Jessica Pundyk

Jessica Pundyk is a 21 year old who was inspired to be a writer after reading the book My Name is Memory. She now hopes to one day write her own book that too, will inspire others to write.
She is currently attending Algonquin College and works at Resonsible Choice, a driving service to get customers and their car home after they have been drinking.


Occupation: Sober Chauffeur

Qualifications: License, Extreme patience, Zero blood alcohol level
Job Description: A rewarding career path that saves lives and tests your composure.


A Terrible Coincidence

It was a busy night at RC and I was teamed up with my co-worker Laurie. Laurie has never been one to share her life with anyone and usually strays from topics about her family, for a good reason. It was late when we reached our last pick up destination, about three in the morning. Laurie left the Smart Car, shook our customer's hand and got into his little blue Mazda. A good 20 minutes into our journey, I noticed Laurie driving over the speed limit. I too began to speed to keep up, not wanting to lose sight of the Mazda. As she started creeping up to 120 km/h in an 80 km/h zone, I began to worry. I honked my horn to signal that I refused to keep up to her at such a high speed. She slowed down and began driving at a reasonable speed again.

Twenty minutes later, we reached the home of the owner of the blue Mazda. Laurie was out in a matter of seconds. She slammed the door and bee-lined to where I was pulled over in the Smart Car. I saw the man leave the passenger seat slowly. He looked back at her. Even in the dark I could tell he looked harmless and bewildered, ashamed even. Laurie got in the car and we drove off.

I immediately asked her what happened since it was obvious that something was wrong. Her fists were tight, her teeth were clenched, and she ,was a lot more quiet than usual. She shook her head. She wasn’t ready to share. We drove back to the office in silence. I parked in front of the RC building and as I went to open my door Laurie began to share what had happened.

“He insulted my brother,” she said quietly.

I didn’t know much about her family —still don’t— but I knew that her brother had died in an unfortunate accident. I wasn't sure of the details until she continued.

“Mr. Groube [the customer in the blue Mazda] was telling me about his new job as a safety supervisor at a construction company. He was saying how the previous supervisor was fired after some idiot stood between two trucks and got mashed between them.” She paused. I knew what was coming.

“I wasn’t going to say anything, but he started going into detail about what a mess it was after.  I didn’t want to hear it. I had to stop him so I informed the bastard that it was my brother that stood between the two trucks and died that day.”

We sat in the car in silence. I didn’t know what to say. I turned to her and she could see the horror in my eyes. She must have, because she gave me a comforting smile as if I were the victim. I told her how sorry I was. It was all I could say.

I now understand why Laurie has always been so quiet about her family. I will never forget that incident and I will always be conscious of the information I tell acquaintances. I’m sure the man in the little blue Mazda will never forget either.


Feature: An Interview with Chris Lancastor

Chris Lancaster, the man who runs the show as a General Manger for Responsible Choice,  a company that mostly caters to the drunk in need of a safe ride home. As I invite him in, I greet him with freshly made rice crispie squares, a favorite of his that I’ve learnt while working for him at RC. Being the GM, it was very difficult to get a hold of him and schedule an interview. We sit down right away and begin, since I know he is always pressed for time and would soon need to return back to the office. As usual, Chris is dressed in the RC dress attire of black pants, dress shirt and tie. Perhaps the rice crispies were not a good idea since he constantly has his mouth full of the delicious treat while answer my questions.

How did you find your job at RC and what has driven you to stay for so long?
I found it through a friend, she told me to come and work for Christmas rush, so I did. I needed a part time job to make some cash on the side and the hours were flexible. Also, the tips and the fact I got to drive fancy cars caught my attention! 

What is the funniest experience you’ve had while on the job?
First of all, I’ve had many experiences that are not particularly so funny for the customer, but when they throw up in their own car.. Oh man! I had this one guy who was dry heaving almost the whole ride, and I asked him if he was ok and he kept saying yes over and over again every time I asked. Then, when we were about two minutes away from his place, he decided he had to puck but he didn’t tell me. Although I didn’t have much time to pull over I did get him outside on time before he ‘blew’. I asked him if he was ok and he said he was. We got back in to the car and I started driving again. Only a couple seconds in, he threw up all over the dash board of his BMW 5 series. 

