1 Fader || The Temper Trap
I might as well be in the Yukon.
Winter turns Montreal’s downtown core into a series of giant wind tunnels, icy air blowing in from the Fleuve St-Laurent and shooting up the streets to hit you like a slap in the face every time your path intersects with an eastward-facing intersection. Combined with a snowstorm like the one going on today, it feels more like I’m traversing the arctic, not walking to work in one of the most populated cities in Canada.
Most of my route runs along the RÉSO, the network of underground tunnels Montrealers burrow themselves into to get around downtown in the colder months, but I have to walk the last few blocks up on street level.
“Which wouldn’t be so bad,” I mutter to myself, hoping my breath will help warm my face where it’s already buried under a scarf, “if there wasn’t a pile of FUCKING SNOW stuck down the side of my FUCKING BOOT and freezing my WHOLE FUCKING LEG OFF.”
I swear a lot when I’m cold.
When I finally make it into the lobby of my building, I have to take a few minutes to unravel enough layers that I no longer look like a walking, talking, profanity-spewing snowball. I pull my fogged up glasses off and wipe them on my scarf.
After an elevator ride during which the thaw begins and my boots start dripping all over the salt-stained carpet, I walk into the office of the Montreal newspaper La Gare. I reluctantly peel off the rest of my outdoor stuff before swapping my boots for the pair of Keds I keep in my cubby. That’s a Canadian winter for you: an office full of grown adults has a cubby shelf to hold all our indoor shoes.
I wave to a few people on my way to my desk but don’t say anything. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t manage more than grumbling, “Fuck everything,” if I did. I’m just starting up my computer when an arm reaches over my shoulder to place a steaming takeaway cup down on my desk.
“Comment ça va, princesse de la neige?” asks Pierre, stepping away to set his own cup down on his desk a few feet away.
‘What’s up, Snow Princess?’ is a typical greeting from him. I respond with one of my own.
He just laughs, popping the lid off his coffee to blow on it before taking a sip.
“Ah, ben là, you Torontonians are so soft,” he chuckles. “It’s not even that cold today. You should be used to it by now.”
“First off, I’m from Hamilton, not Toronto. Different city. Secondly, just because I’m used to it doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it.”
“A few months ago you told me you like the cold.”
“I told you I like the crisp air of autumn. There’s a difference.”
Pierre pulls his chair out and takes a seat.
“Torontonian,” he teases.
“Hamiltonian,” I insist.
I pry my cup open and the sugary scent of French vanilla wafts up to meet me. I have an unfortunate weakness for girly drinks when it comes to coffee.
“Thanks, by the way.”
I lift the drink up towards Pierre and we mime clinking our cups together before settling down to work.
Pierre has grown to fill the role of my Work Husband in the five months I’ve been at La Gare. He likes to deny it, but the bald patch creeping up the back of his head proves he’s about ten years older than me. I’ll admit he’s going to be a total silver fox one day, but things have only ever been platonic between us. We bonded as much over the fact that our desks are right beside each other as we did over being the only people here under forty-five.
La Gare is one of those newspapers you get for free out of stands next to bus stops or from the hands of someone in a vest aggressively thrusting a copy at you as you make a mad dash for the Metro. I don’t think they’ve updated their logo or their office decor since the 1980s, and I’m pretty sure most of the staff has been here that long too. It’s not exactly the pinnacle of journalistic achievement to be writing for them and the pay is absolute shit, but I’m lucky to have gotten it after losing my last job.
I write the Arts and Culture section. Pierre told me it took my predecessor literally dying of old age before they decided to hire someone new. Monday to Friday, I have a page to fill at the back of the paper.
I spend the next hour gathering some research before Marie-France, our chief editor, marches over to my desk. She’s short and squat and has a habit of wearing Hillary Clinton-esque pantsuits.
“Kay,” she begins, “I have quelque chose for you. It’s an interview. I scheduled you to meet with Ace Turner today.”
I blink at her. “And Ace Turner is...?”
“Vraiement, Kay?” Pierre butts in. “Even I know who Ace Turner is, and I’m not even a music freak like you. He’s the front man for Sherbrooke Station.”
“Ugh, them?” I groan, turning back to Marie-France. “Do I have to?”
I see her fight to keep the smile off her pursed lips.
“Ouais, Kay. You have to. I emailed you the details. It’s at seven.”
She struts away, swinging her arms like a drill-sergeant as she goes.
“Awesome,” I mutter to myself. “That’s really convenient timing. Let’s just extend Kay’s work day for as long as possible, why don’t we?”
“If you wanted a nine to five job, you really picked the wrong field,” Pierre chides.
“I have another interview at eight in the morning tomorrow,” I shoot back. “I don’t want to spend my evening listening to the latest Tumblr craze give me a few half-assed answers I could have predicted myself. It already takes me almost an hour to get back to fucking Verdun every night.”
“Well that’s your fault for living in fucking Verdun.”
I glare at him. “How does Marie-France even know who Sherbrooke Station is?”
“Everyone in Montreal knows who Sherbrooke Station is. What do you have against them, anyways? I think they’re pretty good.”
I stare out the window at the snowflakes getting pulverized by drafts of frigid air, trying to come up with an explanation for why I can’t stand the band nobody seems to be able to stop talking about.
“They seem so...synthetic,” I attempt. “It’s like Atlas Records decided to just pull a band together based on the current trends in male sexiness. It’s like they’re too cool, you know? It just bugs me.”
Pierre stares at me like I’m crazy and I don’t blame him. I can’t deny their songs are good, for now at least, but experience shows that anyone who signs with Atlas is usually on the brink of selling out and losing any trace of originality.
I could be biased, given my history with the record label, but something about the dishevelled haircuts and sculpted, tattooed arms of the absurdly hot guys who make up Sherbrooke Station still pisses me off whenever I see them pop up in my news feed.
“Her name was Alexandra but I met her in Sofia...”
“Oh my god, Pierre, please no.”
It’s no use. He spends the next five minutes humming the tune of their hit song ‘Sofia’ as I throw balled up sticky notes at him from my desk.