the plumber's Vol. 4 Issue 1 September 2015 plumbersledger.ca
+ Road Culture in Argentina and Chile
+ The Search for Plumbers (Again) + Huey
FROM THE EDITOR
Tell your friends, tell your enemies, tell your mom, even tell your grandma! It s the first issue of the year! We have a lot planned this year, but first, let s focus on what s happening in this issue. We got ahold of the new EUS executive team, and they bring us up to date on what they ve been doing all summer as they got ready for the upcoming year.
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Frederick Chagnon ADVISORS Camille Warner Morgan Mattone
CAMPUS EDITOR [vacant]
LIFESTYLE EDITOR [vacant]
FEATURES EDITOR Arman Izadi SCITECH EDITOR [Vacant] MEDIA EDITOR Alex Zelensky
CONTRIBUTORS David Bailey Frederick Chagnon Marc Chelala Daniel Gelaf Mariam Hachem Jessica McAvoy Matthew Osborne Ian Richardson Chris Sarlos Jean-Louis Shi 1
We also have a very special contribution from the newly graduated founder of the Ledger, David Bailey. If there was such a thing as a Plumber s Ledger Hall of Fame, he would surely be in there.
The name of Daniel Gelaf is familiar to regular readers of the Plumber s Faucet. In his first ever Ledger article, he revisits the question of where does our common obsession with plumbers comes from. It s the culmination of a summer of hard research and the conclusion to our previous article on the subject, brilliantly written by Brigid Cami (recently reprinted in this year s Frosh Issue). What s even better is that there s a Faucet version of the same story. It s up to you to decide which one you like best. As always, the Ledger is always looking for new talent to showcase! Whether you feel like writing on any subject, want to present your art, or want to help with the publishing business itself, there s a place for you in the Ledger Family! Remember to like us on Facebook and visit our website, Fred, Editor-in-Chief
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EUS Execs Team
The (Terminated) Search for the Origins of the Plumber, Pt. 1.........................................................................11
Road Culture Around the World.......................................7
View this issue and previous ones in glorious technicolor at issuu.com/theplumbersledger
The Plumber s Ledger is a publication of the Engineering Undergraduate Society of McGill University. The views expressed are solely the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the EUS.
For questions, comments, and complaints, as well as more information on the policies of The Plumber s Ledger, please use the contact information below. Use this contact information also if you have an interest in contributing to the The Plumber s Ledger on a one-time or regular basis.
The Plumber s Ledger email@example.com Volume 4, Issue 1 September 2015 ISSN 2291-3319(Print) ISSN 2291-3397(Online).
The Plumberâ€™s Ledger
SUMMER TIME â€˜15 BY THE EUS EXECS
By the time September begins, a few important things will have occurred in the life of the McGill engineer. The football team will have proven once again that inventing something doesn t mean you re good at it (actually for the first time in 15 years, McGill won their season opener). For better or worse, Frosh will be underway. Perhaps more importantly, OAP will be in full swing. Classes will begin, soon to be followed by Blues Pub. What do most of these have in common? The EUS is involved in some way.
You might just be getting back to school, but the new executive team has been hard at work the entire summer to bring you an exciting year once again. We ve caught up with all of them, and they re sharing what we can expect and what they ve been doing. MARIAM HACHEM PRESIDENT
My personal goal from the EUS presidency is to be able to focus all of my energy into helping shape our engineering society put forth its best for its students, while at the same time continue to be leading across other Canadian engineering societies in what matters most, such as diversity and sustainability.
Last year, a strong foundation was built and this year will be an expansion and enhancement on the foundation, which we will do based on the feedback we have 3
received from our students.
On her legacy-to-be...
To break all the stereotypes surrounding who and who cannot be active in the EUS circle by making its radius infinite. First Year Survival Guide
Don t stress about failure Look forward to it, you ll experience it and live through it and it will set you up for good laughter in your coming years. Meet new people Go up to people you think are interesting and talk to them, ask
them questions! Trust me, this can prove to be quite interesting and fruitful. Ask for help This could be done in collaboration with the previous point. Engineering students are well known to be some of the most collaborative and most helpful people on campus. If it s taking you too long to get something done, the chances are there is someone sitting on campus who can help you do it 3x faster and have it be a more enjoyable experience. Be proud It s hard to remember in the midst of oncoming midterms and
reports and assignments and activities that you are at a Top 20 university and you made it here on your own! Be proud and make sure to make the best out of your McGill experience in the short four (or five, or six…) years you have here.
