Welcome to Yellowknife

and believe me, I NEED that Flak Jacket lately

and believe me, I NEED that Flak Jacket lately

Keep your shoes on. You’ll see why.

In Vancouver, when we go into someone’s house, we generally take our shoes off; it’s something we probably picked up from Asia, and for those of us who don’t enjoy vacuuming, which is all right-thinking people if you axe me, it makes a great deal of sense.

Not in Yellowknife.

Judging completely by my own experience, for I cannot judge by anyone else’s, not being anyone else (except for icecoaster) and thus not having had their experiences, I would say not only don’t take your shoes off, but you might want to keep that jacket handy as well, and not just because it’s getting chilly lately.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the history of my Great Yellowknife Adventure, here is some background which should fill you in, right up to the present moment. You may want to keep a sick bag handy as well; I don’t make up the facts, I just report them.

So…in Vancouver I live in a co-op, which is both extremely well-situated and extremely affordable, my earnings since I got sick last fall being of the minimal variety, and co-op rates being tied to income. When people ask why my earnings have been minimal, I explain that being self-employed and having to take several months off for health reasons, then, while recovering, jumping back into a market where social media trainers outnumber social media students by a ratio of about two to one is precisely what I believe Forbes defines as your basic “challenging business environment.” So, earnings being minimal, and Vancouver being somewhat less enchanting of late for various and sundry (although, alas, not tawdry; that would be more entertaining) reasons, I cast my eye abroad. Or along. Or above.

And ended up in Yellowknife. My friend Nancy, whom I met on Twitter, sent me a message that Kellett Communications was looking for a digital project manager. We chatted via Skype, they checked me out on LinkedIn, and after a few back and forths they came back and said they’d hired someone with more direct project management experience, but would I be interested in coming up and learning it while they built up the social media side? Well, given the chance to start basically the first social media agency in the NWT, I said Yes! Well duh, of COURSE I did. There’s nothing someone who’s good at something hates so much as not doing that thing, and god knows, I wasn’t doing it in Vancouver, but Yellowknife was like stepping back to, say 2002 in Vancouver in terms of social media: everything was just about to start happening. An awesome opportunity, and while I was up there, I could get involved with a nonprofit or even start my own, bringing the power of the digital revolution to remote communities just as I had to the homeless and the marginalized on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

I got a start date (which I managed to miss by a day: my own damn fault for not allowing enough time at the airport, yes, even at 5am) and a sublet; the sublet was amazingly handy. Four blocks from work, fully furnished, and (for Yellowknife) a good price. I should explain something: a good price for Yellowknife is approximately what a Yaletown condo would cost. This is not a place that one could describe as “reasonable” by any means. Or on any level: read on.

The sublet was courtesy of a commenter on Crasstalk, and she’d be gone from June through to the start of October, which was perfect, as I’d know by mid-September whether or not the job would be a go; after you’ve been self-employed since the last century, going back to working for someone else is a big adjustment, and so it proved. Over and over and over again, but more of that anon…

All was going swimmingly for a couple-three weeks, or as swimmingly as anything can go when it involves me waking up before the crack of noon, when I got an email from the woman from whom I was subletting: things weren’t working out down South, she was coming back. Hokay then: we briefly considered her subletting my co-op in Vancouver but:

  1. I’d left it in No Sublettable Condition, having recently taken delivery of a bunch of extra furniture I was supposed to sell (guess what I didn’t have time to put on Craigslist before I left?) and me being at the best of times no great housekeeper; when you add being seriously ill for a period of months and then in recovery from surgery, you have one epic hell of a messy apartment.
  2. My housing agreement (indeed, ALL co-op housing agreements) specifically outlaw subletting, to discourage profiteering.

So. Back she was coming and what was I going to do about it? Well, as it happens I stayed on the futon in her living room till, with Nancy‘s help, I found a shared house with a sympatico-seeming hippie type at a wicked good price for Yellowknife, and arranged to move in August 1. When we parted I said, “So, unless I hear something from you that everything’s gone sideways,” for lo, I am way cautious, verily dudes. For that carpet has been pulled out from my feet already here in YZF, as you can conclude from the above and if you can’t, take some smart pills and read it again, but where was I? Oh yes, “we’re on for the first of August, right?” She nodded and said, “right,” and we were in business.

Cut to August 1.

There I am, trundling up the walkway to the door. There Nancy is, leaning against her mother’s car, ready to help me with my things. And there the hippie is, walking out the door towards me with a shit-eating grin on her face…take it away, icecoaster:

Who YOU calling a tramp, buddy?

Who YOU calling a tramp, buddy?

