Ms. Marvel: A Review (Spoilers)

During my youth and even now, I’ve been an avid reader of comic books. Often seen as a touch childish by many, it’s a guilty pleasure that allows a person to escape into the wonder of possibility and answer the question of “what if,” as it relates to superhuman and their powers. I was always partial to the Infinity Gauntlet storyline, which unlike the watered-down MCU film adaption called Infinity War (Which was the second Infinity Gauntlet book, BTW) was a rich storyline loaded with hundreds upon hundreds of characters and sub-plots.

The MCU has done a fantastic job of bringing the comic books to life, starting with 2008’s Iron Man. Although there have been a number of movies and shows based on Marvel Comics in the decades before (Hulk and Spider-man being two of my favourites), the MCU brought comic book heroes into the modern age and rejuvenated the industry. Now that the primary storyline has reached its zenith, the MCU has released a batch of series on streaming services; some good, some bad. One of those is a rather short series based on Ms. Marvel. Let’s discuss…

Contrary to what most non-comic book readers would think, there have been several iterations of Ms. Marvel in the comic books, started all the way back in the late 1970’s. The first to bear the name was actually Carol Danvers, or who MCU followers know as Captain Marvel, from the 2019 MCU film. The current Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, is the fourth to take up the name and is the subject of today’s post. Released on Disney+ just this past summer, Ms. Marvel is a short-lived series with only six episodes in its first season.

Although entertaining, the concept of how Kamala gets her powers is a bit convoluted and muddies the flow of the story a bit. She inherits a Bangalore from her grandmother that was left for her by her great-grandmother. After putting it one, it begins to emit a glow and Kamala is exposed to an unknown energy that appears to give her superpowers. These powers fully surface during an incident at a comic-con where Kamala went dressed as Captain Marvel and saves a fellow peer’s life.

From there, the story goes on to see Kamala and her family returns o their home country, examine her origins and discover that she is actually a descendent of the djinn (yes, THOSE ones), which is why the bangal only works for her. Some time travel and family history gets mixed in, there, before Kamala returns to the US where she fights her enemies and tries to save a fellow peer with similar powers from being captured by the government. The season ends after only six episodes with Kamala running off into the night, powers aglow.

The build-up was significantly slow and I feel that there would be plenty of room for character growth, perhaps some deeper delve into how her energy powers actually work. On the one hand, it was a campy, entertaining few episodes that gave me something to watch while I do dishes at night. On the other hand, the story was too short, with only six episodes and no clear indication whether the show will continue or be cancelled.

To have it cancelled would be a shame, considering the character potential and further storylines that could be explored. And I’m a little disappointed at only six episodes. I mean, seriously, they could have maybe had Kamala square off against two enemies in season one, instead of just the one. This could have stretched it out to an even dozen episodes. But what do I know? I’m just a grizzled old comic book reader. Watch Ms. Marvel at your leisure. Although short and sweet, it has the potential to be entertaining. ☯️

The Little Engine That Couldn’t…

Have you ever noticed how finding the motivation to do something is usually difficult, if not all-out impossible? Why do you believe that is? If it’s something one WANTS to do, it would stand to reason that motivation should almost be self-fulfilling, right? But it never is. And there’s a genuine reason for that, that most of us don’t think about. You see, most people go through life assuming that motivation comes first. You’ll often hear one saying, “I need to get motivated to do this…” But that isn’t the way motivation works.

Loosely defined, because I LOVE to loosely define things, motivation means the general desire or willingness to do something. An easy example would be to say that I am motivated to learn karate or motivated to lose some weight and get in better shape. However, contrary to what the average person believes, motivation will almost assuredly never come first. Motivation comes as a result of success, and one can’t have success unless they make a start. Only then will one be motivated by their goals and achievements.

If I use myself as an example, I started karate at a tender young age at what feels like an eternity ago. When I first walked into the dojo, I wasn’t motivated. I wanted to be there, don’t get me wrong. I had goals and ambitions to achieve by starting in it, but I couldn’t rightly say I was motivated by karate. As I started to train and began to see some change brought on by my efforts and started achieving goals, I became motivated to continue, motivated to train harder, motivated to pop my clutch and study like a man possessed, which came about as a result of my success in learning some of the art and becoming proficient.

