I'm an Aussie who moved to Ottawa, Canada in 2008. I'm always having a moan about something. This is where I moan and whinge about things. Enjoy.

Tuesday 20 October 2020


So I'm out on my motorcycle riding around, my first ride in almost a year, since I didn't renew my plate sticker in February, as I don't usually plan to do a lot of riding in Ottawa, in February. Then Covid. Then everything closed down. Then Service Ontario was open 2 days a week, with an approximately 9 hour wait time to do anything..

So I'm on a mission from gawd, err, I mean a mission to find a replacement alternator for a 2013 Toyota Sienna, which are apparently rarer than RVR rear windows. But that's another rant (stand by!).

I'm on my motorcycle, because my car currently looks like this:

while I am in the process of repairing the cracks in the front bumper, the same cracks that have been there for 18 months.

My only problem with driving it around like this is that I had to "make it unfit" in order for the insurance company to pay me anything (see other rants), so my understanding is that this makes the car unplated, and possibly uninsured, and I suspect I would get pulled over by the police if they saw me driving it around looking like that (still investigating to work out if I need to put all the crappy plastic back on anyway..)

While I was getting the car made unfit, figuring it would be a torturous 9 hour process, I figured that I might as well get something useful out of it, so I finally got around to renewing the plate sticker for the bike that's been expired since February..

Get to the point already, would you?!

This is what my motorcycling around looked like for the day:

I blurred out my buddy's address, I presume he doesn't want me advertising it on the internet, unlike me, who doesn't care if you know where I live.

Google timeline/location says I rode:

And the weather looked like:

And my Google timelime for the day, up to the relevant part, looks like:

After taking nearly half an hour to get 10km, I had to stop off at crappy tyre, because my cool looking thin leather Kawasaki branded motorcycle gloves just weren't working. First I couldn't feel my fingers, then they were hurting, and burning (frostbite?). It was 6C and raining.. So I spent $60 on a pair of snowmobile gloves. I was briefly tempted to buy some electric/heated gloves, but they only had mitts when I got there, so that helped with that decision.

Oh, and here's a couple of handy calculations for you:

This was a bust. The alternator had already been salvaged. I thought I found it, dumped inside the car, but it was the wrong model, for the wrong year, and was only 100A instead of 150A, and it was seized.

I thought I had some minor luck here. While the right year was gone, there was another one that was close, and I thought I could make it work. Wrong. I spent over an hour pulling it out anyway..

So, thinking I had the part I needed to fix my buddy's car, I told him I was on my way. Also that I was going to stop off for some breakfast on the way, as I had left the house in a hurry that morning, once I managed to start the bike for the first time in almost a year, trying to find the alternator and hoping to have already had it fitted by now, since he's trying to get to Tronna for his Dad's birthday the next day..

After a couple of minutes on the bike, I saw A&W (Amburgers & Woot Beer?), around the corner.

I figured I would go there for a change, and see if the "dining room" (dining is being generous when referring to fat, err, fast food) was open, or if I'd have to go through the drive through on my bike, again.

The last time I had to do that was over 12 years ago, when the Arby's..

No, I have never been that hungry.

in some stupid place in the middle of Michigan (somewhere like "Climax?") which was located next door to the motel I stayed in, when I was on my way to Council Bluffs, Iowa (we're all entitled to make some stupid decisions in life aren't we?), via Kalamazoo, had closed their "dining room" for the evening, and were only allowing drive through service.

Initially I just tried walking up to the window, but they told me I needed to have a vehicle to get service. I pointed out that I was riding a motorcycle. "Well that's a vehicle" or some other idiotic reply was given.

"Fine" I said. I walked the 20 metres or so over to where my bike was parked, got on it, with no helmet or gloves or anything, because they were in the motel room and I couldn't be bothered getting them, and why?

and rode it the approximately 3.5 seconds over to the drive through, where I then proceeded to yell my order at the speaker, over the sound of my bike's exhaust pipes, before balancing my bike while paying for my order at the window, being served my food, and then balancing 2 sandwiches and a cup of drink in my lap for the 3.5 seconds while I parked my bike again.