IAN RICHARDSON FINANCE
Welcome to the EUS! My name is Ian Richardson and I m the VP Finance for the 2015-16 year. The position is pretty self-explanatory; I manage the funds for the student society (easier said than done). I had plenty of time to shadow my predecessor, David Bailey, and absorb a lot of the knowledge that he could pass on to me. In doing so, he advised me to surround myself with Directors for various parts of my portfolio. I recruited Eliott Demelier as the Corporate Relations Director, Jacqueline Vary as the Funds Director and Alex Dow as the Budget Director. Eliott and his team have been doing corporate outreach for sponsorship over the summer for the EUS. Jacqueline has been helping transform the Student Space Fund (SSF) chair position into a Funds Director that oversees the SSF, Clubs Fund, and Design Team Fund. Alex has done the preliminary budget for the EUS operating budget and will help with the fall and winter budgets. With these additions to the team, I m able to better do my day-today operations and get some help on things that might get over looked. This helps with the transparency of the EUS finances and makes more groups more accountable. The Plumber’s Ledger
The only committee I have under my portfolio is the Open Air Pub (OAP) committee. I oversee all operations and am in charge of the OAP finances. So over the summer I ve been helping the rest of the team plan for “The Best Place on Earth”. OAP is completely volunteer run and the managers dedicate countless hours into making sure that the best event on campus happens every year. The proceeds from OAP in the fall go back into the EUS operating budget which then gets distributed between various funds, committees, clubs, design teams, and departments. Proceeds from OAP in the spring all go to the President s Choice Children Charity, which helps tremendously with the supply of food at OAP. There are a lot of other things that I do that I could write much more about; however, most people don t want to read about how to deal with taxes as a non-forprofit and how it applies to many different factors. That being said, if you ever have any questions about anything, don t hesitate to stop by my office or shoot me and email at firstname.lastname@example.org
MARC CHELALA ACADEMIC
This summer, I was working at a small medical devices company in Montreal; I had lots of fun and learned a lot (If you want information on biomedical engineering related jobs in Montreal, come talk to me!). Being in Montreal over the summer was very helpful in getting me started on various EUS projects. So far,
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my experience with the EUS has been truly great: we have a very cohesive team with strong ideas, and we ve been able to advance our portfolios despite being thousands of miles apart. Regarding the Academic portfolio, I worked with University Advancement [UA] on securing funds for the Peer Tutoring Service. Thanks to the hard work of the people at UA, we were able to obtain a sizeable donation for the EPTS that should cover the budget for the next two years hopefully. Katherine, the new EPTS manager, has been doing a great job over the summer and I m projecting even more growth for the service this year.
Mariam [The President – Ed.] and I also rolled out several logistical changes to the EUSF [Engineering Undergraduate Support Fund – Ed.] in order to have more oversight over the use of money after proposals are approved. This past two months, I coordinated with all the departmental VP Academics and we recently passed 31 solid proposals geared towards academic support and professional development. They include support for additional TA and grader hours, a sustainability technicianship, as well as creation of new course content, tutorials and hands-on labs. A few side projects I m currently working on with the other execs: reorganization of all the EUS bylaws, renovation of Infosys, and branding of the EUS Mall (Shoutout to Laurie, our amazing Media Director!). 4
But my most interesting project at the moment is the creation of the 3D printing lab with the Mechanical Engineering department and MAMSS. Thanks to EFC and EUSF support, the lab will be up and running starting this Fall to serve a limited number of courses + design teams. For this semester, Chris, Ian and I will be working on setting up a more sustainable operation for the lab as a service open to all students. We re still looking for a good name for the space; send us your ideas at vpacademic@ mcgilleus.ca !
CAMILLE WARNER COMMUNICATIONS
Almost did a double take when I wrote “U2.” I swear I just did Frosh of Thrones yesterday… I digress. It has been quite a busy summer. I worked to varying degrees with each of my three directors over the past few months.
