’re not that exciting. Tiny droplets of snow decorated my phone’s screen as I located another sign.
I looped around the street, and then headed back east on Ellington. I walked past the bar my co-worker’s brother managed, which was next to the all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse my exboyfriend Paul and I had once waited three hours to get into. Just a few doors down from the restaurant was the fad ice cream joint Paul had recently posted a picture of on Instagram. He went with his new girlfriend. I peaked in, on the off chance they had decided to come back. They weren’t there. The place was swarming with little kids and the sign on the door revealed that it was a child named Jack’s private birthday party. I couldn’t imagine eating ice cream indoors today, not even indoors.
Next, I turned south onto Olde Street. The hiring signs were so plentiful now, I could barely keep my right glove on. I feared my fingers might fall off but luckily they just went numb instead. Everyone around here was hiring. The shoe stores. The comedy club I’d gone to with my best friend Cynthia and some co-workers, on the day she’d bought her house. The restaurant that had inspired a plan with my other ex-boyfriend, Felix, to eat at all of the Italian restaurants in the area.
That dream had died with our relationship, but fortuitously, not before we discovered Pasco about a block south. That was by far my favourite restaurant in the area. Even after we broke up, for several years, I maintained the tradition to go to Pasco on my birthday. I’d gone with my family, with Paul, with my friend Stewie Goode and with Ant. Amy had her own birthday there one year, too. The winter of the ice storm, my friends and I had had Christmas dinner there, and the next year, my school also hosted their Christmas party at Pasco.
I kept trudging down the mostly deserted street. That’s when it occurred to me that I was actually having the time of my life. This area was usually swarmed with people, so I was grateful the weather allowed me to have a piece of it to myself. As I neared it, I noticed the fruit stand where Paul had bought me flowers on my birthday one year was closed. Or had it been Felix? I didn’t even matter. They weren’t hiring.
On my way back up the other side of the road I spotted the parking lot beside the sporting store where I had once advised Chloe to park for free, but she’d gotten a ticket. I still felt bad about that. I should have known. Paul had gotten a ticket in the exact same spot for leaving his rear wheel half a millimetre on the sidewalk. Across the street, Paul had gotten another ticket when we’d returned to the car 15 minutes after the 1am cut off for free road parking. I nearly laughed out loud at how relentless we were about not paying for parking in Leafton, and how many times we’d failed and ended up paying more in parking tickets. The happy memory turned sad unexpectedly when I realized we were never going to be able to laugh about that again. A harsh wind sucked the air right out of my chest. Luckily, another band of hiring signs appeared just then.
Finally, I arrived at my final destination; the small mall on the south east corner of Olde and Ellington. I entered though the Urban Outfitters where I’d bought the dress I wore for my 24th birthday party. I wandered through the mall collecting the final few signs, the last outside the movie theatre where Ant and I had watched La La Land last year. I remembered how overjoyed we were to find out that we could get to Olde and Ellington with just a 10 minute bus ride at a stop right outside of our building. It was so convenient. But we’d never gone back.
I sat at that stop not more than 5 minutes later. My adrenaline was pumping. I’d had a very successful day. In three short hours, I’d earned 30 dollars, walked 17 thousand steps and recounted an innumerable amount of memories.
My hiring sign hunt had turned into a leisurely stroll down memory lane, which just so happens to be my favourite road of all.