Any day that begins with an old man telling me off for asking a lame question is bound to be memorable. Add to that the fun of wading through the creek in Crescent Park in my clothes — multiple times — and you’ve got a day I’ll never forget.
But I wouldn’t realize the true significance of March 15, 2012 until much later.
I was a week into my employment at the Times-Herald when I arrived at work Thursday morning, where I learned I’d be covering the weather beat that day.
My first task was a “streeter.” I had to talk to six people and ask if they were glad to see winter ending early. I went to Crescent Park, but the first man I approached had no time for idle chatter.
“What kind of question is that?” he barked. “What a waste of time ... Come talk to me when you’ve got a decent question to ask.”
While he ambled off to accomplish something important, I collected myself and moved along, finding a woman seated on a bench, reading while geese sat along the nearby creek.
She was a Swiss tourist and couldn’t comment on the weather, but agreed to let me take a picture of her and the geese. To fit everything into the frame, I had to cross the creek.
With my notepad tucked under my arm, I looked for somewhere to cross. Then I spotted a pipe running down the middle of the creek.
“Ah,” I thought. “If I reach that pipe, I can make it across in two jumps.”
The pipe was merely floating on the surface, and I found myself up to my knees in water. My ego in tatters, I scrambled across.
I couldn’t get the shot I wanted. I found a small island and, since my pants were already soaked, walked across. After taking several shots, I went back into the creek.
This time, I stepped in a hole. Now I was drenched up to my waist. And when I retrieved my bag, my notepad was gone.
A search turned up nothing. I took down the tourist’s name again and decided to walk home and change. The whole morning had passed, and I had achieved so little.
With fresh pants, jacket and shoes, I returned to work to interview meteorologist Patrick Cool. Predictably, I made a lame joke about his name, the kind you regret before you’ve even said it.
Then I started my streeter from scratch. Among the six people I interviewed was a pleasant young lady I met outside the post office. Unbeknownst to me, it was her birthday. She was enjoying the warm weather.
We chatted briefly. Then I took her picture and went off to find my next victim. It was a short encounter, but I met her again a few weeks later when I stopped by Joe's Place, the youth centre where she works.
I learned we had friends in common. Then I ran into her at a yard sale, at an Easter dinner hosted by friends of ours, at a young adults church service, and at more Joe’s Place events.
We started dating in June. Things progressed quickly: she met my parents when they visited Moose Jaw in July, and I met her parents at Christmas, proposing to her just days later. As of today, our wedding is 47 days away.
March 15 was quite a day — likely the most embarrassing day of my whole career. But to my surprise, it was also a special day, one I’ll always happily remember.
Happy belated birthday, honey.
Joel van der Veen can be reached at 306-691-1256.