From a publications perspective, the glorious EUS Handbook has graced us with its presence at last, accompanied by the first of many issues of both the Plumber s Ledger and the Plumber s Faucet. I also had the privilege of working with the IT director to understand what issues our IT system faces, and I am currently prioritizing efforts to address these issues and improve the future stability of EUS IT. Finally, our media team was incredibly occupied this summer working on a variety of logos for committees, as well as the development of a Publicom overhaul. Personally I am interested in improving the overall stability of 5
IT this year. Additionally, Marc [VP Academic—Ed.] and I will be working together on a few personal projects, including revamping the EUS Mall aesthetically and looking into offering practical tutorials to engineering students. All in all, it has been an eventful four month period, and I am so excited to continue working on these projects throughout the school year!
JESSICA McAVOY CLUBS & ADMIN
This summer, I kept busy working two jobs; one as a server in a golf course restaurant, and the second in a café as a do-everything employee. Working anywhere from 11 to 16 hours kept my days packed, to say the least. Even though most of my free time was devoted to catching up on sleep, I did my best at staying on top of the truckloads of emails I was now getting. As well as sifting through the wealth of information I now had access to in order to learn all I could for the upcoming year. With this new information, I created a how-to guide for those who wish to create an EUS club, and began the planning for Activities Day and the Blood Drive in the later days of my summer. It was definitely a hectic summer. I learned so much and identified a few things that I will have to work on. Nonetheless, I am super excited for the year to come!
JEAN-LOUIS SHI EXTERNAL
Great to be back after a semester abroad! Being a EUS exec has been quite a ride so far so
I can t wait for the year to start. Here is some info you should know about the position. The VP External portfolio currently consist of 3 major categories: Representation (CREIQ, CFES), Committees (McGill Engineering Competition, EngGames) and External Affairs (External Events, Ordre d Ingénieur du Quebec). Exceptionally this year, two nationwide events namely the Canadian Engineering Competition 2016 and the Confederation of Diversity and Equity 2016 are being hosted by McGill Engineering and thus also fall under the EUS VP External Portfolio. Over the summer, I worked on representation and discussed with the executives of the provincial and national engineering student federations. This lead to the creation of a new EUS director position which will be in charge of continuing the work. Furthermore, I stayed in contact with my committee chairs to make sure they had the necessary support and resources to accomplish their goals. For the coming year, my focus will be make the EUS VP External portfolio more relevant for students. This will be accomplished in three-folds. First, I will sensitize student leaders about the importance of CREIQ and CFES and explain the various benefits we can draw from these two student federations. Second, I will work with Departmental VP Externals, MESC and EUS clubs to develop a professional program (potential name: EUS Career Paths Program). This program will consolidate the resources currently available to students like industry tours and soft skills workshops while introducing new measures. Third, I will work
alongside MEC and EngGames to better promote their activities and generate more hype around their events.
MATTHEW OSBORNE INTERNAL
There is no better way to spend a summer than planning Frosh. This year, the Frosh Awakens proved to be the biggest and the best one yet! With over 512 incoming students participating in the event, the week ran very smoothly and with no major hitches. Our new initiative the park party - was a fantastic success, and we hope to see it continue and grow in upcoming years. The Frosh committee itself was an unforgettable experience; the twelve of us spent the previous four months nailing out every detail of Frosh. Also, we are all unbelievably grateful to all our leaders and O-Staff, whose dedication and enthusiasm for the event was immeasurable. My most memorable moment of
the entire summer came in the dying moments of Frosh 2015 at 3:00AM on Monday morning. Over 100 engineers and friends, clad in togas, continued to hold back from leaving the venue without hearing one more song.
We held three Summer Blues Pubs, hosted by the PPO, Frosh Committee, and the Engineering Games. Everything went as planned, including PPO s now infamous slip n slide, and fun was undoubtedly had by all. Additionally, our kitchen do-over is nearing completion, and it looks pretty snazzy if I may say so myself. The Engineering Adventure Committee organised a very successful trip to the Saint-Sauveur water park, and are looking to continue their awesome events this semester!
