Sunday, May 01, 2005

Times when you wish you'd had a camera...

I was at a conference this weekend in Toronto called The Naked Communicator." A provocative title, no doubt, but not what you're probably thinking.

No, it was a bunch of fellow IABC'ers (the International Association of Business Communicators) and we were talking about the need for trust and transparency in today's business communications. Very hot stuff, don't you know?

If you're interested, the incoming chair of the IABC, Warren Bickford (who hails from my home town of Regina) has written a good summary on the IABC Cafe or the Chairman's blog, as it's known. So check it out for a summary of what went on.

But what I really wanted to tell you was about a short walk I took down Yonge St, just like Ian Tyson did many years ago. I was taking a short break from the conference, which was being held at the historic Arts and Letters Club on Elm St. It's a truly fascinating place, as you can read about on their website.

I had stopped for a coffee at a pizza place on the Yonge St. Strip, when these four guys walked in. They were about 20 years old and dressed in matching black jackets, pants and ball caps. I figured they were with a sports team visiting the city or something like that. But something about the way the servers behind the counter were staring at them caught my attention. Something was up, and when they paid for their slices and turned around, I could see what.

They were identical quadruplets. Like peas in a pod, you might say. I've never seen anything like it, and judging from the way that conversation ceased in the busy pizza place, none of the rest of the patrons had every seen anything like it either. Every eye in the place was on these guys, and not a word was spoken. The four of them didn't seem to be bothered at all by the stunned silence. They just took their pizza and walked out on to the street. But I think they're dressing alike was designed to get just that kind of a response. It sure worked.

And of course, my camera was sitting back at my brother's house, secure in my suitcase. Darn.

But the strange string of events wasn't quite over.

When I left the pizza place, there was a crowd gathering on the sidewalk and it was getting really, really noisy. And no, they weren't all looking at the quads. I don't know where those guys went but I didn't see them around.

Instead, I looked up, like everyone else, and watched while a huge Sikorsky helicopter dropped an 80-foot cable down to a group of workmen below. They tied off some construction beams, which were then hoisted into the air and up to the top of a nearby building. What an incredible racket! And what a thing to see in the downtown of a big city on a Saturday afternoon! And of course, with no camera in my hand!

The entire square at Gerrard and Yonge was blocked off by police, of course, to make sure that no one got near the helicopter's load, but just the same, the whole process seemed a little precarious. It was a windy day, and once the load of beams got up in the air, they started swinging wildly. It would have been interesting to see them slam through one side of the glass-walled building they were heading towards, but the pilot got things under control in time and no damage was done. Interesting process.

Excitement over, I headed back to the conference. Just another day in the big city.

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