Oh, guess what. Sorry I didn’t get back to you. I’ve been offline. Camping, actually. So you couldn’t have gotten in touch with me but, anyway, when I didn’t hear from you I just, you know, sort of figured I’d just go ahead and change my mind. Sorryyyyyy. So, yeah.


It’s a good thing I’ve been scouting out charities to volunteer for, because at least I am well-informed about homeless shelter options in Yellowknife.

Cut to August 2.

There I am, beavering away (does not mean what you think it means; you have a dirty mind. That’s why I like you) at Kellett, doggedly learning that Project Management isn’t my favorite thing in the world but oh well, it must be done. And there I am, doing it. Right there on the lunch table. Because I don’t really have a desk, but that’s another story; well, I have a desk, but it’s in the boardroom, which is down the stairs, down the sidewalk a couple of doors, up some other stairs, and down the hall, but that’s neither here nor there, not either desk which I have.

Make that had a desk.

I get an email from the boss: could I come and see him for about 15 minutes? Sure, of course I can; I may be newish to this “employment” thing, but if there’s one thing I know it’s when the boss says, “could you” you say YES. So I said Yes and was even on time when I got there and when I got there he laid me off.

“Not enough social media work, sorry.”

Imagine my joy.

And then he clarified that, no, he wouldn’t be getting me a ticket back to Vancouver.

Being efficient-like, I went back and packed up my lunch supplies and papers and such (although dammit, I did forget that fresh new case of mini-yogurts in the fridge, and when you’re homeless anything you don’t have to heat up is bonus points) and went back to the place I was couch-surfing until I found a house-sit, and emailed the co-op, figuring, not unreasonably, that they would revise their estimation of the housing charges.

No such luck: because I was employed on August 1 (the holiday) I had to pay over $700 for the Vancouver place. Which wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t also had to pay $1400 for the Yellowknife place in July. Between the two of them, my housing charges for the four weeks I was employed exceeded my net pay by a significant amount. And that’s why I can’t just buy my own ticket back to Vancouver.

Today I got an email that because they don’t yet have the ROE from Kellett proving that I was laid off, my housing charges for September are also over $700.

Ah, but there’s more, if you’re still with me. And if you’re not with me, you’re agin me, as old people with single tooths in their heads are wont to say. Why would anyone wont to say that, though? I ask yez.

So. Thanks again to Nancy, I got a really good house-sitting gig for most of August: handy to stores, three stories, jacuzzi, cushy sofa, big tv, lynxes walking down the driveway. Sweet. After that gig ended, the deal was, I stay with Nancy a few days, house-sitting while she was down South, and then on September 1 I crash on my friend’s futon; this was the place I’d originally sublet. She felt bad enough for me to let me crash there for a few weeks until I fly back to Vancouver on the 18th for Social Media Week.

Cut to today.

I open my email and there, in #000000 and #FFFFFF, it is: the email that says Sorry, you can’t stay here.

Indeed. Apparently I cannot.

But wait, I just thought of something...Teepee for me

But wait, I just thought of something...Teepee for me

31 thoughts on “Welcome to Yellowknife

  1. I just know something remarkable will work out!! I am so sorry to hear about all of this happening to you!! I hear Hollywood Movies calling for you! :)

  2. Thanks. IF I can get back down there: as I understand it, according to NWT law Kellett has to buy me a ticket back South, but we’ll see.

    I have several promising job leads, but none of them will make a decision before mid-September, at which time I’m hoping to be back in Vancouver. Then it becomes “oh god, do I want to go through THAT again?”

    I like Yellowknife, but I’m not sure I do.

  3. Sorry to hear of your troubles. Reminds of the time I moved countries to get married. That was a massive failure as well. Not THIS marriage, don’t get confused on me.

    I’ve never thought knives should be yellow anyway. Steel grey or metal or something.

    Even if you were closer, the best I could offer you would be an inflatable mattress, since I’ve gone from 1 to 6 of late.

    I hope everything starts to get better for you. I was once unemployed for 5 months and staying at my son’s place – I know what it is like to be fiscally challenged and homeless.

  4. Hey Raincoaster I can write a letter for you to give to them re plane ticket home…cause if it is covered in employment law for the NWT then not only will they have to pay you for the plane ticket home they will get a fine for not getting the ticket so in the long run bad press along with a financial fine may spur them to the correct action let me know.

  5. Holy hell! I know from experience it’s a bit wacked up there in the North sometimes, but really, this is beyond ridiculous. Here’s hoping the next few days (weeks) straighten out.

