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Lodging in Ottawa

October 22nd, 2011

People often ask me, “Where do you sleep at night? Do you sleep in your car?”  Really — those questions are almost always paired.  Is the rest of the world obsessed with the notion of sleeping in cars?

Anyhow, the answer is that I spread my nights among motels, tent camping, couch surfing, and yes, that one time I tried sleeping in a car.  But that doesn’t really tell you much.  The real challenge is finding places to stay.  So it was with Ottawa.

“Do you have a place to stay in Ottawa?” Steve asked as he opened the car door.

“Not yet,” I said.

I was giving Steve a ride back to his house in Toronto.  It was the night before my Canada AM interview, and we had just got done celebrating a win with Steve’s hockey team at one of his teammate’s restaurants.  Steve was the normal goalie for the Pylons, but he skated out to give me the net.

We pulled up to his house.  Steve hopped out and grabbed his bag from Sam’s back seat.  He paused and said, “I might have a spot for you in Ottawa.  Give me 30 minutes.  Watch for an email.”

I thanked him and said goodbye.  Even though Steve had come through with the Hockey Hall of Fame Resource Centre tour and the hockey game, I was somewhat skeptical that he could find me a place to stay in Ottawa on such short notice.  I would be there the next day.

Any doubts were quickly put to rest.

The next evening, 250 miles to the northeast of Toronto, I showed up in Ottawa at Steve’s aunt Carol’s house.  I had never met Carol before. Mind you, I had met Steve in person only a day earlier.  I knew nothing about Carol and had absolutely no idea what to expect.  Likewise, Carol knew almost nothing about me.

A maple-butter beavertail, minus a bite. Beavertails are often associated with Ottawa, ON. They are delicious and have nothing to do with finding lodging.

There was a great deal of uncertainty on both sides, so Carol heated up the kettle and we chatted over tea.

Carol was in her 60s, but had she not revealed that, I would have thought her not a day over 50.  She was fit, upbeat, and not in any way pretentious.  After talking with her for an hour, I felt as at ease with her as with one of my own aunts.

Her day job was as a profiler for a bank, which I understood to mean that she was involved with vetting deals that the bank might make.  Somehow, that also involved her in diplomatic circles, but that might have simply been a function of her location in Ottawa, Canada’s capital.

As we drank tea — full leaf, prepared in a proper teapot — I asked her how it was that she agreed to host me for the night.  She laughed and smiled, going into the story.

“Steve has always been one of my favorite nephews.  He sent me a text last night asking if one of our family members was in town, since that person often stays at my house when he’s visiting.  I replied back that no, he wasn’t going to behere for a few days.  Steve quickly responded, ‘Great,’ and then immediately called me.”  She took another sip of tea before continuing.

“On the phone, Steve told me that you needed a place to stay for the night in Ottawa, and he asked if I might be able to host you.  I could hear Steve’s girlfriend in the background protesting that he didn’t know you well enough to be making that kind of request.  Something about how the two of you had met for the first time only earlier that day, and how you could be a serial killer or crazy or something.  Nevertheless, Steve ignored her protestations and insisted that you were a good guy and that I would like you.”

I laughed.  “I had similar reservations, since I had no idea who you were or what you were like,” I said. “I just decided to trust Steve.  After all, we’d played hockey together that night, and besides, he’s also a goalie.”

We talked for a while longer, but eventually I had to retire to bed.  I had to be at the CTV Ottawa studios early the next morning.  Carol showed me to the guest bedroom in her house and bade me goodnight.

My head hit the pillow, and seemingly immediately my alarm clock announced the arrival of morning.  I departed before Carol woke.

  1. Matt B
    October 23rd, 2011 at 17:20 | #1

    Sarah wants to commend you on a great choice of beavertail!

  2. Jeff
    October 23rd, 2011 at 21:29 | #2

    @Matt B Thanks! 🙂

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