The Professor

I started at Harvey’s as a part-time employee when I was fourteen years old. I quit Harvey’s as a full-time assistant manager when I was twenty one years old. Some highlights include:

  • I had an offer to run a store of my own in Nova Scotia but I took too long to make up my mind
  • I would do a full inventory every Sunday night from 10PM until 12AM and sometimes I would invite my friends and we would eat burgers, drink pop. and have high chair races through the tables
  • The best part of my week was coming to work early on Saturday and Sunday mornings to work the breakfast shift with some of the greatest people I have ever had the pleasure of working with
  • The last manager I worked with made me proud of what I did for a living

But one person stands out in my mind and I will call him The Professor. Truth is, I don’t think we ever shared names. I only remember him as The Professor and that he worked with Northrop Frye.

I liked to think that he came in every weekend as much to talk to me as to enjoy breakfast. I remember trying not to crowd him and seem weird but often I couldn’t help myself. At around the same time I played with the idea of applying to U of T for a degree in English Literature and seeing as how he was a Professor at U of T, he might be able to help – or at least offer encouragement.

“Why not go to Vancouver?” he asked. I didn’t know of any special English Lit program in Vancouver, but I was open to possibilities.

“Because you know what I noticed out there? Lots of Volkswagon Beetles. Seems like they were everywhere.”

I didn’t see where he was going with that.

“Well, I see lots of those cars but not enough mechanics. A mechanic specializing in Vee-Double-Ewe Bugs would make a killing out there.”

I didn’t see where he made the connection between me and a VW Bug.

“You’re a mechanic, aren’t you? You’re always talking about fixing cars.”

I always talked about fixing cars because mine was always breaking down and I had to fix it on my own. I can fix things if I have to but it usually takes me three times longer than anyone else because I end up learning along the way.

But I wanted to be a writer. And this English Professor thought I was a mechanic. That’s not his fault. Turns out I wasn’t spending as much time writing as I thought I was.

That lesson always comes back to me when I think about doing what I love. I like cars and admire well made ones. I respect mechanics and all they have to go through every day to keep people on the road and understand why some of them only keep theirs on the road with spit and bailing wire – who wants to work on a car when you get home when you just spent ten hours working on someone else’s?

I want to be a writer. So I should really spend my time writing. And I can only hold myself responsible to that. Thanks Professor, you taught me sumthing reel gud.

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