Sunday morning in Ottawa. The workshop had finished the evening before. I’d recovered from flight outrage and pigeon dawn. My replacement room had been palatial with stunning views of demonstrations around City Hall.
Now I could check out and wander round Ottawa for the day before getting the bus to the airport for the evening flight home.
Just needed to get some cash as I was down to a few coins and then a day of pure pleasure, peace and relaxation.
11am. Mmm. The first cashpoint spat my card back out. I found another one. Splewt. Eh?? Eeeek… What if the third machine kept the card??? The girl behind me noticed my comedy gurns and asked if she could help. She directed me to a corner shop, about ten minutes away. It had a machine that didn’t take the card, just read the chip bit. I speeded along there, slotted the card in but again, NO. NO CASH.
I went into a shop and asked if they would pretend I was buying something and then cancel the sale, to see if my card worked. It worked. I started to tell the shop worker about my dilemma but she wasn’t interested.
“How about cashback in a grocery store?” said a helpful shopper. Great idea but a very long walk. I got there around lunchtime and bought several large bottles of maple syrup to take home. But no cash.
“I’m so sorry,” said the cashier. “It’s the British pin. The Canadian banking system doesn’t like it so you have to get cash out of the bank.” “Oh blimey. I really need to get some cash.” “Well there might be a branch open on the top floor of Sears”, she said helpfully. “It’s about a forty minute walk from here”.
1.40pm. Sweaty and weary, I got to Sears. The bank teller looked at my card and said “No cash on a Sunday, lady. Only when the banks are open”. “Oh,” I said. “Isn’t this a bank?” “Nah, we’re Sunday service”, she replied.
I left Sears and wandered aimlessly. Could I barter maple syrup with the bus driver? Should I buy something in a shop and then sell it outside? I noticed a pawn type shop. Gotta be worth a go. I got in the queue and felt like a pondscum, low-life, phone hacking, baby eater trying to shake a few dollars free from my cheque card to get to the airport, while people were signing for 100 dollars at 2,5000% interest. They told me to fuck off anyway.
Mid afternoon. I walked back to Byward Market, out of ideas. Then I saw a guy from the workshop. “Hey!”, I shouted. “Hey!”, he shouted back. “How you doing?” “Funny you should ask,” I gabbled, “But I’m a bit stuck. I can’t get any cash for the bus to the airport.” “Oh, the cabs all take cards”, he replied, “Safe journey”.
I stood there as he walked off. Holding the maple syrup I’d donate to customs a few hours later because the bottles were too big to carry on the plane.