Had I not experienced that success, I likely would not have been motivated to continue with my training, which is what frequently happens to many people who join. I use this an my example because it’s an easy one, and one that I’ve experienced myself. But this concept applies to just about anything one does in life. Let’s say you decide to want to cycle 55 kilometres in the coming summer. You won’t be “motivated” to reach 500 kilometres; you’ll set the goal for yourself and become motivated to reach your goal once you’ve started to gain mileage and start seeing how your cardio and overall health is starting to increase.

It’s important to think of motivation a bit like momentum. If you try to run, you can’t leave your starting point at full speed. You need to get yourself moving and build up your speed through your own strength. The product of the runner’s mass and speed is what is considered momentum. Much like momentum, motivation can’t be achieved from a starting point; it needs to be fed and grown, and will only be experienced once you’ve reached a certain momentum in your goals and achievements.

Hopefully that makes sense and I haven’t muddied the waters. Too often, I’ve spoken to people who have said, “I’m just not motivated to do it, anymore…” Of course, you’re not! Because you haven’t achieved any of your goals or seen any progress. You won’t be motivated until you do. So if you feel yourself “unmotivated” in any particular thing you’ve undertaken, don’t believe that this is a reason why you should be determined to stop or walk away. A shout out to my friend, Ricky, for the idea to write about this! ☯️

Walking Off Into The Sunset…

When people think of quitting something, they usually associate it with giving up. On the extremes side, people associate quitting with cowardice or abandoning something they should keep hammering at. That’s why we always see little quips like “winners never quitting” and such. And while I can agree that one should never quit something if it will compromise one’s goals, there are circumstances under which walking away from something is not only acceptable, but ideal.

When one decides to undertake something important in their life, it can become all-consuming. For example, if you decide to work on your fitness and get into shape, there’s a lot of perseverance and sacrifice that needs to happen. Quitting will prevent you from reaching your goals and it’s important to work through the obstacles and difficult aspects of that particular goal if you expect to achieve it. This can be the same with work goals, dietary goals and any achievement-based art, such as karate.

When I joined karate in the late 1980’s (Yes, I’m old as time. Moving on!) I did so with the intention and motivation to save my own life. Type-1 Diabetes was consuming me and I had complications that put me in very real danger of losing my life. My goal in joining the martial arts was two-fold: increase my overall health and learn to defend myself. I can admit that over the past 34 years, I have not only accomplished those goals but I’ve exceeded them in ways that I never would have expected.

What’s important with something like karate is that you CAN’T quit if you expect to progress and learn the art. But you should only be doing the art if it lights a fire inside you and you’re passionate about it. If that fire goes out and the passion dwindles, it becomes tedious and almost onerous to try and continue, and it can lead to being more of a hindrance to the overall art than contributing to it. It is at that point where one needs to take a serious look at oneself and consider that walking away may be the viable solution.

At some point in life, and I’m specifically referring to myself, one reaches an age and state of physical being that also no longer accommodates the stresses and rigours on the body required to actively participate in the martial arts. Granted, I never assumed I would reach that point in my 40’s but Diabetes is a hell of an inhibitor. Recent injuries and health matters have brought me full circle to where I understand that maybe fighting people half my age in the dojo is no longer a goal of mine. I’m still passionate about the martial arts but I fear the fire inside may have gone out.

At some point, this happens to all martial artists. Even Sensei, decades ago, had a point where he simply stopped coming to class. The dojo was managed by a couple of the senior belts in his absence. It was a scary time, since none of us knew if he’d come back. Eventually, he found his perspective and renewed sense of purpose and came back. In my early 20’s, I gave up and quit karate for several months as a result of my body no longer keeping up with the same speed as I had in my teens. I went back, of course. But if that was in my 20’s, can you imagine what my body feels like now?