Anyway, I was just about to get off the bike, to try going into A&W, even though the place looked kind of funny, because there were cones blocking the drive through, and there was a key lockbox hanging on the door handle, but all the lights were on, and the menu screens were all lit up..

I figured I would have a quick look to see what was going on, even though this would mean the pain of taking off my helmet and gloves which were all wet and this makes them sticky and difficult to get on and off, not to mention how they then become cold and awful when you have to put them back on.

I had only managed to take one glove off, and the door of the place next door opened, and a guy stuck his head out, and asked "A&W?", "Yeah?" I asked, followed by me asking "closed?" at the same time he said "not open yet", at which point I saw that where he was inside was under construction.

"Ok, thanks mate!" I said, and put my one glove back on, and took off again. As I went past I noticed the giant "coming soon!" banner on the back wall, but I hadn't been looking there on my way in, I had been concentrating on the traffic in the car park, so as to not get murdered by some inattentive driver.

So, now we get to the point. Finally!

Almost 20 minutes later I saw McDonald's, and made the last second decision to go there. I cut across from the lane I was in, into the left turn lane, and then was able to turn into the plaza where McDonald's is located.

I pulled into a parking space, and was too busy looking at the 12 signs plastered all over the door trying to work out what was going on, with things like "masks required", and "lobby (or "dining" room?) open for takeaway only", amongst a bunch of other things, before I realised I had pulled into a space with a sign for it that it's a "phone your order in/online order/pickup only" spot etc, so I backed my bike out, moved it 2 spots over, and parked again.

I got off the bike, went inside. There are 4 self serve kiosks inside the door. 2 back to back. The 2 facing the counter are taped off, and say "please use back kiosks" or something. There's black and yellow tape on the floor showing where you are "allowed" to walk, I guess, to get around behind the kiosks to use the back ones.

I head around. The first one is busted, just showing a blue screen (but not a BSOD, disappointingly). The one on the right looks functional, but it's sitting in the middle of the order process, apparently abandoned.

I cancel the order to start again, and within a few seconds of trying to put in an order, I realise why, because the screen is being all erratic, scrolling and selecting things when I'm not even touching it.

I notice that there is someone, a girl, sitting eating a meal to my right, at the table just inside the door where I came in.

I walk away abandoning the screwy kiosk. I approach the counter. I put in my order for my food, and when asked what drink I would like, I say coffee, as it's now about 1:43PM, 7C outside, and the windchill of 80km/h at 7C is 0C, and I'm a bit cold since I've been riding in that, and been outside since I got my motorcycle started at around 9am.

The woman taking my order mumbled something into the plexiglass barrier between us. "Sorry?" I asked, putting my hand to my ear to indicate that I couldn't hear her. She repeated, louder, "just black, or?" I'll leave out any racist jokes here.

I reply "no, with cream and sugar please". "Ok", she acknowledges. Then she says "It's not working", pointing at the receipt printer facing me. Well, at least it matches the ordering kiosk.

I move over to wait in the general vicinity of the pickup area, where there is another guy waiting. He gets his food and leaves. I continue waiting. An employee comes out from behind the counter, carrying some food. I step back to increase the already more than sufficient social distancing, but it was also to indicate that I am mindful of that.

He goes outside, presumably to one of the pickup spots I had accidentally parked in for a few seconds before I realised, and moved. He comes back and goes back behind the counter. I continue waiting.

My food is served, and I pick it up. I started heading towards the door, to leave, as per the "take away only" sign I had seen on the door outside. I notice it is still raining out there. I am cold. I also notice the person who was sitting at the table next to the kiosk and the door is still there.

I go around behind the kiosks, to where the tables are. I move over to a table a good distance away from the girl who's still sitting there. I sit on the seat diagonally, facing away from the table. I put only my coffee on the table. I put the food bag in my lap.

I sit and eat my food, out of the bag, over/in my lap. After maybe 2 minutes, if that, when I have eaten all the fries, and half the burger, the employee who came out from behind the counter comes over to me, and tells me "sorry, we're not open for dine in. You can't eat in here".

"Can I not just have 30 seconds to finish my food?" I protest. "It's raining outside, and I'm on my bike, and I'm not touching the table.."

"No, sorry.." he says.

"That's a bit dirty" I reply.

