Monday, March 3, 2008

The "Drug Wars" (9)- Toronto, Canada 1982

While I was stationed in Milan, Italy in 1982, I was called to testify at a trial in British Victoria, Canada in connection with a case I had been involved in at my previous duty station in Los Angeles. It was a joint case with the RCMP, in which arrests were made both in California and Canada. At the conclusion of my testimony, I took a couple of days to visit my Mom in Los Angeles before returning to Italy.

Since my travel was paid for by the Canadian Government, I was required to fly on Air Canada. Thus, I flew to Toronto to make my connection back to Italy. While in Toronto, I took the opportunity to visit with one of my old Canadian RCMP colleagues (Tom), with whom I had worked in Bangkok when he was the Canadian Narcotic Attache in the 1970s.

Upon arrival at Toronto Airport at about 5pm, I was picked up by his son, whom I had known in Bangkok when he was a young boy. Now a young adult, he was in training to become a Mountie. The plan was for me to check into my hotel, pick up Tom at the RCMP and then go to their house for dinner.

"Mom's making a big dinner for you. We'll stop by the office, pick up Dad and then we'll go home for dinner," Tom's son told me.

By 6 pm, we were at RCMP Hqs, where Tom greeted me.

"Great to see you, Gary. The wife's got a great dinner planned for you. We'll stop in the mess (RCMP pub), have a quick beer and then go to our house."

"Sounds like a plan," I answered.

The mess was full of Mounties. They were having a national drug training conference, and there were Mounties from all over the country. I was introduced to everyone from Toronto and we ordered a beer.

Then another beer, and another. After each round, Tom said, "Let's have one more beer, then we'll go."

Soon it dawned on me that, like Australians, Canadians, especially cops, tended to put drinking first. Other things tended to be shoved to the side. As the hours passed, I realized that we were not going home for dinner that night. At one point, one of the other cops told me that (after one more round) he would show me some of the wonderful bars in Toronto.

"Sounds like a plan," I answered.

So one more round became several more rounds (each one supposed to be the last.) By now, Tom was going nose to nose with a Mountie from Nova Scotia who was giving his son some lip. In one corner of the room, a couple of Francophone Mounties were arguing with Anglophone Mounties. I thought about Tom's wife stewing at home with that great dinner.

Finally, at about midnight, realizing that no one was going anywhere, I gave up on the whole thing. I got up and walked out the door, passing Tom's son, passed out on the floor and missing one shoe. I jumped in a cab and went back to my hotel. I had a flight to catch the next day.

A couple of years later, I heard that Tom and his wife had...well,...divorced.

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