CHRIS SARLOS SERVICES
Over the summer I was involved with Frosh, so unfortunately I wasn t able to give my full atten-
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tion to services projects. None the less here s what I did. I worked with Marc [VP Academic --Ed.] to repurpose Infosys into a new student meeting space for committees. Smaller projects include reordering more locks. We unfortunately ran out of locks which is somewhat ridiculous given that it s an essential student service. Also I rewrote the hiring forms for services to make them more relevant to the EUS today. From the Services stand point, I looked over all the pricing since they ve haven t been raised, in a while. Frostbite decided to raise prices slightly, but don t worry there s still toonie Tuesday and we still have the “free ice cream if you fail a midterm” policy. G-Store luckily stayed the same and CopiEUS raised only poster prices. Frostbite also launched their website (which is beautiful by the way, check it out) and CopiEUS is already having a great start to the year with over 3 new course packs which is great news as it really raises profitability.
JOIN THE LEDGER TODAY! AVAILABLE POSITIONS: Artists Editors Writers
The Plumber’s Ledger
It s September, and your Facebook wall has probably already been inundated by photos from your friends who travelled during the summer, who have end-
less stories of food, people, scenery, and happy-ending Thai massages. I too got to do some travelling this summer, but I want to share with you something different. One of the best parts of travel is observing the little differences between your culture and others around the world, and in my case, I was fascinated by the differences between how we drive and how they drive elsewhere. If you have a driver s licence, I think you ll find some of these peculiarities interesting!
Presumably, the water bottle shrines are intended to avoid Another thing you are liable to see the building of Red Shrines. Red on the roads are shrines. There are shrines mark the sites of fatal actwo main types: the Water-Bottle cidents, and are marked by red Shrines, and the Red Shrines (or ribbons, usually on tree branchat least, that s what I call them). es, with red benches, tables, and The Water Bottle shrines appear other structures. They are humat seemingly random points ble shrines, and do not gave obalong the highway. You will see vious indications of who the viclittle doghouse-sized memori- tim was â€“ they are just haunting als to the Virgin Mary, complete memorials, that take on an eerie with candles and thousands and beauty when you drive past them thousands of half-full 2 L bottles in a desert. piled everywhere. Truckers drop off these bottles to the Virgin for good luck on the road.
If you like Cuba s old cars, add rural Argentina to your travel list. Renault hatchbacks and Mercedes transports from the 80s, Ford and Chevy pickups from the 60s and 70s, and all manner of jalopies are the norm in Argentina. When you don t have a lot of money, it s simply cheaper to repair and replace! 7
Typical Argentinian Red Shrine
together near the slower part of the road (see diagram).
Water Bottle Shrine Argentinian intersections
When you drive in an Argentinian city, like Salta or Mendoza, you are liable to get yourself into an accident within a few minutes, because many intersections simply have no signage. Should you stop, slow down, or blow through? You might expect that you have an implied yield if you are on a small street that intersects a large one, but in many cases the interesting streets are of similar size. The rule of thumb is to slow down when in doubt. You don t want to be broad-sided by a bus or transport, which generally DO NOT slow down at intersections. The bigger vehicle has the right of way!
Surprisingly though, this chaos really relieves congestion. Vehicles take turns at intersections, and because they usually don t need to come to a dead stop, heavy traffic flows smoothly. There was slow-but-fluid traffic in areas that would have been absolute gridlock in Canada! Argentinian speed lines
Argentinians have a great way of making sure you don t forget when the speed limit changes. In addition to the usual speed limit signs, they also have thin white lines across the roads at points where speed changes occur. They are further apart near the faster part of the road, and get closer The Plumber’s Ledger
They make a light bumping sound as you go over them, and if you don t change your speed, the spacing will cause the thumping rate to increase as you enter a slow zone, and vice-versa as you enter the fast zone. If you are decelerating or accelerating properly though, the thumping sound will be at a constant beat. It s an ingenious passive method for making sure you don t forget about a new limit!
We couldn t do this in Canada of course, since snow plows would tear up the strips. But we might be able to give it a shot by making grooves in the road!
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may or may not have an obstacle in front of it. But often there is nothing at all, except for a Chilean guy who walks into the middle of the road and laughs at you when you have already made the wrong choice.