"It's not my decision, and if my manager sees you, then I'll get in trouble.." he continues.

I stand up, and pick up my coffee off the table.

"I seriously can't just have a minute inside to finish my food?"

"No.. " he replies.

"Maybe it's not your decision, but it's still really dirty mate". I told him, as I turned and walked away and out the door, past the girl who is still sitting at the table.

I go stand next to my bike in the parking spot, in the rain, and put my coffee and the bag on the seat. I spend the next 30 seconds consuming the other half of the burger. Then I gulp down the entire tepid coffee.

While I am standing there, in the rain, pissed off, drinking my coffee, I briefly consider doing something crappy, like taking my garbage, which is just the paper bag, the cardboard box from the burger, the cardboard sleeve from the fries, the paper cup, the plastic coffee lid, and some napkins, and going into the airlock area between the doors to get into the lobby, and ripping the bag open and dumping it all over the floor for someone to have to pick up, but I decide against it, because that's not going to help the situation.

Instead, I just put the empty coffee cup in the paper bag. I scrunched it all up into a ball. Then I hoofed it at the brick wall as hard as I could, which isn't very hard, and this is also a paper ball we're talking about. It hits the wall with a "pff", and then falls down onto the top of the garbage bin.

I put my helmet and gloves on, and start my bike. The same employee comes out the door, he takes some food over to one of the pickup spots. On his way back, as he's about to go back inside, he turns to me and starts mumbling. I can't hear any of what he's saying, because I've got a helmet on, and I'm sitting on an idling, loud, motorcycle.

"Fuck you!" I tell the guy. He continues mumbling. I manage to make out something about "not my decision".

"You can fix this." I tell him. "Talk to your manager. Find a way to fix this. You could have let me sit there, in the corner, for a minute, to eat my burger. That was all I wanted".

He mumbles some more, I think I make out "sorry".

"Yeah, well, fix it". I reply.

I followed that up with "Sorry", because it maybe was unnecessary on my part to have sworn at the guy, and maybe he is just doing his job, and maybe he didn't want have to tell me to leave, but he still did. 

He didn't have the common sense to maybe make an exception and just let me sit there in the otherwise empty place, other than the girl who evidently had some sort of exception, until I finished my food?

He couldn't have gone and spoken to his manager and maybe said something like "There's a dude that looks like a drowned rat in a motorcycle jacket sitting eating his food, do we have to throw him out immediately, or can we let him sit there for a minute first?"

It's just crap.

How would they deal with a person in a wheelchair, or perhaps on a mobility scooter? Would they get thrown out to eat their food in the rain? Or would they have even been allowed inside in the first place, or perhaps made to go through the drive through instead?

Google timeline shows that I was there for all of seven whole earth minutes. In that time I had to attempt to order my food at the busted kiosk, give up and order at the counter, pay, wait while it was made, get it, start eating it, get thrown out, finish eating it, and leave. So it's hardly like I was loitering or anything.

Oh well, A&W will be open soon, and I doubt very much that they will throw me out to eat my food in the rain.

Oh, and for anyone who cares about the car/alternator story, I turned out that the alternator I spent an hour getting out wouldn't fit, so I took it back, to another yard, where they possibly had 2 alternators, except both were gone. They told me they might have one, in Montreal, or in Cornwall..

I gave up. We bought a rebuilt one, I went and picked it up. I spent the next six and a half hours standing, and lying on the ground, in the rain, swapping out the suspected failed one, only to have the new one not work.. which I eventually traced to being caused by a blown 10A fuse.

Toyota, in their infinite wisdom, piled things like the backup camera, hazard lights, navigation system, and the alternator charging system, along with some other random crap, all on the same single fuse. So in the process of replacing the head unit the day before, after undoing a huge hack job someone had done installing the last unit, and while there were 50 (almost, not a huge exaggeration) exposed wires hanging out of the dash everywhere, I must have accidentally shorted out something to do with the backup camera/nav system, which blew the fuse, and took the alternator offline, meaning there is most likely nothing wrong with the original alternator, and I spent almost 15 hours replacing it for nothing.

I got home at 11:53. My boots and all my clothes were completely saturated.

What a great day!


Since publishing this, I decided to reach out to McDonald's.