Adult learning and bed bugs

Dear Uma: We are back from the fleshpots of Whitehorse once again, having survived yet another excursion on the winter road.

Dear Uma:

We are back from the fleshpots of Whitehorse once again, having survived yet another excursion on the winter road.

Never have I lived anywhere where I felt such gratitude at the sight of my home, so fraught is each journey in this place of snow and ice and wild animals wandering the highway.

In answer to your question: no, I don’t think I would like to live in the Yukon’s capital even though I concede your point of the airport being much more convenient for travel Outside than our current situation. I’ve mentioned it to you before; I have grown fond of this little town, and of my life here. Oddly, it suits me just fine and I am as surprised as anyone to find this is so. Of all the places my wandering could have ceased, I never would have thought of the Yukon.

Few Canadians think of the Yukon, and even our tourism consists largely of people headed to Alaska. I am just as glad; one of the things I like best here is that there are so few of us.

This is also a good place from which to watch the rest of the world; it’s the best seat in the house, so to speak. We are protected by geography and federal money from a lot of the issues that plague people living in more benign and populated places.

And Uma, you gotta admit, it is vastly amusing. Every play is better when one knows the players. When I see things like this ad in the Yukon News this week, life just gets sunnier:

Confined Space Awareness “This one-day course is designed to educate the individual in the recognition of a confined space.”

This government-sponsored course costs $175 and those who sign up will not only learn how to recognize a confined space, but how to work safely with others, or alone, in the confined space. As much fun as I am having imagining who might sign up for this course, it is equally entertaining imagining who the instructor might be. The North, like anywhere else, has no shortage of people suffering from various personal challenges, but recognizing a confined space must surely limit the enrolment.

Although, come to think of it, maybe it is for those who were born here, or for longtime residents of these wide open spaces; people who may truly be hampered by an inability to recognize a confined space.

It does beg the question of a bathroom, however, or even an outhouse, as everyone must at some time or another encounter these confined spaces. Oh! Of course! Obviously they will have experienced confined spaces; the course is designed to teach them to recognize it. The only people I can think of who may need help with this issue and could afford to pay for it are government workers. That would mean there is the possibility that those who were paid with government money to take the government sponsored training program on learning to work in mines are the victims of an oversight. The instructors forgot to acquaint them with the confined spaces of a mining tunnel or the cab of a grader and will now, for an additional $175, make up for their carelessness.

Then there is the one called Managing Response to Threat and Aggression, also government sponsored. Many, if not most, of the participants are likely to be government employees having this venture into higher education paid for by the government. Considering most of the threats and aggression come from this very government, just signing up for it would be a daring thing to do so. My guess would be they are mandated to take this course. Like, take this course or lose your job; all very oxymoronic.

It all sounds like money-laundering, doesn’t it? Like those stores we see that sell Halloween costumes year round and are rarely open for business. Or the one that sold sea shells, all the same sort of shell, dustily piled in bins. It too was rarely open and the one time I went in there, just because it was actually open, the young woman behind the counter could not tell me the name of the shells.

These courses also remind me of the Monty Python list which contained such gems as How to Turn Your Vacuum Cleaner into an Uzzi, and How to Bonsai Your Pet; it’s an effort to take them seriously unless one is making a living teaching them, or taking them, for that matter.

It’s hard to do more than roll one’s eyes at the antics of government, all governments anywhere. They are getting so alike, worldwide, but nothing will be changing as long as there are a few places to like Somalia to remind us that maybe lousy government is better than no government at all. How’s that for hopelessness?

I was glad to hear that Wayne’s surgery went well. The hip replacement procedure is definitely one of the better accomplishments of western medicine. I am happy for Juan that his favourite dog is able to bounce around once again, but I am somewhat struck by the irony of how quickly he was able to have the operation. I have met people here who have been waiting a year and often longer for this procedure. Now I can’t help but thinking they ought to be seeing their veterinarians instead of their surgeons; it’d cost the same, but it seems it would certainly happen faster. One may have to do one’s recovery in a crate, with kibble for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but it’d be worth a couple of days discomfort to walk away with a working joint – hopefully upright.

The bed bug panic is not unknown to me; it was all over the Internet, the news growing more urgent everyday as it was revealed that even the posh hotels were getting infested. I thought about it only while I was reading about it; I must say beyond that, bed bugs were not on my mind. Even checking into the Westmark in Whitehorse on several occasions since learning about the pest, it never once occurred to me to ask the desk staff if their hotel had ever had, or was having, issues with bed bugs. Neither Pete nor I have ever encountered them, though we have in our time seen some pretty strange creatures in various hotel rooms around the globe, with the best one being two stark naked people in the closet. Oh those Germans!

Anyway, good to know the big hotel chains are recognizing the problem of bed bugs and have come up with a solution. If you are willing to pay more for your room, they will guarantee it is bug-free. For those who can’t pay this increase? Well, they just have to take their chances, not only on acquiring a parasite but on being seen and known as someone either too poor or too cheap to make certain they do not encounter bed bugs. That would be the nongovernment workers.

Still on the research trail and still finding it interesting enough to keep me going though sometimes I think it would be nice to experience a real job. I’d have to change my hours, but the amount of work time would be the same and I’d have company. Unless I end up in a confined space, alone.



Heather Bennett is a writer who lives in Watson Lake.

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