I guess the point is that nothing in this life is ever truly over until one chooses it to be so. I may be walking away right now, but I will never truly QUIT karate. I can’t. I’ve been doing it for so long, it’s in my blood and part of my DNA. This is proven by watching how my 3-year old throws a punch without ever having been taught. So, who knows? Maybe after a period of reflection and contemplation, I will see fit to return to the dojo and train with others. I’ve been walking this journey alone for so long now that maybe the dojo is no longer a suitable environment for me to train. Time will tell.

A person’s reasons are their own. If you feel the need to quit something, whether it’s that job you hate or a sport or hobby you no longer wish to participate in, be true to what you need for yourself. My karate training will continue. The arena in which I participate will simply be different. I’m not fading away, I’m simply walking away; potentially to start a new chapter. ☯️

Let’s “Tip” The Scales, Shall We?

People’s money is usually quite important to them, and for good reason. For most of us, money is something we spend at LEAST 40 hours a week trying to earn and in most cases, much longer. So it stands to reason that the majority of people don’t enjoy losing some of their hard-earned cash for reasons they are forced to. This would be why everyone and their dog complains about paying bills and taxes. But there’s one form of monetary loss that is often written about in media that gets my core temp up: tipping.

Tipping is a controversial subject in most circles, with many people against it, some are for it and some believe it’s subjective to the service they receive. I fall in the latter category, which is why this blog post is categorized only as an “opinion.” My thoughts on this topic may not be popular but in the interest of free speech, I’ll share them anyway. Buckle up and feel free to scroll past, if this is not something you want to read about. I promise we’ll be back to the status quo tomorrow.

So what is tipping? Simply put, a tip or “gratuity” is the act of providing a small amount of money to someone who has provided you with a product or service. This is usually above and beyond whatever the total cost is for the product or service. Tipping is nothing new. In fact, an article I read well over a decade ago once said that tipping originates from England in the 1700’s, where customers could drop coins in a box that was labeled “To Insure Promptness,” or TIP. The idea was that you would receive a tip in exchange for better service.

It’s application in the modern world and in recent years has become a bit more ominous. In many circles, tipping has almost become a mandatory practice when visiting particular business where a consumer is served in any way. To be clear, tipping is not mandatory in Canada but it’s become an expectation and in some Provinces, a server’s wages are based on the expected receipt of a percentage in tips from customers, which is a bunch of nasty nonsense. I first experienced this back in 2006 when I travelled to Ottawa and stayed in Gatineau, Quebec, for the first time.

I made my way out with some friends during that first evening and ordered a beer. When it arrived, I was told by the others in my party that each drink had to be paid individually and at time of service. Fair enough, I paid. Then the waitress, with far more rudeness than what one would expect from someone asking for such a thing, promptly told me the tip wasn’t included in the cost and stood there, obviously expecting a tip. I looked at her blankly for a second, completely taken aback, before dropping some remaining change on her tray to accommodate her.

So shocked and taken aback was I by the interaction, I only had the one drink in order to avoid a confrontation. I was much calmer and more timid back then, than I am now. If someone tried that bullshit on me now, they’d get a surprise, alright. It just might not be a tip. I was later informed that wages in Quebec were often lower in anticipation of tips. I was floored. Tips are not meant to be part of a server’s salary! Are you kidding me? No wonder that Province has to do absolutely everything different from the rest of the country. And why I only lived there for roughly a year or so. Foolishness.

Realistically and traditionally, a tip is intended as a means of thanking your server or supplier for the excellent service they provided and shouldn’t be expected. If the service was sub-par or poor, the expectation was that a tip wouldn’t be provided. Beyond that, providing a tip is meant to not only be the choice of the consumer but how much is left also is not meant to be debated or expected. If all I happen to have on me is an added dollar and I choose to leave it, that added dollar should be appreciated as opposed to considered rude because it isn’t a certain percentage of the total bill.

And let’s address that aspect for a moment, shall we? When did it become a thing to consider it RUDE not to providing a specific percentage of one’s hard-earned money to someone else, ABOVE and BEYOND the total bill? Some of y’all need a serious reality check. The part I dislike the most is when a tip is expected BEFORE the delivery of a service, such as having pizza delivered. There’s always a tip portion to the online payment, which is comical since I have no idea yet what the service of the food will be like or if my order would be deserving of a tip. Did I say foolishness yet?

