I like to think that I’m a good father. Do I make mistakes? Hell yeah! Do I have the best intentions? Absolutely. I always want the best for Drama Queen and myself and my goal is for her to have the best life possible. Does that mean that she always has the best clothes and all the nice things she wants? No. But I want to make sure that she is happy, grounded and always know that I love her. As you read this story, please keep that in mind.
A year ago at this time, January 15, 2009 to be exact, I boarded a plane in Los Angeles and headed to Toronto to begin the single biggest adventure of my life. This adventure actually began in November of 2008, when I was doing my humble little radio show on KLBC in Long Beach, California. Now that I think back, it really started back in April of 2008, so let’s go back there.
I was broadcasting college baseball with my co-host and broadcast partner Wes The Sports Guy when I found out that there would be a new minor-league baseball team in Long Beach. They were called The Long Beach Armada and they were playing in the independent Golden Baseball League (GBL). I gave the team a ring and inquired as to whether or not they needed broadcasters. They did and Wes & I landed the gig.
A couple weeks into the season I was approached by a guy named Sam from Hamilton, Ontario. Sam was producing a weekly TV show for the GBL on a new Canadian cable network and he wondered if Wes & I would like to host it. Long story short, the TV show never happened because the network didn’t make it on the air before the season was over, but Sam seemed like a cool guy and Wes and I had him on our show as a regular guest. At some point early on I introduced him as Sam The Canadian and the name sort of stuck.
In early November of 2008 I received another phone call from Sam. He told me that he knew a guy (The Fat Man) who was starting two new radio stations in suburban Toronto. One was a country station and the other was to be rock/alternative/AC. Sam was going to be the morning guy on the country station and he wanted to pitch me as the morning guy for the rock station. He asked if I was interested and I said I was, as long as the situation was right.
I was offered the gig hosting the morning show and I was assured that the necessary visa paperwork was in the works and I was to start working at the station on February 2, 2009 and the station was to go live on February 9, 2009 at 6 AM with J.R. In the Morning. I arrived in Canada a couple weeks early to get situated and to get an Ontario drivers license, get a car, a place to live and so on and so forth. The Drama Queen (D.Q.) was going to fly out with my mom on February 13. I wanted her to wait a few weeks so that I could get settled and find a good school for her.
I got my new license, got a car and was excited and ready to get to work. I showed up at the station at 9 AM on February 2 ready to go and found no one there. Sam and I hung around for a while and decided to go Tim Horton’s for some coffee. We came back a few minutes after 10 to find The Fat Man just arriving. Fat Man and I sat down and chatted a bit about what he expected from me, how long my commercial breaks were going to be, when I had to break for news, etc. Other than that, the show was pretty much mine.
I went into my studio to think about what regular segments I wanted to do and how this was all going to work. I was understandably nervous, but knew I could handle the job. On Friday (three days before I was to make my Canadian radio debut) we were informed that the CRTC (Canada’s version of the FCC) was holding up our launch for a few days because of some paperwork glitch involving our antennae. I was frustrated, but I knew that such things occasionally happened with new stations in the U.S. so I didn’t think too much about it.
That same day I also found out that the paperwork for my work visa actually wasn’t in the works and that it needed to be started right away. I asked what the hold up was and The Fat Man said very matter-of-factly that the immigration lawyer needed $3,500 to get my work visa and that the station could not afford to pay it, so if I wanted to stay in the country I would need to pay the money.
I was beyond pissed, but what could I do? I had no job to go back to in California, no place to live in the States and my furniture and all our personal belongings were sitting at the border waiting to be delivered to our new home. Fat Man explained that he needed a certified check in Canadian funds made out to the station. I told him that I wanted to make it out directly to the lawyer but he explained that the station had already paid the lawyer but hadn’t anticipated some extra expenses, so either I paid the station back the money or there would be no station to work for. I was between a rock and a hard place and really had no choice. I got him his check and kept preparing for my show.
When I found a place to live (the station was renting the house for me) I checked with the school district to see what I needed to register Drama Queen in school. I was given a list of items and was relieved to find out that I had everything. She arrived and I took her to school the first day, only to find out that I hadn’t been told everything. Since I wasn’t Canadian and since my work visa wasn’t finished, I had to pay $800 a month for her to go to public school in Ontario. I was pissed, but even the Superintendent told me his hands were tied—the Ontario Ministry of Education charged the district the money and someone had to pay it.
I went back to The Fat Man and talked with him about the work visa. He placed a phone call to the lawyer and said that I would have the visa finished in two weeks. I enrolled D.Q. in school and figured that I would just eat the $800.
In May I would come to find out, there was no lawyer hired back in February and The Fat Man never paid anyone with my money. No lawyer meant no work visa, which meant that I was shelling out $800 a month for D.Q. to finish out the school year. That was $800 in February, March, April and May–$3,200 in all. He finally did hire a lawyer in May, but it didn’t really matter since the station never went on the air.
The bottom line is that D.Q. and I sat in Canada from January 15, 2009 until September 1, 2009 when we moved to Buffalo. We were living off of savings and the only compensation I ever received was the rent. BTW…The Fat Man never paid the last couple months rent and I was evicted in mid-August (with two days notice to clear out) and had to crash with someone the last two weeks we were in Canada. See what I meant at the beginning when I said I was “bent over by The Fat Man?”
As crappy as this story sounds, it’s not all bad. I lost a ton of money that I’m trying to get back, but as an American going after a Canadian in Canada it’s not the easiest thing to do. I made some friends and had some great experiences, which you can read about another time. If I hadn’t gotten screwed in Canada I never would have moved to Buffalo. If I never moved to Buffalo I never would have met and fell in love with The Phone Sex Operator.
So boys and girls, the point of the story is this (yes, there is a point): Sometimes you have to go through crappy experiences to find what you’ve always been searching for. The bad experiences only highlight how absolutely amazing the good ones can be. Now that I think about it, I guess that I can consider moving to Canada the beginning of my own personal love story. The end is yet to be written, but I can assure you that the beginning is pretty sweet! The End.