Thunder Bay–Oh, I’ll Be Back

Thunder Bay--Oh, I'll Be Back

I recently spent time at home in Thunder Bay and, because I engage with people, had an interesting encounter with a local. My family says this stuff never happens to them around town. They are either lying or I am being punked.

I will warn you, as the details of this story unfold it will not be apparent what the relevant details are… is it the pistachio bag, the vanilla pudding, or Michael Bublé? I assure you, none of these details are relevant, but all give my home town a little added flavour.

Here is how my morning went.

My father doesn’t have coffee or fruit in his house so when I woke up the first morning I headed to Safeway for both. I’d shop for the fruit, order and pay for the coffee, pay for fruit, pick up the coffee and leave. Eight minutes tops.

I had my fruit, check, I went to order coffee. There was one gentleman ahead of me who ordered and was about to pay when he dug out a giant resealable pistachio bag. I thought that odd, but not too odd for Thunder Bay. What he did next was also not too odd for The Bay. He dumped out that bag and inside was hundreds and hundreds of pennies. If you are not in Canada, I will let you know we phased out the penny in 2013. It is still legal tender but the merchants are not to give pennies as change so they can go back to the Mint and be disposed of properly (which I hope means flattened and the made into charms with the national monuments we can purchase at souvenir shops. I’d like one with the giant nickel in Sudbury on it because the irony of that would make me smile).

Wouldn’t this look great on a penny?

As the employee was counting the pennies, and I was prepared to wait it out, the customer kept interrupting to which the barista said, “You have to stop talking because I keep losing track.” Cue time to pay for my bananas.

I waited in line for the older gentleman in front of me to process his transaction. His order consisted almost entirely of 6-packs of vanilla puddings. After each pudding was scanned, he would run the item to a little table reserved for people having their coffee in the store. After EACH scan in case you didn’t pick that up.

Fruit paid for… back to coffee. The shop is located in the grocery store so it was an easy stroll from vanilla pudding headquarters.

The pennies had been counted and the remainder were being swiped back into the pistachio bag. The man with the money said, in a very Canadian way, “Sorry to hold you up, but the bank machine swallowed my card.” He showed me his empty wallet and it contained nothing but a health card. Not even a stray penny was in there for colour. I made a mental note to buy him his coffee if he was there the next day.

I then offered, “You will have to get to the bank today and get your card back.”

“I want to but I have to get to work by 9.”

“Well, you will have plenty of time to enjoy your coffee then as it is only 7.40,” as I picked up rolling copper off the floor to put into the bag.

“I have to be in line though before 9.”

“What kind of work do you do that requires you to line up?”

“I’m in construction and, even though I have one-year seniority, I have to be in line to get offered a job for the day.”

“I hope you get a job today then.”

“If not, I will work on my career.”

Now, I’m engaging. “What’s your career?”

He tells me it is singing and he held up his hand mic to his mouth, “Count me in.”

I obliged with, “4, 3, 2, 1.”

Then he begins singing. He wasn’t too bad. Construction must be slow and practice frequent. Remember, we are in the middle of a grocery store during this serenade. He did a few bars and I began to clap in a golf sort of way.

“That was a little Michael Bublé for you.”

“I know. That was good.”

“I also do impressions.”


“I do The Terminator.”

Spoiler Alert: He may spend more time on his career than his impressions. This is what he did in the middle of Safeway and what I reckoned he thought he looked like.

When he was right in my face I said, “I’ll be back.”

I wish I hadn’t but it was a knee-jerk reaction and I wasn’t sure he was going to stop his forward progression. It did work to stop his impression though.

He stood there and looked dejected before saying, “How did you know?”

This is when I started to laugh. I had held it in through the pennies, the vanilla pudding and the Michael Bublé. But this was my straw and the giggles didn’t stop.

“He only had one line,” was all I could tell my new friend to justify my knowledge of his finale.

He kept talking like the Terminator while I caught my breath… “I am from Austria, not from Canada. I am a big bodybuilder.” I’m sure I don’t have to tell you the rest because you have all experienced this exact scenario. Then he stopped in his tracks again to compliment me. I was wearing sweatpants and these runners and he liked them both.

Pretty sexy huh? It was my Thunder Bay fancy–meaning more lounge pant than sweatpant so I can see the appeal.

That is when I decided I would have to wait for his next performance on the big stage. Watch out Michael, he’ll be back.


Terminator Image by Gerhard Janson from Pixabay

Nickel Image Wikipedia Images

Footage from The Terminator from Orion Pictures, No Copyright intended. I Do Not Own Any Footage. This Is only For Entertainment Purposes.


  1. Aw…what a sweet story. Also…your patience is amazing.

  2. Wow. That is definitely an unusual encounter. I especially like how, based on your impersonation of his impersonation, he also does an impressive Boris Karloff.
    And speaking as a numismatist it saddens me that Canada did away with the penny. Canadian pennies are cool and I like how they’ve changed over time. They may not be as cool as the Sudbury nickel–I have at least one small version of that–and Canada’s 1967 coins are as cool as it gets, but even when I was a kid I liked finding the occasional Canadian penny in my change.
    Christopher recently posted…In Harm’s Way.My Profile

  3. Your life just amazes me. If I wasn’t at least old enough to be your mother’s age (possibly your grandmother), I’d ask to be adopted. I’m most certainly going to enjoy the rest of June through your efforts alone!

  4. I was thinking that impression more resembled a drunken T-Rex. I have tons of Canadian pennies and quarters left at my house from when my step-children visited. Funny, they never seem to leave any loonies or toonies behind though.
    Arionis recently posted…642 Things To Write About – 5/642My Profile

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