So why is this a problem? Well realistically, the practice of tipping has drastically changed over recent decades. Where leaving a tip was once the consumer’s choice and considered a compliment to one’s service provider, it’s almost become a mandatory expectation, with many people posting online things like, “Don’t tip your server and see what kind of food or service you get…” Excuse me? I’m pretty sure I’m still paying for that product or service and am still entitled to the same level and quality of product as the person who may have 20% available to provide their server.

Although not necessarily the server’s fault and while it’s not always possible to just “get another job if you’re not paid enough” (everyone’s circumstances are different, after all), the root problem is two-fold. On the one hand, employers shouldn’t be paying a lower wage because their employees receive tips. Tips are intended as an added reward for good service, not as part of their salary. On the other hand, consumers shouldn’t be almost bullied or cornered into tipping by virtue of that, either.

Did you know that there are places where tipping shows up on the bill without the consumer choosing it? Some retail locations now, even have a tipping option on the display tablet when paying. Nothing more awkward than being asked to tip and choose a percentage while the retail worker is awkwardly watching and knows what button you’re pressing. No pressure there. Although the consumer should never be obligated to tip, nor should the server or employee be paid based on tips, either.

Folks, I have absolutely no illusions of winning this battle. It’s one of those things where going against societal expectations is like holding a napkin against an ocean wave. What needs to happen, what should happen, is employers should pay their staff and employees a reasonable salary that allows them to live without depending on tips to do so. And customers should only be expected to pay the actual cost of the product or service they’re trying to obtain. Making it feel like an obligation goes against the intended purpose of a tip. Food for thought… ☯️

A Little Respect…

This is a point of contention that comes up for me, every year. I totally understand the thinking behind some of it and the lack of logic that many may have in regards to it, but it burns my ass no less. We’ve creeped into the month of November and with that comes a very special day that’s near and dear to my heart. I’m talking about Remembrance Day on November 11th.

Remembrance Day is a Memorial Day that observed on movers 11th in Canada and in fact, in most of the countries who are part of the British Commonwealth, to honour the soldiers and military members who fell in the line of duty. The day has been observed since the end of World War I but has grown to incorporate any and all fallen soldiers and members of the military. In Canada, it is usually observed with memorial parades, reading of the scroll of fallen soldiers and with moments of silence.

The reason I bring it up and why it’s important, is because it always seems as though as soon as Halloween has come and gone, everything starts to steer itself towards Christmas. Even though I’m not the biggest observer of Christmas, although this has changed significantly since I had children, I enjoy Christmas as much as the next person and I have a fondness of the lights, music and festivities that accompany it.

That being said, none of that should be happening until AFTER November 11. Some retail locations have already started to set up their Christmas wares as a result of Halloween supplies having sold out and the holiday passing. As much as I can understand the need to ensure a retail location’s shelves aren’t sitting empty, respect should still be shown to those who gave their lives to ensure the many freedoms we enjoy today, no matter how much everyone complains they want more.

I come from a family with a significant military background. My grandfather was a combat soldier in Europe during World War II. The majority of my mother’s siblings all served in the Canadian Armed Forces, with many of my cousins choosing to do, as well. I was one of the exceptions who went the federal police route by virtue of my Diabetes. People don’t fully acknowledge the kind of things that a soldier experiences during active duty. Most are content with having their heads in the sand and simply enjoying their freedoms without acknowledging how they got there.

Let’s show our respect this month. Wear a poppy until the end of the moment of silence on November 11. keep your Christmas enthusiasm in its pants until November 12th. For those who gave their lives, it’s the least we can do and the least we show. Food for thought…☯️

A Diabetic Halloween…

Today is Halloween, which is celebrated in different ways by different cultures and has different backgrounds and origins, depending on who you ask. For the majority of children in North America, it represents a night where they can dress up in their favourite costume and canvass their neighbourhood for free candy and chocolate handouts. I could try and choose my favourite origin for this day but rather, I think it’s more important to describe my perspective from the Diabetic standpoint.

