Open – nobody home & no leak on the ferry!

About 1975. The opening party of Scandinavian Imports furniture store at Quadra & McKenzie in Victoria was a great success. All the staff from Gastown and Guildford, about 25 in total, was invited, with a few other friends. Good food and drinks a plenty.

Local dignitaries came by, I can not remember who cut the ribbon, but it was in the papers the next day. Next door was a distillery, they came by, and brought  lots of their products, all fine, may be except the gallon size sweet sherry. Some people took liking to the sherry, with a convenient glass handle, to put over your shoulder and drink as in the old Western movies.

The food and party went fine, I helped clean up and close, shortly after midnight, it was a saturday evening, so the store was closed in  Victoria, but some of the staff had to open the store in Gastown by 11 the next day, but that was a long time away. All staff had a hotel room at the Harbour Towers, and could take a bus and ferry back to Vancouver the next morning.

Bjorn … liked the sherry, very much, and when we got back the hotel, I pretended to be Bjorn, called the reception from his room, and asked specifically, to make sure they woke me up and got me on the first bus in the morning. Bjorn was going to open the store in Gastown at 11 next day. No problem. I even went by the front desk later that night, explained the problem, that Bjorn might be a little slow in the next morning, but they promised to get him on the bus.

Bjorn got on the bus; but he forgot his bag, his keys, and everything else at his room, but he was on the bus, compliments to the front desk. About at McKenzie he wanted to get off. He was explaining that in person to the bus driver. There were no stops before the ferry. During the discussions, the bus drove into a car or two in front, at a red light the driver missed because of Bjorn’s insistence of getting off. In the chaos that followed, he got off and got away.

I asked the front desk in the morning if Bjorn got on the bus, and yes, they could all witness to that, it must have been a struggle. I got a call about 11.30. The store in Gastown was open, there were no lights on, and nobody there, but visitors and tourist in the store. I told them where the light switch was. When I got back that evening, I dropped in and closed the store, making sure nobody was sleeping in the display beds. Nothing stolen, nothing sold, self service all day.

I had a nice breakfast with my girlfriend at the time, drove up to the store, just to see if all was in order, nothing else to do, proud of opening a new major furniture store. The doors were open, some of the food was back on a table, and even as this was in the early afternoon, there was people sleeping in the display beds in the store window, some I knew, some I never seen before or after. There were no customers. Bjorn was one of the ones that slept heaviest, I could not get anything out of him, the sherry had taken over. Could have been the Aquavit from the night before. It is nice with pickled herring, but as a breakfast drink it is killing.

My friend Greg …., from South Africa, had his first feeling with Aquavit and pickled herring. He only liked the first part. They go together, and are no good alone. His wife of that time, could not stop him from taking the last ferry to Tsawassen, even thought I had paid for a room at the nice hotel. Greg is a nice, educated South African gentleman, never offended anybody before. He worked with computers when they were fours stories tall.

It is a two-hour ferry trip, a real nice trip. He disappeared, needed to find a bathroom for a leak. He did not. But once in a paint locker he releaved himself. The crew did not like that, and locked him in there. In a dark paint locker on the ferries, there is not much to do, but with a fire axe from the wall, one can make some serious noise. Greg did. He was subdued by the crew, put in irons, hand and foot, arrested by the Captain, trying to kill him, the Captain said in court many months later.

His wife got scared, thinking he fell overboard, started asking the crew. First at Tsawassen she got the message. Everybody had to stay on board until a crazy man could be collected by the RCMP. The police cars came driving on board, took her husband in handcuffs to shore and on to the nearest jail. She did not get him out that night, but called me to tell me what a party it had been, and if I could help with bail.

Many months later Greg got a suspended sentence for threatening a Ships Captain, damage to Government Property, and probably a few more things, all that for pissing in a paint locker, Gentleman as he was; he could have pissed overboard like the others do.

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