Sunday, December 13, 2009
The first two years I was at the University of Manitoba, I shipped my laundry home by baggage, for my mother to wash and press. My dad was a station agent in our little town in Saskatchewan so I had a railway pass. I used my pass as a ticket and sent my dirty clothing by baggage as luggage. My dad would pick it up from the baggage car and, when it was laundered, send it back by baggage. Clearly there was no cost in this transaction. It was transported by the Transcontinental passenger train that didn't normally stop between Winnipeg and Saskatoon, other than Rivers and Melville. We called it the "Flyer". It normally bypassed all fifty odd hamlets on the line. When it stopped to unload my baggage, no doubt all the passengers looked out and wondered why the train stopped at a place like this. "Who would be getting off here ?", was doubtless on their mind. No one! I had three dress shirts for good but I took them to Quinton's, the cleaner, in Winnipeg, and used them sparingly. My mum always put in cookies when she sent my laundry back. I think the baggage trick was an abuse of the CNR at the time and, if one factored in the cost of stopping and starting the Flyer, it was an edgy act at best. My brothers, who were still at home at the time, told me recently that they resented the fact that I always got the good cookies, and the broken ones were left for them. What a callow youth I was, underestimating the blessings I was afforded! I think now, that there was then, and still is, a sense of entitlement that allows us, erroneously, to take liberties with an institution, because, they seem to have lots, and we don't!