As a child, I would be brought out for Halloween with my mother and older brother. I would receive at every door and fill this small, plastic pumpkin bucket that my brother and I both had. It would be loads of fun and I remember that as a child, I would love trick-or-treating. That is, until I got home and reality came crashing down… Although I made my way out for Halloween when I was 3-years old, I was diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes when I turned 4, permanently altering my level of involvement and enjoyment with the holiday.

No matter how much or how little candy was collected, the process would involve dumping our collected goods on the kitchen table where my mother and father would sort and go through everything to determine what I could have and what I couldn’t. Sounds reasonable, right? This is what most parents do but in my case, it meant removing ALL of the candy and leaving only a couple of apples and some chips. My parents were unfortunately oblivious to the fact that both of those items had carbohydrates and sugars in them.

It would seem like a cruel twist that I would be permitted to walk in the elements all evening, knocking on every door and actively collecting all that goodness, only to have it all taken away from me because I had Diabetes. Oh sure, there would be times of low blood sugar where I might get lucky and enjoy a piece of my hard-gotten candy but it was pretty rare. Especially once my parents and family got into the stash and helped themselves.

It may not seem like the worst thing that can happen to a person but for a child, it can be reasonably upsetting, which meant that by the time I reached my oldest son’s age of 7, I outright refused to celebrate or participate in Halloween. This only contributed to my loner persona as I wouldn’t even wear a costume to school. “You do know that a costume won’t affect your blood sugars, right?” Yeah, small consolation for the young child who sees everyone else gorging themselves with candy.

It created a bit of a hatred on my part for the particular holiday, especially since the main focus in Western society is on the trick-or-treat aspect. That is, until I had children of my own. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of walking out in the cold while my kids are trying to get free candy. But I an certainly appreciate their enthusiasm and excitement and I get the benefit of knowing that they don’t suffer from the same condition as I do, so I get to live vicariously through their eyes as they get to totally enjoy the fruit of their efforts. Or rather, the candy of their efforts. Sometimes, perspective is ALMOST as important as participation. Happy Halloween! ☯️

Movember 2022

That’s right, folks! There’s only one day of October left so I’m pitching for donations to raise money for Movember. I did this last year and my work colleagues and I were able to raise over $500 for this fantastic initiative by growing our moustaches and asking for donations from friends and family. This year promises to be even more fun as I’ve agreed to grow out ALL of my facial hair, including a full beard as well as growing out the hair on my head.

So for those who may not be in the know, what the hell is “Movember?” It apparently started in 1999 when a group in Australia came up with the idea of growing their moustaches for charity. By 2003, Movember was established as an annual event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s overall mental health.

Movember is a registered charity in Canada and raises funds for a cause near and dear to my heart, considering my grandfather had prostate cancer. Besides participating actively as a donator and growing my moustache, I’m hoping that some of my loyal followers out there will see their way into donating as well. Even if only $5 or $10 dollars, any and all donations are appreciated and help.

So how can you donate? Well, the easiest way would be to visit the Movember website, clicking on “Donate” at the top right corner, select “Find a person or team” and enter my name (Shawn Cook). From there, you can click on the donate button and follow the prompts. Easy as that. There’s often a stigma out there that mental health isn’t an issue with men but I can tell you for a fact that this is inaccurate. We need as much help as everyone else. Help me keep men from dying too young. What you grow will help save a bro. Thanks for reading. ☯️

Friendships To Last…

As I’ve often written before, humans are inherently pack animals. Why else would we all gather in large groups to build towns and cities? There’s no denying there’s safety in numbers, which is why animals tend to travel in packs, as well. There’s also a social component to it, where most people crave time with others of their own kind. This isn’t to say that there aren’t issues with that concept.

That very same gathering of people can lead to significant issues such as criminal activity, exhaustion of resources and less availability of services due to the amount of people taking advantage at once. But there’s no denying that at our core, we seek out other people and this becomes evident through a firmer connection with others that we refer to as friendships. Loosely defined, because I haven’t defined something in my posts in FOREVER, friendship can be described as a state of mutual trust and support between two parties who wish to enjoy mutual interests.

