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Creepiest Canadian Tire ever

Canadian Tire on Cambie Street is where I would hang out if I actually did drugs. It is the most psychedelic place I’ve ever been, save the Winnie the Pooh ride and its’ “nightmare” sequence in Disneyland.

I climb the long ramp up to the parking on the top floor to find about five spaces all taken up by mini vans. There is a tiny space that a “Sienna” has occupied a quarter of…but I have a mini Cooper and decide to squeeze in beside Sienna’s wideness. I won’t be long. When I get out of my coop’, I realize the side detailing of the Sienna has already been completely scraped off by a former hit and run.

“Let’s hurry, Nora”.IMG_1927

We are greeted at the door by a pine topiary in the shape of a cactus. Terrifying. Is that for Canadians who wish they were in Mexico for Christmas instead? Maybe it isn’t a cactus. Maybe it’s Gumby with his eyes gauged out crying in agony. Maybe it’s a joker of a penis with its hands up, “Okay, guys, you got me, you got me, I’m not a Christmas tree, but hey, I’m great at Cranium! Somebody pass the poppycock! Thank you, thank you, I’m here all night!” On the other side of the door is a palm tree Christmas tree. But it’s half yellow already and it’s only November 18th. “Oh yes! I want that one for two hundred dollars! Feliz Navidad! Good thing I brought my Mini van…!”

When I walk past the monstrous topiaries and through the front door I realize I am at the ass end of the self serve check outs. A woman who looks a lot like Oprah is trying to scan a family’s worth of down hill skis. It is not going well for her. She is getting uppity and swinging those skis around like a Samurai, cursing under her breath. “God damn it – God damn -” beep beep! Goes the scanner, beep beep! As though editing her cursing. A fellow in a shady baseball cap is at the other till with a line of people behind him. He’s scanning far too many things far too quickly, sort of paying for every sixth one I figure. There is one staff member in a smart little square red apron who is red in the face and shouting out directives to both of them while sitting at her station. I am terrified – TERRIFIED to ask, “Where do I return my life jacket?” She spins her head towards me on this side of Chucky and literally shouts, “CUSTOMER SERVICE”! And points downward, down down, down towards Hades.

This is when I notice a water feature with an Inukshuk behind the self serve and an odd little tribute to the Inuit people. What the hell is this doing in a hardware store?

Behind this lush green nod to the people of the North is a line of fake Christmas trees the length of a football field: green, blue, red, white, light green, purple…aisles and aisles and aisles of baubles and lights and tinsel and beads. Enough to make a landfill of Mars. Then leering above me, way way up in the rafters is an inflatable RCMP snowman with a pelvic thrust. IMG_1925Um…when did we decide that our Royal Canadian mounted police made acceptable holiday blow up dolls? He has a huge moustache, a sleeping bag, and a light right under his fly. “Look kids, it’s creepy policeman! If he asks you if you want a candy cane, just say “no” and run!”

 

On our way down the massive escalator I suddenly hear rainforest birds, frogs and…whales? Along the window is a display of Canucks wear, Christmas blue and white miniskirts in velvet and…a tribute to the Haida nation, complete with totem poles. What?! It’s like the plastic lawn ornament version of the YVR. At least the airport misappropriates culture with style.

When we get to the bottom of the escalators I see the gun display. How appropriate. After getting through self serve I do sort of feel like shooting myself in the head. I didn’t even know you could buy a gun at Canadian tire. In fact, I have yet to see a tire.IMG_1923

I walk past the area where we first tried to buy a life jacket. They were all size “small” or “extra large” in the adult’s section. In the children’s section they started with the babies on the bottom shelf and then were stacked one above the other straight up the side of the wall about thirty feet high. There was a black pole beside the jackets and no staff to be seen for days. One had to engage in a kind of retail javelin – trying to knock down a jacket by jabbing it with a flung pole, then reading the size when it fell on someone’s head. After all the fuss we paid far too much for something that would not likely save Nora’s life and so I am now taking it back.

When I get to the Customer service counter it takes a while to be served. The two women behind the counter are as red faced as the lady upstairs. As I am thinking to myself “I bet they get terrible pay and they’ve had a long day”, the one barks to me in suspect English something about having a long day and if I wanted any service I would have to shove a returned bicycle, lamp and tennis racket to the left and step closer to the till.

“Everyone is in a bad mood here, Mommy”

“SHH!”

I finally get my customer service. There is no question why I am returning this item. It is assumed that it totally sucks. I am however asked to provide two pieces of ID, the name of my paternal uncles, my blood type, weight, original hair colour and my political sympathies. She asks me to sign so many papers I expect her to offer cash back and a free surgery as part of the transaction. Finally, we are done. We walk down Canuck’s Lane, complete with an odd sort of Dickensian lamp post illuminating headless busts of v-neck female Hockey shirts.

“What is a Canadian Tire, Mom?”

“It’s an 8-months-out-of-the-year winter tire.”

Nora doesn’t get my joke. And not just because it is convoluted. She says,

“I need ginger beef, Mom. And when I say I need ginger beef, I mean I NEED ginger beef.”

“Yeah, I’m hungry too.”

As we head up the creepy escalators past the plastic Haida Gwaii I am a little sad. What happened to the Canadian tire of my youth? My Uncle Kibby would call himself a “Handy kind of guy” and help my Mom fix things around the house after a trip to the hardware store. My Dad would buy me a Schwinn bicycle with tassels for my tenth birthday. It was the place where you could actually get something for your Mom on Christmas that she might like and use. “Give like Santa, save like Scrooge.”

This store turns everything that is beautiful about my country into a crass joke. It’s a Walmart wannabe. I’m done. Canadian tire. I am done. I am not darkening your topiary flanked door again.

And as for Christmas, everything sacred about it hangs on a real tree. If you ask me.

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