Okay, so I realize that I said I was going to talk about impersonating Jesus on Easter Monday, but due to a collaboration project that I am currently working on with a Radio producer, I am going to have keep that story under wraps for a bit longer. As a compromise, I will share with you another story of impersonation. In this story, the subject in question was not Jesus, but the character Ace Ventura from the film Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. If you haven’t seen the film, watch these scenes to be brought up to speed on everything you need to know for the purposes of this article.
A few years ago I worked the opening shift at a daycare. The problem with this shift was that I worked alone, a task not inherently problematic, but troublesome when coupled with the expectation parents have that they will be able to leave their children at my daycare the moment it opens. This is reasonable, given that they are paying a substantial amount of money to the daycare for precisely that privilege, but it means that being late to work on the opening shift guaranteed a prompt firing. The idea of forcing parents to wait around and potentially call in sick to work to take care of their kids does not generate positive customer feedback.
Establishing that being late to work was simply not an option, I overcame a variety of struggles trying to arrive at 7:00 A.M. each and every morning. Nowadays I wake up at the crack of dawn all the time, but back then I was running on college time, meaning that my head didn’t touch the bed until 1:00 A.M at the earliest. One incident stands out above all the rest however; the day that I woke up at 6:40.
Stumbling out my house fully-clothed (amazingly) and somehow holding a travel mug of coffee that I stole from a family member in my mad dash; I rushed into my car. As the car started, I came to the startling realization that I couldn’t see! More specifically, I couldn’t see out of my car windows, as the cool September morning coated my car in a nice layer of frost. With time against me, I scrambled over to my windshield and clawed a small portcullis with what little nails a lifelong nail biter can muster. With my “safety hole” now in place, I dove into my car and flew away. To be fair, I just drove very fast, but with Winnipeg roads being what they are, I was gaining enough air off the makeshift ramps created by rupturing concrete that it gave the illusion of flight, particularly as I was blind to the majority of my surroundings.
As I pulled out of the twisting suburbs and onto the main thoroughfares that are Pembina and Bishop Grandin, I realized that without peripheral vision, a speedy death was an absolute certainty. With about three seconds at the yield sign to decide how to overcome my ice prison, a memory popped into my head. Many years ago, I saw a movie called Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, where the star, Ace Ventura, spends the majority of the film’s driving scenes hanging out his side window to compensate for vision impairing cracks covering his windshield. Unlike Ace Ventura, a man had not taken a baseball bat to my windshield, but the principal remained the same. Without pausing to think of what it would feel like to stick my head out at 80+ kilometres an hour on a cold September morning, I wrenched my windows down and shoved my head out. A blur of vehicles greeted my new found vision, but all the mattered was that I could see. Within moments, my face was numb from an assault of cold air, but my pedal foot remained firmly on the mat.
Thankfully, the cold air served to blow off my fatigue and reminded me of another crises; the petite timeframe in which I could drink my coffee. Another fun rule of a daycare is that hot liquids are not allowed, lest little Timmy decides to wear it. My counter-argument that Timmy would have a bigger threat than scalding liquid if he drank my coffee failed to sway my boss and I was now in a situation where I had the remainder of my short drive (given my speed) to finish off the beverage I relied on to get me through the workday. Wasting no time, I grabbed my travel mug and holding it at arm’s length in front of my face, turned the elongated canister horizontal. The stream of hot liquid that resulted quickly covered my face, thankfully ricocheting off of my appropriately coffee-tinted dark glasses and into my hair like a highly caffeinated hair gel. What coffee didn’t entangle itself in my hair quickly disappeared into my shirt and open mouth.
It was at this moment, my head immersed in coffee as I struggled to maintain my balance with my butt resting on the driver’s window; a bright pink staff necklace proclaiming “girls rule” flapping in the wind and adding to the absurdity of my form that I saw her. A young woman in her early twenties had pulled into the lane beside me and was awestruck (or so I like to think) at the spectacle that occupied the lane beside her. At this point my brain, struggling under the weight of coordinating driving in a compromised position while attempting to consume coffee and maintain concentration to the sound of blaring medieval bagpipes blaring from my car simply decided to shut down. The introduction of the new variable of appearing cool to a member of the opposite sex simply overloaded it and my mind went blank; my eyes returning to the road in front of me. After a few minutes of driving on autopilot, the woman and I pulled up to a red light. At this point I made my move, turning my head in a slow fashion reminiscent of the head-turning scene form the Exorcist, I faced the young woman again and plastered on the biggest smile my numb face could muster. Frozen coffee cracked and fell off my face in shards under the pressure of my skin folds; compounded by my car vibrations under the impact of an orchestra of bagpipes. The sight was perhaps not as awe inspiring as I imagined, as it was the woman’s turn to now fix her eyes on the road ahead of her, attempting to ignore the vehicular freak show beside her.
The remainder of the drive was blur, but I do recall making it to work with one minute to spare. Sprinting into the daycare, I felt the weight of accomplishment. When faced with a situation where failure is not allowed to be an option, we find new and creative ways to solve problems. In many cases, the solutions are not nearly as outlandish, but without accepting seemingly impossible challenges, we will never discover just how much we can achieve. The parents that followed me into the daycare that morning greeted the young man seemingly sweating coffee and looking like he came out of a swimming pool with nervous and disapproving laughter. One co-worker however, later asked how I could possibly make the drive in the time I did. Being an aspiring veterinarian, I knew that when I asked her if she had seen Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, her answer would be yes. When I told her that I emulated his driving, I was met with laughter approval. Her laughter at the story and the fact that I kept my job somehow made the whole experience worth it.