My Chance Encounter with the Giz

[Ed. – To celebrate the Canadian Football Hall of Fame weekend in which Henry Williams was one of the inductees, Overtime Central presents this tale from guest author Jim Fedyk.]

With the induction of Henry ‘Gizmo’ Williams into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, I was reminded of my own short brush with greatness. The greatness I speak of, of course, is the legendary Giz himself. Here is my account.

It all happened in Regina, downtown outside the Cornwall Center in fact. You see, it was summertime and I was working as a security guard on a mission to take down the shoplifters ruining an otherwise fine city. It was an exciting time… Billy Ray Cyrus was hot and mullets were at their peak. Like Gizmo in many ways, I was winding and weaving my way through university at the time and because of my lack of an affluent background along with my parent’s desire for me to ‘build some character’, I was forced to work through the vacation months. Fate must have had a bigger plan for me that fine sunny day as I normally worked at the Hamilton Center, but on this particular afternoon kismet decided that I be called in to replace someone.

I was only about 19 years old… still pretty green, I know. As I was pacing in front of the mall doors in my fifteen dollar penny loafers and tacky security garb, a middle aged man approached me. He was big, burly, and balding with glasses and a beard and was wearing some sort of drab uniform. “Hey kid,” he announced, “can you do me a favor?” “Uh, sure Mister. Whad’ya need?” I humbly replied. He asked me if I knew who Gizmo Williams was. I told him that I did, and with that he went on to explain that he himself was the bus driver (or shuttle driver) for the Edmonton Eskimos. I was impressed with his position and embarrassingly blacked-out for a moment daydreaming of what his exciting occupation must be like. “Kid! Hey kid! Are you paying attention? I’m in a doggone hurry!” I quickly snapped back to reality and did my best to focus on my present circumstances. He explained that he was waiting for some football players, but on short notice had to go back to the hotel immediately. Despite making a promise to meet at 3 pm, he unfortunately could no longer wait for the group which included Gizmo. Up to this point I could understand his conundrum, but what role was I to play in this real life drama? Why did Lady Luck bring me to this particular place at this specific time only to cross paths with this certain stranger? Could I really be of any help to this obviously high ranking professional? I began to doubt myself and regret my earlier response. And really, why was it important that I be familiar with Gizmo Williams?

After a pause that seemed to go on for eons, the driver went on to break his news to me. He told me that I was to pass on some bad news to Mr. Williams. I was asked to inform him that he and his teammates were to find their own way back to the hotel. I wasn’t to offer them an alternative method, I wasn’t to aid in any way, I was just to boldly tell the CFL‘s most electrifying player that he was out of luck. That was my sole purpose on this afternoon, my entire reason for being. I tried to argue at how preposterous his favor really was, or at the very least think of an excuse to get myself out of this new responsibility, but it was too late. The driver had already nodded thanks, before quickly jumping onto his bus, closing the door and leaving my life forever.

As the iron lung pulled away my stomach shifted. I was nervous… real nervous. I mean, this was a lot to handle. I wondered to myself, what was it about my look that made this man entrust me with this duty? Was it the power resonating from the silver badge on my black as night blazer? Or was it just my honest non-threatening features that made him choose me that day?

Things only got worse. I couldn’t keep the sweat from dripping off my brow. Everything was spinning. The sun’s rays seemed to be piercing the back of my neck. I felt like the goalie that couldn’t get pulled despite allowing 12 soft goals. Was I going to vomit? Here in front of the Cornwall Center? Is this how it all ends? After some time, I managed to pull myself together. It wasn’t easy. ‘No big deal,’ I assured myself, ‘I’m sure he must be a good guy’. I thought ‘he’s gotta be understanding, kind and sympathetic. He’s a professional athlete. After all it’s hardly my fault.’

It was only 15 minutes, but it could easily have been 15 hours. As I glanced over my right shoulder I saw the mall doors burst open and in the shadows I could see some imposing figures making their exit. My throat was dry and my knees began to quiver. Four or five large men of African descent came my way and other than their size, what caught my eye was their enormous amount of ‘bling-bling’. This was of course before anyone knew what ‘bling’ was.

Then it happened. I recognized one of them. It was Gizmo, the CFL five time all-star was near the front of the pack. He was smallish, yet quite stocky. His hair was shaved to the scalp on the sides and back and his tight curls were cut short on top. ‘Obviously, well groomed’ I thought. I had completed half of what I was asked to do. With the identification process finished, I decided to make my move.

“Ex…krrrbbbt grrrttt!” I was forced to clear my throat. “Excuse me… Gizmo Williams?” I politely asked. ‘Yeah,’ he answered. “Ummm, your bus driver was kinda here, and… he kinda had to go for some reason…. soooooooo… he asked me to tell you… ummm…” The moment of truth was here. “He… he just… he said you’d have to find your own way back to the hotel.” I blurted it out. There it was finished. The damage was done. I closed my eyes in fear and held my breath.