Ultimately, to tell which way a street goes in Chile, your best bet is to look down the street, and look which ways the cars are parked. I became so reliant on this method that I instinctively used it when I visited Toronto, and ended up skipping some 2-way streets that simply had
In ‘Nam, there are no official rules of the road, best I could tell. VirChilean 1-ways tually everyone drives a motorcycle, and the streets are teemNo, a Chilean 1-way is not what ing with them. We aren t talking an engineering student in Santi- Harleys and Hayabusas though ago does on a Friday night. I m – for the most part they are just talking about 1-way streets. In a step better than mopeds, and older towns, there are plenty of seldom go past 60. On these lit1-way streets, and it is often a tle bikes, it s not uncommon to labyrinth to get from one place see a family of 4, with the father to another, even with a GPS. It s riding, the mother in the back, like a more extreme version of a kid between them, and a kid Montreal. But unlike Montreal, up front. You also see them with there is often no signage indi- massive loads strapped on, of all cating the street is 1-way. If you sorts of variety, dwarfing the bike are lucky, you will have a faded and rider. arrow painted on the corner of a building at an intersection, which The chaotic appearance of these 8
bikes is surpassed by their cha- back in ahead of oncoming trafotic behaviour. At intersections in fic, or the vehicles will spread out Hanoi, it s just a mess of vehicles so that the highway effectively weaving in and out. Your objec- becomes 3 lanes, allowing all 3 tive as a rider is to keep your eyes to pass simultaneously. No wonin front, avoid obstacles, and just der the rate of highway fatalities go. As a pedestrian, this makes in â€˜Nam is 900% of what it is in street crossing easy. Though you Canada. are confronted by an unending mass of bikes, you can simply stroll across at any point, and they will swerve around you. The only thing to be worried about is if you see a tourist on one of them! Intersection in Hanoi, Vietnam Vietnamese bus drivers
Almost everyone has a bike in Vietnam, but there are some larger vehicles, like busses and dump trucks. Like motorcycles, anything goes for these vehicles. Riding the bus, you are liable to hear the driver pressing on the horn every 5-10 seconds, to alert other drivers of his presence. He is not going to slow down. Motorcyclists are expected to get to the side, because bigger vehicles have the de facto right of way, just like the lion gets first dibs at the watering hole. You see a terrifying spectacle when these large vehicles pass each other on the highway. It does not matter if there is a blind corner, or even if there is another large vehicle approaching just a bit ahead. The bus you are on will honk to make its presence known, and it will either narrowly merge 9
Like Vietnam, Cambodia has a strong motorcycle culture. One thing you will notice as you take a ride in a tuk tuk (a sort of motorcycle carriage), is that many of the road-side shops will be selling bottles of Johnnie Walker Red (or similar spirit) filled with a yellow liquid. You ll wonder about this until your driver pulls over and gives a few Riel to the woman in the shop, who will then proceed to empty the Johhny Walker bottle into the motorcycle. Turns out that engineers and tuk tuks run on the same stuff!
Of all the places I travelled this summer, the country of Alberta (my new home) has the strangest driving culture of all. Unlike free-spirited Quebecois and Ontarians, Albertans are slow and timid, because the spirit has been beaten out of them by the draconian traffic enforcement in the province. Everywhere you go, the streets are plastered with warnings about the speed cams and red light cams. The cameras are everywhere, at practically every intersection, just waiting for you go through that yellow light just a bit too late, or accidentally accelerate to 76 in a 70 zone. Human enforces are too soft, so Skynet reigns over the western provinces and micromanages your every move. Take me back to Argentina and â€˜Nam, where the roads are free, and driving is a pleasure!
Cambodian Fill-Up Picture Credits (in order of appearance):
 http://www.buffalogov.org/files/Images/ highway4.JPG  http://familyonbikes.org/educate/lessons/pics/gauchito_gil/05.jpg  http://subagonsouth.com/wp-content/ uploads/2015/02/IMG_4036.jpg , ,  David Bailey
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THE (TERMINATED) SEARCH FOR THE ORIGINS OF THE PLUMBER PART I (OF III): PLUMBING THE DEPTHS
by Daniel Gelaf One year ago today (or not exactly, but it s more dramatic that way), this
day, one year later (or close enough—you get the point), we terminate our search. It tends to be assumed that “the plumbers” refers to the cloacinal sciences and sewers. This impression is not unfounded, and a fair bit of McGill engineering culture has been built up around this meaning, from the title of McGill s humor magazine, the Plumber s Faucet (not to mention its esteemed forebear, the Plumber s Pot), to the toilet bowls mentioned in ‘The Search for the Origins of the Plumber that were associated with the PPO and McGill engineers since time immemorial (about 1950, if the legends are to be believed).
