Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Freebies for Jets, not Blue

Neither are needy as some in society

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AND NOW A SERVING OF BITES FOR BREAKFAST... The owner of a local diner, which shall go nameless at his request, was proudly telling me a couple of the Jets were in his place Monday morning.

And that last week some big burly Bombers were there, too.

Nothing all that unusual about that.

But then the diner owner offered the rest of the story.

Turns out when the Jets were there, one of the other patrons, a fan obviously, bought their meals.

Apparently that happens all the time.

But, the owner told me, no one ever buys for the Bombers.

I don't know about you, but that made me laugh.

I wondered if it was because no one recognized the Bombers.

The diner owner shook his head, no.

Maybe, then, it's more a comment on the fans' anger toward the Bomber organization, and this miserable season, than it is about the players individually.

After all, the Bomber organization has a lot on its plate.

Almost as much as what one big Bomber piled on his plate last week at breakfast.

That Bomber's bill came to $42.

The ritual of fans buying professional athletes drinks in bars or meals in restaurants is something that goes on all over the world, and I suppose it's a nice gesture that make both the fans and the players feel good.

But, as one of the diner employees pointed out, the Jets players make way more than the Bombers.

The National Hockey League's average salary is $2.45 million, even if half the players in the league make considerably less than that.

The average Canadian Football League basic salary is $83,000.

In any event, we know none of the Jets or Bombers is lining up for breakfast at the Salvation Army or lunch at Siloam Mission.

If you really feel the need to pay for someone's meal, a homeless person would be a better choice than a professional athlete.

But, Jets worshippers, where is the rush of the brush with greatness in buying a meal for someone who has nothing?

-- -- --

SMARTPHONE, STUPID OWNER... I did something stupid with my smartphone last month. We were on an Air Canada flight from Winnipeg to Toronto, and I left my BlackBerry behind in my seat. On the way home a few days later, I dropped by the lost-luggage kiosk at Pearson International Airport and a helpful Air Canada staff member led me into a room where the airline stores items left behind on flights. I sifted through two large cabinets full of gadgets, cameras, and assorted other stuff.

No luck.

But the process made me curious about how many items absent-minded passengers such as myself leave behind in their haste to depart a plane at their destination. So I contacted Air Canada's media man for this region, Peter Fitzpatrick.

He said it was hard to provide precise numbers because they vary from month to month. But in June, Air Canada found about 700 items a week and returned about 90 a week.

"But," he added in an email, "you have to keep in mind that for a lot of the things that we find the owners do not report them missing, mostly it seems because they are low-value (i.e. children's toys, scarves, hats, sunglasses)."

You might also keep in mind that worldwide Air Canada carries about 90,000 passengers a day.

So what happens to the items that aren't claimed or returned?

Turns out they're kept for five days at the airport where they're found, and then they're sent to a central facility in Montreal. And after 90 days, the items are given to charity or sold with the proceeds going to the Air Canada Foundation, a charitable organization the airline created to help ill and disadvantaged children.

So there you have it.

And no, my BlackBerry wasn't returned. I know there are iPhone and Android users who think there's no loss in that. But I happen to love my old BlackBerry. And my new one, too.

-- -- --

THE BOTTOM LINE... Kelly Larkins, of Brookside Memorials, has sent me the layout of the headstone he and his company have graciously donated for Wilson Hall, the homeless man who was buried without his family being notified. It features a soaring heavenly eagle, a bird that is spiritually significant in First Nations cultures.

Brookside Cemetery has a deadline for placing markers before winter. It's Friday. But before Kelly actually makes the marker, he needs the family's approval. And Faron the "Homeless Hero" Hall is the registered next of kin. Forget my lost BlackBerry. We need to find Faron.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 10, 2013 B2

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