“I’ve got a job,” my artist wife said, rushing into the living room of our fourth-floor walk-up apartment shortly after our honeymoon and long before the days of her established art business.

I know, I thought. You’ve been working customer service at the local department store in our suburban mall for over a year. 

“A new job,” she continued, after my bewildered look betrayed my thoughts. “It’s gonna be awesome.”

“Oh really?” I asked. “Where?”

DeSerres,” she said.

Again, I was bewildered. I had never heard of DeSerres back then, let alone be able to spell it on my first try. Or second, for that matter.

“It’s in West Edmonton Mall,” she eagerly shouted, which I’m sure our downstairs neighbours appreciated. Then again, their loud music was pulsating through the floor again, so probably not.

“West Edmonton Mall?” I exclaimed right back, even more bewildered as I tapped my foot to the downstairs tunes.

DeSerres was located across two floors in Phase 1 of West Edmonton Mall when my artist wife worked there. It has since moved locations and downsized to one floor.

While West Edmonton Mall is an amazing place — I lived in its Fantasyland Hotel with my family for 10 days as a 9-year-old boy when we moved west from Ontario — it wasn’t exactly close to our apartment in the Prairie suburbs on the complete opposite side of Edmonton.

It was a 45-minute drive on a warm, summer day; and forget the winter drive in any blizzard. Plus, we only had one vehicle, which I needed for my job as Editor of the local newspaper.

But wait, there’s more. To further deepen the flaws (and not trying to pile on), she didn’t even have her driver’s license. At least I could drop her off and pick her up at her current job or, at least, it was close enough to be a 15-minute walk.

This new job plan had some serious holes, I thought. Clearly, I wasn’t sure this was the best idea, but she had more than enough enthusiasm about the new job to cover off my lack thereof.

All of this floating around my mind, I felt I was still missing an important piece of the puzzle that could plug these serious holes. So, I dove back into the conversation

“What is DeSerres?” I asked.

“A Canadian craft and art supplies store,” she replied. 

Of course it was.

“And I’ll get an employee discount,” she added. “I’ll save so much on the art supplies I buy.”

“And I’ll get an employee discount,” she added. “I’ll save so much on the art supplies I buy.”

Right, I thought. But she still had to get there. And, given she would be hanging around art supplies all day thereby creating a desire to buy the supplies, I wasn’t so sure of the prospect of her ability to ‘save’ on art supplies. 

Saving a meagre amount on art purchases, especially in her pre-art business days, wasn’t exactly money saved if she was buying supplies she didn’t need.

But the employee discount and the work in an art-related job was an advancement; or so it goes in artist-think.

With so many skeptical thoughts swirling in my head, I re-focused myself on the most practical and most immediate question.

“Ok, so how are you going to get there?” I asked.

“Bus,” she said.


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I wouldn’t describe the transit service from our Prairie suburb to West Edmonton Mall at that time as having robust options. In fact, there were very few options. So few, in fact, that I was pretty sure it couldn’t be done. It was impossible.

Au contraire, I later learned. My wife cobbled together a way to get there; so desperate was she to get that employee discount and work in an art-related job.

It would take her over an hour, including two busses, two transfers, and one subway train. Most mortals would be deterred by such a barbaric daily commute. Not my bride.

Bless her heart and her passion for art. Taking on such a commute to get to a customer-service job at an art supply store in the world’s largest shopping mall at the time still seems like an atrocious price to pay for an employee discount.

In the end, as my wife stumbled up the four flights of stairs to our two-bedroom apartment every night well past dinner time following her barbaric commute, I was tucked in nicely on the couch having enjoyed a daily bachelor-made dinner of KD and hot dogs.

But, at least she got her employee discount.

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