An update since it has been a while since I last littered your minds with my wonderful words of wisdom.

The month of February led up to the inevitable retirement of our store manager Don Simmons. Don is somewhat legendary in the Wal-Mart world. 23 years ago he took control of store 578 in Sevierville,TN and was it’s only store manager from opening day until his retirement in February. He is reportedly the only store manager in the company to do so. Don is probably the most beloved store manager I have ever worked for. People had a lot of respect for him. In Wal-Mart’s culture, managers used to be referred to as “Mr. (manager’s last name)” or “Ms./Mrs. (manager’s last name)”, until Sam Walton decided we should all be on a first name basis. Most everyone at my store still refers to Don as Mr. Simmons, out of sheer respect for him. He was a heck of a nice guy, and everyone had a lot of praise for him. I know that two of my former store managers worked under him at one point or another. Aside from that, he has promoted many hourly and salaried associates from that store into higher positions, and many of those people attribute their success to his influence. I can only hope that one day I am able to have half as many people stand up and vouch for the impact I had on their lives and careers….in a positive way!

Heather, Nikki, Melissa, and myself all ventured off to my favorite international city, Toronto, in late February to meetup with the online crew and enjoy the musical stylings of Raine Maida and his wife Chantal Kreviazuk. I decided to do the excruciating semi-non-stop drive from Tennessee to New Jersey to Toronto, which took around 19 hours to complete. Luckily while I was tired and grouchy and angry we were able to hit evening traffic in Toronto, which fueled my road rage. It was colder than the dark side of Frosty The Snowman’s ass in T.O. The wind blowing off the lake might as well have been a chainsaw ripping through me. Heather got to see some of the touristy stuff around the city, and I hope to go back with her again someday so she can see some more of it.

Raine and Chantal put on a fantastic concert. His solo work is pretty neat, and some songs I wondered why he didn’t just do with OLP. Chantal was amazing, andI got to hear my favorite songs by her: Time, In This Life, Wayne, and Leaving On A Jet Plane (John Denver cover). Perhaps the best part of the whole concert was when Rowan and Lucca, her two boys, came on-stage to sing and be cute.

Prior to the concert we had a huge dinner meetup across from Massey Hall at Mr. Green Jeans inside Eaton Centre. I got to see lots of old familiar faces, and meet new ones too. I learned that my online friends are among the most thoughtful in the world. Christine and company arranged for a wedding gift to be given to Heather and myself. Several friends donated to various charities in our name and signed a card telling what organization they had donated to. Everything from animal rights, autism groups, cancer societies, and music organizations recieved donations in our name. It was strikingly original, and very humbling. Thanks to you all.

I’m hungry, as usual. So with that I am cutting this entry short and maybe, just maybe, I will return sooner than later with more to say. Until then, everyone take care and come visit me if you are in the area!