It s very tempting to make the connection with the long-established preexisting nickname for the engineers: the Boilermakers. The nickname s use is well-documented in the decades leadThe Plumber’s Ledger
ter and pipes, however, very few engineers actually do anything that could really be called “plumbing”. When the term came to be, it referred to what was at the time only the Faculty of Science, and later to what was spun off as Applied Science, but which is now known as the Faculty of Engineering.
Instead of pipes, monkey wrenches, and cleavage on the wrong end, the “plumbing” done by engineers Is this Based on a Lie? more likely refers to plumb ing up to the emergence of the lines and plumb bobs, i.e., Plumbers and was well covered plumbing to find the level, as was in this article s predecessor [You done before the advent of bubcan find it on our website and in ble levelers and lasers. Certainly this year s Frosh Issue—Ed.]. Ulti- this tool is much more consistent mately however, the article drew with the genuine activities of enno conclusions about the term s gineers than is the other type of origin. Certainly the similarity is plumbing. evident in that both involve wa10
The McGill engineering campus, pictured here as it appeared at the turn of the 20th century, the last time it was not totally obscured by construction scaffolding.
More evidence for this interpretation stems from the use of the moniker and related terms outside of McGill. Much of the difficulty in researching this linguistic history is due to how extremely narrow the scope is: The nickname “plumbers” for engineers seems to be used only at McGill University. However, a handful of exceptions provide some insight into the term s history and meaning. The name of McMaster University s undergraduate engineering society (MES) s humoristic publication also has its roots in this term: it is called The Plumbline. Established in 1967, like the Faucet and the Pot before it, it began in a much briefer format (in this case, a one-page newsletter) and completely devoid of actual humor, only evolving (devolving?) into satire in later decades. 11
We believe that engineers are called plummers because of the deep rooted military past… Allow us to elaborate. Most engineering in the day was done by military engineers (cheap labour, right?). Now, have you ever wondered why they used Plum bobs and everything they built was ‘just plum.’ Well, this is because the general at the time, Gen. (and noted Professor) Plum invented said engineering instrument and damn did it work good. This is also why engineers are purple, the colour of the Plum. Hence, this is why engineers have forever been blessed with the moniker, PLUMMERS!!
Now, as a minor clarification to the above explanation, I should mention that it is entirely and completely incorrect in every way. As inventive an etymology as this is, it is false. The words ‘plumber and ‘plumb line both derive from the Latin plumbum, meaning ‘lead (compare Pb, lead s atomic symbol). It is quite funny though. Interestingly enough, while the expression ‘just plum is incidental to and far predates our concern, and that Professor Plum is not to be found outside of a Cluedo set and has not been seen since he murdered John Boddy in the kitchen with the lead pipe (okay, so maybe he was familiar enough with plumbing), the bit about plumb bobs (as they are properly spelt) is probably on the right track.
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT ISSUE!
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By Frederick Chagnon It s 1:37am. There s a party in the apartment below. The semi-regular beat of the music is keeping awake. I hear them talking and laughing and generally having a great
time. I hate them. I am laying down in the darkness of my room. The apartment is empty. My roommates left for a party of their own. They didn t bother asking if I wanted to go. I m sure there ll be plenty of people that I know there. I guess I m just bad company. Loneliness weighs heavily on my shoulder this Friday night. A new school year is beginning, but there s no one to celebrate with. I don t know what my friends are doing. We ve drifted apart lately. I guess when life is pulling everyone in different directions, there isn t much to talk about. “How s work/school?” only brings you so far. I wonder if they re also trying to fall asleep right now wondering how they got to that point. Maybe we re all too afraid of rejection to pick up the phone. Speaking of which, the flashing light tells me there s a notification. Local Sports Team #2 lost. Obviously. The music is still booming, and it s impossible to sleep. What is wrong with these people? Don t they realize there are other people in the block who happen to want to sleep and have no desire to get lung cancer? I turn on the light on The Plumber’s Ledger
my bedside table. It takes a brief moment for my eyes to get accustomed to the sudden brightness.