There’s also this one crude story and I don’t know if I should tell it. ( After some pleading he continues) Ok so I picked up these three girls and one of the girls in the back seat.. umm.. haha.. she asked me what she could do to, umm, we’ll say for better use of words, how she could uh.. get me aroused without touching me. 

Did you answer ?!

Oh of course! I told her, probably not much, and then she.. well, decided to give it a try. The first thing she did was ask me if I wanted to sleep with her. Then she continued saying my name in sexual voices and asked, “how about now?” and I said no. She then said, “how about this,” and took out her cell phone and showed me a nude picture of herself, and then she asked again and I still said no. I had to make it stop so finally I just gave in and agreed with her!

What is the scariest situation you’ve ever been in while working at RC? 
The scariest? Probably one of them was when I was driving in the dark, on a country road, in a snow storm and got lost. Also, I’ve come so close to hitting a deer a couple of times. 

The absolute scariest situation that I’ve experienced with this job was when I was the supervisor at an event at a golf course. I told one of the guys to go ahead without us and we’d meet up with him later. We always work in teams of two so normally this wouldn’t have happened, but he ended up flipping the car in a ditch and was alone. Luckily he was able to call for help. He wasn’t too badly injured but it scared the hell out of me! That phone call, I’ll never forget it. All because a deer jumped out in front of him! 

Who was the most interesting client you’ve ever driven? Why?
Ok, here’s an interesting one. The job description is we drive customers home in their cars after they’ve had too much to drink. So, this one guy, I’ll call him a gentleman, even though he wasn’t, called us because he had attempted to drive out of his driveway, got about half way down, put his vehicle in park and realized he couldn’t drive because he was tripping out too much on drugs. Once we arrived, he thanked us and said, “ I tried but there were just waayyy too many colors!” Its hard to say which customer is the MOST interesting. Imagine everyone you know getting alcohol in them, suddenly they all become interesting!

Have you ever gotten hurt while working or come close?
I don’t like to admit this, but I was driving in a snow storm on the highway, and there was absolutely no one on the road. I was in the Smart Car and after a while, there was one person who was waayyy ahead of me. I was driving going straight for over an hour behind him. The second I caught up to him, the car happened to lose control and I bumped into him and then slid into a concrete wall. I banged my head on the steering wheel and still have the scar to show it. The Smart Car was ruined and the other guy wasn’t too happy either.

What are all the services that RC offers?
We offer first and foremost a chauffeur service where we drive you and your car home when you’ve had too much to drink. We also have a valet service were we attend events, set up signage, park cars and retrieve them when customers are ready to go.
The company offers an on sight service. For example a wedding, we would go for as many hours as the client asked, set up a table and drive their guests home. Regularly we’ll send up to 6 teams. Golf tournaments, weddings, birthday parties, any event!
We also offer a shuttle service. We pick up and drive people to the airport so customers do not have to leave their car there.
What is your opinion of the service RC provides?
It is absolutely an amazing service. It’s doing the city a huge favor by keeping citizens safe as long as they are smart enough to use us after they’ve had too much to drink. We save lives!

Who are the main clientele and why do you think they use RC most?
The main clientele are middle to upper class because it is slightly more expensive than a cab and they have the comfort of being in their own car. Generally, someone who is wise enough and has the money to spend, they will use services that RC provides. Students however, they usually stick to rides they can afford like the bus or paying a friend gas money for the drive. 

Is there anything else wanted to share?
613-248-0444. We’ll drive you home in a Ferrari..if you own one



Column: What is Responsible Choice? 

It still surprises me that many do not know what the company Responsible Choice is or what it does. It saves lives.

There was a time where it was not exactly frowned upon to drink and drive. My mother once told me she could recall whenthere was a saying one for the road.  When guests would leave a party, the host would actually supply them with something to drink on their way home. I can only hope that this was a rare gesture and a brief period when this was offered. 

Today, partiers have many options on how they can get home safely after a night of drinking. There is city transportation such as the bus, taxi or even a cop car depending how desperate you are. One could also plan ahead and have someone pick them up, plan to be the designated driver and not drink during the party or plan to stay the night where the festivities are taking place. 

It truly amazes me of how many accidents people get into, how many lives are lost and how much damage is caused but people thinking that they are ok to drive or that they trust the driver, even though they know they have been drinking.

