I knew something must be wrong since hearing the obscenities is now quite commonplace - but the door slamming is definitely something new, even for Dad.
When I got up to the kitchen Dad was in an obvious agitated state, muttering the word 'racists' or something sounding very similar.
"Something wrong Dad?" I asked, in a rather sarcastic tone.
Dad glared at me for a moment and then reached into his pocket and threw a handful of crumpled coupons onto the kitchen table.
"Of course something's wrong, you damn fool" Dad angrily retorted. "The bloody coupons I got from that Canadian Tire store is what's the matter, just look at them."
For those folks reading this outside of Canada, a Canadian Tire store is retail chain selling various home appliances, hardware items and tools. Nothing fancy, basically just your regular store. The coupons that they give out whenever you make a purchase (and what was apparently upsetting my Dad) are shown below.
I picked up one of the coupons and studied it for a moment and then turned in over and did the same on the reverse however I could really not see anything wrong with it, despite my fathers assertions.
I could feel him glaring at me the entire time and knew I would feel his wrath if I was not able to find something wrong, so I figured I would simply guess. At least a guess, however feeble, would be better than saying nothing.
"They cheated you, I bet. Should have given you twice as many coupons, right?" I ventured my guess aloud.
"Of course not, you fool!" Dad barked at me. "You think for one minute if they tried to cheat me I would let them get away with it? For someone with a university education you are quite the daftie. Look at the picture on it, they're using a picture of a Scotsman on their coupons."
I looked again at the coupon again and indeed there was a caricature of an old Scotsman wearing a tam and looking rather jovial.
"This picture on the coupon is just their fictional mascot for the store named 'Sandy McTire'. I pointed out to Dad. "Meaningless."
"Nonsense" he raged. "This is nothing more than racist propaganda that is depicting all us Scottish people as chiselers and penny pinchers. An outdated old stereotype which needs to be stopped, let me tell you."
I didn't think it wise for me to comment that he had just driven half way across town to save only a couple of dollars. No, not me. A younger and perhaps 'more foolish me' would have made this observation aloud, however with age comes wisdom.
"But Dad" I protested, attempting to calm him down. "This is harmless, just a silly old mascot that I think they have been using on their coupons for the past fifty years or so."
"Well it is the first time I've ever seen it" Dad seethed. "And I don't like it. Your mother use to do all the shopping around here before I retired and I never had time to go wandering around stores doing shopping like a man of leisure. I was at work earning money to keep you lot in food and clothing."
I could see that in the state he was in, this rage of Dad's could easily be turned on me, so I continued to try and calm the old man down.
"They're a big national chain Dad" I replied to him calmly. "I really don't think they are out to intentionally insult anyone. That's just crazy, they would lose business."
"Being born in Aberdeen, I think I can speak on behalf of every Scotsman here in Canada and say that this is an offensive depiction of all of us and we are not going to take it." Dad responded still sounding enraged.
I honestly really didn't think Dad could speak on the behalf of every Scotsman since he is probably the only one that holds this opinion. I thought it also best to keep that little remark to myself at this time in order to bring this conversation to a quicker conclusion. I figured I would try a much more subtle approach on Dad, that being to use simple logic.
"Dad" I began. "Just a couple of weeks ago you told me the Japanese were way too unreasonable and that the problem with the world was everyone was far too sensitive with these kind of comments."
Dad snapped back "It's one thing to make a passing comment to someone, that is harmless. However it is an entirely different matter when you center a national advertising campaign around outdated and ridiculous stereotypes about people and then proceed to take it a step further by printing coupons to distribute. Why, it's scandalous! Now enough chitchat, boy. You're going to help me to type a complaint letter to these people."
With that Dad grabbed the crumpled coupons on the table and marched out towards the sewing room where his computer is situated.
"What do you need me for, Dad?" I asked, hoping to distance myself from this insane situation.
"You can type it out while I dictate" Dad responded. "Correct any of my grammar with no spelling mistakes. I don't use that damn 'spell-checker thingy' much anyways - doesn't ever seem to work for me."
I was pretty sure that neither the spell or grammar checker on the computer would be of much help today with the kind of 'colourful language' my father generally uses, so I reluctantly trudged behind him to assist in this ridiculous task.
As the computer was booting up, Dad was already starting to dictate the letter, muttering to himself. He then noticed the look of discomfort on my face from all this and declared "You should be thanking me for taking the time to write a letter. Remember even though you were born here in Canada, you are still half Scottish."
His words did not give me any satisfaction at all and I just responded sighing "Well right now Dad, I really think I would be more thankful if I were half drunk."
"Ok Boy" Dad responded with a wave of his hand. "Enough nonsense from you, start typing. 'Dear Racist !@$$%&*#@!@$$&' "
"Yeah Dad, that's the way to start." I advised sarcastically. "Win them over to your point of view with your quick wit and charm."
"Shut up!" he shot back at me glaring. "I'm the one dictating this, you just type what I tell you to and save your silly wisecracks for someone else."
And with that he proceeded to dictate for the next fifteen minutes, as I faithfully typed every insane obscenity and observation Dad spewed out in his crazed anger. I knew if indeed this letter was ever posted to the company it would either be dismissed as coming from some 'nutter' or it would put on public display for the staff to openly ridicule.
You see when my father is in an angry state, he has a tendency to get off track from his original topic and starts to complain and rage about everything else that he perceives is wrong with the world in general. Today was no different and at one point I could have sworn that he muttered the phrase 'And Nixon was a real crook too', but I did not dare ask him to repeat any of his narrative as I wanted this charade to end as soon as possible.
Finally Dad finished dictating and he demanded that we print it out immediately. He then placed the letter in an envelope along with his half dozen crumpled up coupons.
"HA!" Dad snickered evilly. "Now they can put their racist propaganda where the 'sun don't shine'. This will put them on notice."
The timing of some events in life are really phenomenal and this was truly one of those moments. Just as Dad had sealed the envelope and placed a stamp on it, my Mother entered the room.
"Oh, here you boys are." she announced, turning to my father. "Simon, here is the latest flyer from Canadian Tire, they have that big stainless steel gas barbeque you have wanted for ages now on sale at 30% off. That discount, along with all the coupons we have saved up, will make it a very good deal if you still want it."
Dad quickly grabbed the newspaper flyer, his eyes scanning the advertisement from top to bottom. He then reached into the top of the computer desk and pulled out his little calculator and started carefully punching in digits, calculating the discounts, taxes, etc. all the while muttering numbers under his breath.
"Yes dear" Dad responded suddenly sounding almost giddy. "My, My, this is a good deal, a very good deal indeed."
Dad quickly ripped open the envelope that he had just sealed and pulled out all the coupons. He then threw the envelope and the letter into the trash can beside the desk.
I must have had a huge grin on my face because Dad quickly looked up and somewhat embarrassingly commented "Well no need to throw out the baby with the bath water, a deal is a deal."
With that he grabbed his car keys and just as he was leaving the room he must have regained his composure as he came back, no longer looking embarrassed in the least.
"Let this be a good life lesson for you boy." He began. "Never write a letter or speak out of turn when you are angry. Calmer heads will always prevail."
With those true words of wisdom passed on to me, he disappeared back out to the store with coupons in hand, to purchase his beloved barbeque.