“Oh” he said. “Awight”.

I opened one eye to check if the coast was clear. Okay then. No problem. He turned to go his way, and I went mine. Done.

“Hey!” I cringed as I heard a familiar squawky voice behind me. I reluctantly turned around to see Gizmo staring at me like he only would at the opposing coverage team. My stress factor shot through the roof. ‘Here it comes’ I thought. Thank goodness I was wearing speedstick. “Where can I get a daily?” the Giz demanded.

Now you got to understand, I was nervous. I mean it was just me and the Gizmo, face to face. The outside world didn’t exist to us at that one moment. A million things ran through my head. The main thought I had was ‘What does he mean by daily? Daily??? Let’s see, he wants to get back to his hotel… and he needs a daily. Is a daily a big city word for taxi or something? What’s this dude talking about? Maybe he’s using some form of African dialect that he presumes I’m aware of.’ Looking back on it, I guess you could say I was having a Jessica Simpson moment. Obviously, after the fact I realized that Gizmo was wanting a newspaper. Probably just curious about what the locals were writing about him. But still, at the time I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what he was asking me. We were from two different planets.

In the end, I did what any self-respecting Vision Securities and Investigation’s employee would have done in a similar situation. I lied to save my behind. Yes, I pretended like I knew what he was talking about. I even went so far as to give him some fake directions. “That way. Yep, just keep walking that way. I’m pretty sure. Maybe two blocks. Turn right.” I stammered unconvincingly. He gave me a look of confusion and for a moment I thought he was on to me. He didn’t say anything though, and after waiting for a moment he just turned away with that puzzled look on his face and led his troop of Eskimos in the direction I had pointed them in. With that, he too exited my life forever.

As I watched them walk away, I couldn’t help but smile. I had accomplished what I once feared. I began to think that maybe it was my life’s purpose to help those in need. Yes, for these reasons I smiled. I also smiled because unbeknownst to Henry and his pals, he wasn’t going to find no newspaper in that direction.

I had done it. I had fooled the un-foolable. I had deceived the master of deception himself. Me, a lowly minimum wager had stared into the face of death, and come out as the winner. As I thought about it more, I realized what I had really done. With the Eskimos doing battle with the hometown Riders the following day, I had just helped the Roughies cause. I had made Mr. Gizmo Williams, two-time Grey Cup Champion, waste his time and walk at least a few blocks more than he otherwise would have. Surely, his frustration and fatigue would get the better of him the next day.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember if the Riders won on that Sunday. But I do remember feeling on that day that I had really accomplished something. I proceeded to sit down on a bench near the fountain for a few hours until my shift was finally over, trying to take it all in. I had done my part. I wanted to hang onto the moment. I knew that the next day I would be back at the Hamilton Center, and this would all be a distant memory.

Many years have passed since Gizmo’s and my fortunes collided. It took me many years to mature and realize that screwing Gizmo around maybe wasn’t what the Divine Will would have had me do. Perhaps I should have just explained my ignorance to him, I don’t know. You could say that with Gizmo’s career being recognized this weekend by the CFL, I’m feeling a bit of guilt over how I possibly impeded his career from being all that it could be.

Anyways, this is the end of the story. Yes it’s unbelievable, but it’s all true. In closing there is but one thing for me to say. Nothing can turn my wrong into a right, but at this time it’s necessary for me to ease my troubled conscience.

Gizmo, I’m really sorry.

Jim Fedyk

[Ed. – If this occurred in 1992 as suggested, then this likely occurred in late May or early June when Williams was in Regina with other CFL players for an all-star junket or players’ association meeting or something. The exact event escapes our memories. The ‘Riders did not play Edmonton at home until September that year, well after Jim had returned to classes.]

Jim’s note: Upon coming to terms with what seems to be my obviously defective memory I must say, Gizmo, I’m not the least bit sorry after all. Screw you! ! ! And Ed… Screw you! ! ! And Gord……. SCREWWWWW YOUUUU! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! (permission for this bit was granted by Worldwide Pants).

6 Responses to “My Chance Encounter with the Giz”

  1. Cindy Says:

    So Jim, which paper is your humor column going to be published in?

  2. Jon Says:

    Jim is one of the greatest humour writers of our time. Some people are just destined for greatness.

  3. Cindy Says:

    Could it have been a pre-season game in late June?

  4. jim Says:

    Maybe it didn’t really happen at all. You know I have always been a bit strange.

    Cindy, I’m sorry to say that Overtime Central owns all of my intellectual property. So far I feel they’ve been holding me down. It’s all politics you know.

  5. Jon Says:

    Yep, we’ve got Jim locked up in a long term contract. Thankfully he did not look at the contract more closely when he signed. We own everything he produces, every word out of his mouth, in perpetuity. All for 3 mojos a year.

  6. jim Says:

    mmmmmmmmmm… mojos

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