That definition is quite loose indeed and is more my perspective on what a friendship is, rather than an actual dictionary definition. Do people use dictionaries anymore? Probably not, with the internet available… But I digress… Friendships are important and an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, even to those who prefer to be alone. Solitude eventually has a significant impact on one’s overall mental well-being and growth. This is why we seek out like-minded people from a young age.

During childhood, friendships follow a come-and-go model where you’ll usually be friends with the same kid of the roughly the same age that you have available. For example, my son Nathan used to be great friends with the boy who lived next door. When that family moved away, he started playing with the boy and girl across the street and forgot all about the boy next door. Kids are flexible that way and are more about the social interaction than who they’re having it with.

As we get older, however, friendships become more about connections and retaining the person, more so than the interaction. The best friendships are the ones that although you may not have spoken in weeks or months, you still value your time with them when you DO get the chance to get together. I have many of those. That’s certainly preferable to people who have constant contact with you but are in a constant state of conflict. Conflict is never a good thing and will always contribute to one’s own suffering as well as theirs.

The big problem with said conflict is that it usually leads to negative feelings and emotions and damages the friendship. Although I’m a huge proponent of “it’s never too late,” willingness to repair a rift will only carry you so far, especially if the other person is unwilling or incapable of communicating or compromising. To be clear, even though conflict isn’t good, it is normal and it will happen in any long-lasting friendship, whether we want it or not.

As we grow into adulthood and maintain those limited relationships, these issues become more dominant. This makes sense, since adults are more prone to their own opinions and feelings, which may not always reflect with yours. This doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be a continued communication between those two parties. But that’s the funny thing about communication; it can’t be one-sided. Both people need to be involved in the conversation for it to, well… BE a conversation.

All of this wordy bullshit is to say that if you find yourself in conflict with a friend because they have a differing opinion than yours, remember that while you have no obligation or expectation of explaining yourself, a little explanation and clarification can go a long way. Especially if your goal is to retain and maintain the friendship. And if someone has cut you out and stopped communicating as a result of a misunderstanding, you really only have two options: take the initiative and try to repair the rift or, and especially if it’s happened frequently, let them go. Much like the old saying, if they were meant to be in your life, they’ll make their way back. Food for thought… ☯️

When Reality Slaps You In The Face…

I tend to harp a lot on visual depictions of the martial arts. As much as I love a good action movie, it’s very difficult to ignore some of the liberties and exaggerations taken by film makers when it comes to fighting. This is especially true in the case of two individuals taking and giving multiple strikes to the head or body and jay keep on fighting. It would almost be laughable if the adolescent in me wasn’t so immersed in the action sequences and storyline. But I digress…

As much as I’ve written about the differences between what happens in real life and what happens in the movies, it dawns on me that I rarely talk about the other important difference that happens in material arts circles; what happens in the dojo versus what happens on real life. Or what happens in a tournament setting, as the stakes are potentially different on a mat than in a dojo.

There’s no arguing that the dojo is a controlled environment. Accidents can still happen and injuries can still be sustained (as premised by the fractured rib I got, last spring) but for the most part, there’s structure, control and oversight. The goal is to learn and train. Practice takes place to ensure good muscle memory. Sparring takes place so that one can sharpen fighting skills and further develop that muscle memory but there’s always a control in place.

In tournament or on the street, such controls are not in place. The motivations and goals are different and therefore, a practitioner will use their skills differently. I believe an acquaintance of mine put it best where he explained that comparing a tournament to sparring in a dojo is like walking a high wire versus laying a rope on the floor and asking someone if they can walk on it. It’s a pretty apt comparison since almost anyone could walk on the rope while it’s laying on the floor. Tie that rope a 100 feet above ground and see how well a person walks across it, then.