Since 2003, the company Responsible Choice has been offering a new service. Say you decide to go downtown for a friend's party. You drive down expecting not to drink but you get carried away and now you are seeing double. You don't want to leave your car downtown and take the bus but you know you shouldn't drive and neither should your friends. This is when you call RC. Two employees will meet you at your car at any time at night or morning in a company Smart Car. One employee then gets in your vehicle with you and drives you home as the other employee follows behind.  This program may cost a little more then a taxi but it saves you your life, possible tickets and accidents.

I strongly encourage everyone to use this service or at least keep it in mind when you are out. You never know when you and your car will be stranded somewhere and the idea to drive home drunk will be dangerously tempting.


Hamlet's BlackBerry

I'm not normally a fan of non-fiction, but I greatly enjoyed reading Hamlet's BlackBerry by William Powers. It's a highly informative read about how humanity has evolved with technology and the relationship between the two.

Powers separates his book into three parts. In the first section, he uses metaphors and creates situations for readers to understand his points using a different perspective. The second part goes into the evolution of technology and how it has changed so rapidly (as have the users). He explains how great technology can be and how it helps us, but also plays devil's advocate and demonstrates that while technology helps us, it sometimes helps us too mcuh, making it less likely to memorize phone numbers and birthdays without checking address books or Facebook.

I found it very interesting to read about Powers' life and experiences with technology. He writes about his own family dynamics and rules about turning off the Internet a couple times a week, which increased family time and made Powers appreciate the Internet more when he was able to access it. This inspired me to think of personal rules that I would introduce to a future family of my own in order to not let the digital world overtake us. Powers makes it clear how important it is to "disconnect" from the world sometimes, and that it is OK to be "connected" at other times. I found Powers' life interesting to read about, but felt that he dragged on when he went into detail about the lives of certain philosophers. I do believe he brought up some important facts and insights, but wished he hadn’t used as many pages to do so. 

Powers also describes how great electronics are, how they help people stay connected no matter where they are. They are so convenient and have changed the world so much. They have many advantages, but with that also comes some disadvantages. Powers mentions the “Vanishing Family Member Trick.” I can strongly relate to this with my friends. One moment we are having a great conversation at dinner, and the next thing I know they are checking their phones instead.

I really enjoyed the look at how technology has advanced through the stages of time. It’s easy to forget what technology we had as children, what our parents had and what their parents had. It’s hard to imagine how I survived without a cell phone 10 years ago and how I managed without Facebook only five years ago. The world is rapidly changing, and so are people. This is no different from the world hundreds of years ago, Powers explains. We must not forget that people adjusted to the creation of fire and the invention of electricity, and people will also adjust to the world of social media. Most already have. 

I would strongly recommend Hamlet's BlackBerry to others interested in the world of technology. Some people are already so accustomed to the new ways of the world that they don’t care to read such a book. To them I would suggest it most. Families need to take Powers’ advice and "disconnect" from the digital world and spend more face time with each other. Our humanity depends on it.




Review: Chronicle

I was at first a little disappointed to see that Chronicle was filmed in the new and increasingly popular film footage style. I have seen movies in the past such as Paranormal Activity and The Devil Inside which used the same technique to create a different feel to the film, a feeling that what you saw has actually happened striking fear in your gut. I had no yet seen such a technique used in a Science Fiction film and did not think it was necessary. Not half way through the film I realized that I was mistake and that the story needed to told as if it had truly happened and had been captured through a disturbed characters cam-cord. The film style creates an allusion having you believe that it is possible for what happened to the three friends. The three main characters, Michael B. Jordan, Dane DeHaan, and Alex Russell, stumble upon a weird area that gives them super-natural powers. The actors make the story believable by using the powers to do simple things at first that any young adult would use powers for in the beginning, scarring young children, confusing adults and even flying. It seemed like I could have watch endless tricks and stunts they pulled of with there powers because of the film style. It almost gave me hope that perhaps it was possible. 

I did not like how the film ended. The special effects were not the greatest and I thought it a bit unbelievable that boys with such powers would have such a negative fate. I realize the Chronicle had to end somehow but I would have rather have seen the boys create a way to live in society with their gifts instead of destroying it. Overall I would recommend the movie to a friend but would also suggest they wait for it to be available for rent.