  6. So sorry to hear of your troubles, Raincoaster. I have to say, I didn’t think Yellowknife would work out (I just can’t picture you squeezing your tentacles into a parka and snowshoes), but this is a spectacular not-working-out. Hope things turn around!

  7. Thanks. As I said, I’ve got feelers out for several good jobs, but none of them will make a decision before mid-September, which doesn’t help me live through the next three weeks. I need:

    a) a place to stay
    b) a job
    c) a ticket to Vancouver. Even if I come straight back, I am still supposed to speak at two conferences in September: Social Media Week and Social Media and Government in Victoria. I don’t intend to blow them off.

  8. Thanks. I’m doing my best to look for work, house-sit gigs, sponsorship for the trip back to Vancouver (I’m paying rent on the place, might as well live there, eh?). So many balls in the air.

    I haven’t looked for support from agencies because I frankly thought something would come through before now. They have a helluva time filling job vacancies and, given their timelines, I can see why. Why can’t they just take my resume, say “dammit, we need someone now” and hire me? Why is it always a six week process?

  9. Troubles aside, I have no idea what you’re talking about with the shoes thing. I’ve not been in any house in Yellowknife where I (and the hosts) haven’t had our shoes off inside. Walking around the house with our shoes on? We’re not Americans!

  10. Bluey, thank you. I might get home in stages, riding shotgun on a truck or something, so who knows?

    John, that’s obviously the critical point to focus on here. Definitely. Mind you, I can’t really be cross with anyone who takes a cheap shot at Americans! It’s just a metaphor.

  11. It’s not a cheap shot at all. I’ve just thought wearing shoes inside was an American thing. I’m basing that solely (pardon the pun) on American TV, where most characters do.

    I clearly know it wasn’t the point of the post, but you did bring it up so I thought it wasn’t off limits.

    Didn’t get you were using it as a metaphor. Obviously.

  12. Raincoaster, I dont even know your first name but it doesn’t matter because I like you. you have a good vibe to you, I follow your tweets and life’s a party. Having been pretty damn near close to homeless once myself in 1994, someone gave me a break and look at me, almost sitting on top of the world. I don’t know how to help you but let it me known I’m putting it out there. If I can help you, please DM me @hotel_goddess and I’ll do what I can. Whether you believe in God, good luck or just karma, I’m thinking and praying for you. As corny as it sounds, don’t worry about this one, there’s definitely something better around the corner.

  13. John, no worries. Nothing is off-limits here, as you’ll see if you click around a bit. We’re just a little feisty is all.

    Actually, I grew up in Ontario and we kept our shoes on there unless it was winter, in which case we wore our boots and brought our fancy “indoor shoes.” American television mystified me, because they all wore their “indoor shoes” outdoors, like a bunch of weirdos.

    Angela, you are incredibly kind. I was talking with a friend today and he said that it’s all nice and all that I’m getting so much “you go girl” support, but what I really need is someone to solve my problem, and you up and solved it. You are wonderful and I cannot possibly thank you enough. You’re going to get the blog post of your LIFE once this is done.

  14. Being the ever practical, for eff’s sake, where’s the Paypal donate button?

    You know I wish you only the best and, being curmudgeonly, don’t expect me to break out singing that song from “Annie”. It ain’t gonna happen.

  15. Reading all these comments here and their offers of help and support, rain, I know you’ll land back in YVR on your feet and looking at your Yellowknife misadventure as just that. I hope Kill-it communications gets all the negative publicity it deserves over this. They should communicate their terms a little better in the hiring stage.

  16. Well, it never occurred to me that a) the co-op would double my rent and b) things would go sideways so fast. If a) had not occurred, I could have bought my own damn ticket back. And Bill Kellett’s many things, but stupid’s not one of them. Given the readership that I have (and he knows I have) it’s unlikely that he’ll just kick someone to the curb like this in the future. A $350 airline ticket would have been much, much cheaper.

  17. And Jennifer, you’re probably wise w/r/t the Paypal button, but it’s really not my style to go around hat in hand. It took me (as you can see) quite some time to work up to telling this story in the first place. The last incident was the one that left me with no alternatives.

    BUT if the internet stays up this time, I’m going to blog it all today: the story of how I seem to have a free ticket to Vancouver, a speaking gig there, another in Victoria, my co-op reduced my rent back to $330, a complete stranger sent me money via Twitter and Paypal, and it seems like I may have a place to live up here for the winter, rent-free.

  18. Good on yer, kid. If your luck matched your prose style you’d be loaded. It’s hard to believe that we’ve never met face to face. Your last post has some encouraging things in it and I hope the luck keeps up.

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