Last call at Maple Leaf Gardens
Another case of going outside the scope of your practice
I landed in Toronto with the Medic. He had a two rooms. One had his bed, the other a couch. I lived on the couch. He had a hotplate and a bar fridge. There was a washroom down the hall.
The shower featured fantastic feats of feces art. To this day, I simply cannot come up with a reason that a turd could and would leave a swooping track on a wall inches from the ceiling.
Improbable poo aside, I do believe this to be the best image to set the tone of my early days in the big stink. I lied my way into a table waiting job. It turns out that the manager - Jordan (JORDO!) - knew that I lied my way in. He told me so during the interview. He didn’t care. He just needed someone carry beer and clean ashtrays. This should have raised some alarm bells about the nature of the place, but growing up, jobs were few and hard to come by. I was grateful for the opportunity.
It turns out that the place had a difficult time retaining staff.
It was a sports bar with off track betting. SPORTZMAX! was, exactly as it appears on the page - loud, garish and hopelessly out of date. The gambling aspect attracted addicts from all walks of life.
Finding staff who would work primarily for tips was difficult. Most of the patrons entered hoping to leave with more money than they arrived with. Whatddya expect - a two dollar tip when that could be the difference between a trifecta in the tenth race or going home empty handed.
Suffice to say, the place was struggling. The ‘managers’ didn’t have a clue. Of the four, three were former professional football players - linemen. They were there for their abilities to deal with ‘issues’ and likely also their connection to the local constabulary. They were good dudes. Good dudes with a few too many smacks to the noggin, but were essentially pretty good to me.
In fact they wanted to be supportive. They were located right downtown in the financial district. The Maple Leafs were moving from the historic Maple Leave Gardens - the area where they won all thirteen of their Stanley Cups. The building was legendary in Toronto.
It was also, like many legends, old and falling apart. It’s replacement, ‘The ACC’ was ready and waiting. The legend, had one final game to host. It was on a Saturday night - Hockey Night in Canada. The Toronto Maple Leafs were hosting the Montreal Canadians at Maple Leaf Gardens one final time.
Huge festivities were planned for the occasion. But before we get there, let’s go back to SPORTZMAX! - They were located just down the road and around the corner from the new arena. JORDO! insisted that they were the closest sports bar to the new rink.
JORDO! had an idea.
It was a JORDO! idea, but an idea non the less.
You’re a clown right bud?
I knew what was coming next. He’s going to ask me to make balloon animals horses or something for the ‘regulars’.
Sooo… Here’s what I think. I think that I hire you to go get a dozen of your clown friends to go hand out coupons for free wings at our place on the last night at the Gardens. It’ll have a map and tell’em that we’re the closest sports bar to the rink.
I dunno Jordo.
Fifteen hundred dollars for you to do it. Divvy it out as you want. But I’ll give you fifteen hundred dollars.
JORDO! I’ll do it!
I left work that day with a spring in my step and a plan in my head.
A bunch of clowns, flush with cash at a historic sporting event, how could this possibly go sideways?
Tune in tomorrow, when you hear the Medic say:
Frenchie? This is the Medic. We need to discuss a more substantial purchase than usual.