I get out of bed and put on some pants and a shirt. I pick up my keys from the “Miscellaneous Bowl” and exit my room. I pass in front the mirror without looking at my reflection. I don t need to. I know what I ll find and have no desire to face it. My phone stays on the table. Maybe the notification is flashing again. Maybe not. Right now, I don t care. Whoever wanted to talk to me had the last 4 months to do so. I open the front door and step outside.
wonder where they are going. Where did they come from? What leads them to the streets at this hour? Their stories are probably a lot more interesting than mine.
I reach the end of the staircase and trip on a loose slab. I really need to get the landlord to fix this. Someone s going to get hurt one of these days. I have no idea where I am going, but I start walking anyway. The starless night accompanies me as I go down the empty street. The moon is hiding behind a thick cloud. The downtown lights shine like a beacon, calling me. Maybe that s why I find myself I hadn t realized how hot it was going that way. I pass by a group inside until now. There s a cold of girls on the way there. One of breeze that is most welcomed. I them is throwing up while her feel like I can breathe for the first friend is holding up her hair. The time in a long time. The night s other three are on their phone, silence is broken only by a few oblivious to everything around cars and the even rarer bike. I them. I keep going. 12
I hear some shouting further down. The noise comes from an alley where two guys are fighting. Someone is screaming “Worldstar” as he pulls out his phone. I m not sure if I m not sure what makes me madder. The fact the fight is recorded in portrait mode, or whether I m mad because he prefers filming it instead of breaking it off. I keep going. Maybe I m as guilty as he is. A homeless person asks for money. He s holding a cardboard sign with a witty message. I don t remember what it said, and I don t give him anything. I lie and say that I left my wallet at home. I keep going.
There s a party in the next apartment block. I can hear the music booming. A bunch of people are smoking outside what are most definitely not cigarettes. Im not quite sure where I am, but I keep going. A taxi pulls up. The driver, hopeful to get a fare, asks where I am going. I wave her off. I guess I m not the only one having a bad night.
I try to check the time, but remember that I left my phone at home. I peek and see that there s a night bus coming. I can t see which one it is, but decide to take it anyway. When it stops, the clouds move and some tame moonlight shines through. The doors open up creaking. Without saying anything, I swipe my card and sit down like I ve done a million times before. I didn t get a good look, but the driver looks sickeningly thin. His long bony fingers reach out and close the door. 13
I look around and the bus is completely empty except for one black girl sitting at the back. I vaguely remember her as one of the girls on their phones while her friend was throwing up. I wonder what happened to her friends and why she decided to sit all the way to the back? I mean, it s arguably the worst seat in the entire bus. I don t say anything and sit at the front. The bus resumes its journey to its mysterious destination.
A few minutes in, I look at my travelling companion. Her headphones are getting lost in her puffy natural hair on one side. Her hair is braided in corn rows above the other ear. I wonder what she s listening to. I don t have my iPod, but I feel like some Earl Sweatshirt would be good right about now. That s where my mood is at. She s barely wearing any makeup. Or maybe she s wearing a lot of makeup to look like she isn t. The intricacies of it all have always eluded me. Her heels are in the seat next to her. Is she also looking and analyzing me? Is she seeing the same person I see when I look in the mirror? I interrupt my reverie and stare outside the bus s window. It s all misted up and I can hear heavy rain hitting the pavement. Weird. I know it was cloudy, but I figured it wouldn t rain until the morning at the earliest. I try to wipe it to see outside, but as soon as I am done, the window starts to frost. Now THAT is not normal. I look around and all the windows are frosting. She doesn t seem to have noticed. The temperature inside is still the same however.
