Working as a low-level corporate drone in my early 20s, the arrival of the Calgary Stampede, so giddily anticipated by senior management, meant very little to me. Bigwigs got to get themselves AWOL as much as they wanted during Stampede; they could day-drink downtown all Stampede week in the name of civic good will and wanting to be a good corporate citizen. I got to sit at my cubicle 40 hours a week, staring out at the same downtown Calgary skyline I stared at every day. Nothing changed for people of my pay grade.
Nothing, that is, except the annual Stampede breakfast that we ourselves—Greyhound Canada—hosted, from the parkade roof of our building, one afternoon a year. We were not only allowed to attend our own Stampede breakfast, we were obliged to attend; it was mandatory. Our chief executives, as per custom, served us, their staff, pancakes, bacon and scrambled eggs just this once a year and we were meant to be awed by their service. It was necessary that the event be successful so that senior management could rest easy in its own magnanimity for another year. Forced frivolity: it’s what I remember most of The Calgary Stampede, which starts today. I wrote a short story set against the background of the annual Stampede blowout. You can read it here.
I worked at Greyhound full-time for seven years, from the age of 20 to 27. I thought I would be staring out the windows of the Calgary Greyhound office for the rest of my life. Escaping that life remains probably my greatest life accomplishment.