Sensei has never been a fan of the tournament environment. As a result, I’ve never done more than dabble in it, myself. Karate, for me, has always been for the preservation of my life, both physical and medical, as well as for the protection of others. But in the interest of knowing one’s limits and understanding one’s skills, tournament can be extremely good as you may be exposed to aspects that you wouldn’t in the dojo. Food for thought… A shout out to Boris for the idea for this post. ☯️

As I Live And Breathe…

For the most part, it’s already bad enough when Diabetes causes me to be hooked up to device on my flesh on a constant basis, requires me to poke holes in my fingers and micro-manage every bite of food and drink that goes down my gullet. But then there are tests and examinations, evaluations and changes in prescription and/or routine, all of which can create chaos and wreak havoc on someone who may have a finely balanced routine for their Type-1 Diabetes.

For me, the biggest thorn in my side isn’t constant blood glucose testing or even the eye injections I get every eight weeks; it’s the pre-appointment bloodwork. I’ve written about these “adventures’ before (and I use the term loosely because an adventure usually involves an element of fun), and most people know that I have zero love in my heart for getting bloodwork done. The reason for this is pretty simple; I hate waiting on nothing.

When I was a child, things were simpler. When I needed to get bloodwork done, I would be brought to my local hospital’s admissions desk and get checked in. I would attend the lab and wait for my turn, have blood drawn and be on my way. Usually, I would even get stickers for my troubles. All of this would take no more than twenty minutes, start to finish. And definitely, the concept of going anywhere BUT a hospital to have bloodwork done was an alien concept to me. Until I moved to Saskatchewan.

The concept of going to an independent blood collection lab was a bit of a fascination for me, at first. I remember getting that first bloodwork requisition from my family physician and her saying, “Take this to any blood collection lab…” I asked if she meant the hospital and she looked at me as though I had grown a second head. But it wasn’t until late 2009 when I attended a blood collection lab to have my blood drawn, which would subsequently be sent to my family doctor.

At some point in the past few years, the blood collection sites in Regina that I’ve been using were bought out by a different corporation. Their staffing levels dropped and so did the quality of service. It wasn’t unusual for wait times to average two hours or more, depending on whether you used their “save my spot” app or tried to make an appointment. I say “tried” because depending on which location you were using, their willingness to TAKE appointments constantly changes.

The last visit I had there saw me wait until a couple of hours had passed before I was sat in a chair. Then another twenty minutes before a technician came and collected my blood. All of this took place while I had been fasting and holding a full bladder for a urine sample since the previous evening. For these reasons and various others, I have a significant hate on for attending blood collection labs. As a child, at least I had the benefit of skipping part of the school day. Now, I have to take time off work, which just puts me behind on everything.

Anyway, this visit was different. I had checked their hours of operation the previous evening and confirmed they opened at 7 am. I woke the next morning, got prepared and showered, and was on the road by 6:30, intent on being one of the first in line when they opened. My location is particularly cruel in their propensity for having a line-up of people waiting outside. This wouldn’t be so bad during the summer months but winter is already upon us in Regina and standing in line while it snows usually isn’t pleasant, no matter how well dressed one is.

I arrived at the location and saw no line-up outside the door and no person waiting inside. I couldn’t believe my luck. Had I struck a day where no one else was getting blood work? I waked up to the door and gave it a light tug to discover that it was locked. In my indignation, I pulled out my phone and began calling the location. As it was ringing, I looked at the hours of operation on the door and checked the time. It was only 6:45. I played off as though I had a wrong number and hung up.

This explained why there was no one waiting. Despite the fact I felt as though I was running behind, I was actually earlier than opening time. When the doors finally opened at 7:00, I was first in line, first to be seated in a collection chair and the overall visit took about fifteen minutes! I even made it to work on time despite telling my boss I would be coming in late. I was impressed enough that I was left speechless, which to anyone who knows me, understands why that’s a big deal.

Now that I’ve gotten a taste of an efficient, timely appointment that went off without a hitch, I’m kind of expecting to have it that EVERY time. I’m sure that expectation will be disappointed, but a guy can hope, right? Next week, I have my bi-yearly appointment with my endocrinologist and we’ll see how tainted my blood was. Hopefully, my A1C has stayed in check, despite some of the obstacles I’ve faced recently. We shall see. ☯️