I stand up and go check on the driver. The driver s gone. The bus is driving itself. The steering wheel is turning left and right, avoiding obstacles I can t see. The front window is also entirely covered in frost. I peak at the accelerometer and we re going faster and faster. The engine s temperature gage is almost all the way up. Already it s in the “Danger Zone”. Shit. That s not good. I sit down and try to breathe. I must have cursed at life, because I feel a hand on my shoulder. I nervously look back. It s the other passenger. “What the hell is happening?” Her voice is deeper than I expected. There s a hint of an accent I can t place. Nigeria, maybe? I don t focus on it too much. I have bigger issues at hand. Or rather a bus to stop.
“Where s the driver?” “The driver s gone.” “What do you mean ‘gone ?” “Tell me if you found him. We need to stop this bus. The engine is about to overheat.” “Hold on.” She kneels down and ripped through the main console. With great difficulty, she pulled out a handful of wires.
“That should do it,” she says as she s standing up. It obviously did since the engine shuts down almost immediately. There was still a bit of a problem. “Why is the bus not slowing down?”
She doesn t get to finish her thought. A bright flash of light
illuminate the entire bus. The came in that s for sure. The air is light could have come from in- neither cool nor hot. The temside the bus for all I know. perature is actually perfect. When I wake up, the bus has stopped moving. It s awfully quiet. I have absolutely no idea what just happened and how long I was out. I stand on my elbows, my head still pounding, and look around. The windows aren t frosted anymore and there s no light coming in. It must still be night time. I m also alone. Where did the girl go? With great difficulty, I stand up. The door is already opened. I smell a fire. That s probably not good. I ran outside as fast as I can. “Well, look who finally decided to wake up.” She s sitting on a tree trunk in front of a bonfire. “How long was I out?” My mouth is completely dried up. “No idea. My phone died as soon as we got here.” “And where s ‘here ?” “Your guess is as good as mine. It sure ain t the city,” she said waving her arm.
“So I m guessing you have no idea what happened last night either?” I ask. “Not the slightest clue.” “I should have stayed in.” “Yeah, well I guess we re in this together now. We better find a plan.” Silence started to grow between us. “Hey, is your iPod still working? This silence is giving me the creeps.” She turns it on and the first notes of Grief come on. “Ah, that s funny. I was just thinking how I would have listened to Earl last night if I had brought out my own iPod.” We start talking about our common music interests, for a time forgetting about the situation we were in. It feels good to bring some sense of normalcy to this whole thing.
“Shhh,” Chanell interrupts me as I was explaining how Mac Miller is no longer absolutely terThe full moon and the stars are rible. Rude. “Do you hear that?” shining brightly over our heads. “Hear what?” We re in a clearing and sur“Shut up, and listen.” rounded by trees unlike anything I have ever seen. Their trunks are I pay attention and hear sometwisting in strange shapes and one, or rather something walking the leaves are completely for- on leaves and twigs. She signals eign. The night isn t as quiet as me to shut up and we hide beI thought it was. The air is filled hind the bus. The noises stop. with plenty of animal noises and We can t see 3 feet in front of us. birds chirping. I can also hear a We turn around to look at each powerful river nearby. There s a other, when we both screamed mountain to our backs. The bus in horror and surprise. A smallisn t looking too good. The hull ish creature stands in front of us. is darkened and the tires are flat. He roughly looks like a cartoon We won t leave the same way we monkey with orange fur. Except The Plumber’s Ledger
Volume 4, Issue 1
he has a human figure and is wearing clothes that would have been fashionable in 17th Century England.
“Apologies for startling thee fellows. It was never part of my intentions. Pardon me for missing introductions. Robin Goodfellow is the name, at your service. You may call me Puck for convenience.” The strange little creature bowed down to salute us.
“Uh… Thanks?” I reply, really confused about this whole situation. “Wait a minute… Puck? Like in the Shakespeare play?” interjects Chanell. “The very same, how s this old chap doing?” “He s been dead for 400 years,” I say, not believing what my eyes are seeing. “Wait a minute, you re not actually Puck , are you? I mean it s impossible, fairies don t exist,” said Chanell. “Impossible? Don t thou knowst where thou art?” And that s the story of how Chanell and I ended up in the Kingdom of Fairies. Next issue, we’ll get Chanell’s side of the story and maybe shed some light on those Fairies! You don’t want to miss it! Photo Credits: