Tag Archives: gentleman

The Road Referee

Share The Road signIn my post, “10 Things I Will Miss About the Bus”, I explained that after 35 years, I was no longer taking the bus to work, due to a relocation of my office that made the bus commute impractical and a very long journey.

Believe it or not, after 35 years of taking the bus, there was some uncertainty as to whether I would be fine with driving. I was so used to getting on the bus, getting into the cone of silence of noise-cancelling headphones, and zoning out either by reading, catching up on social media, writing a few passages for the next blog, or just dozing off. Clearly, one cannot do that behind the wheel.

But in addition, I wondered if I had what enough of the prerequisite it took to become a daily driver: patience.

Initially, one might think that it is an easy transition and a no-brainer to go from busing to driving, but the prospect of driving was met with some trepidation especially with winter just around the corner. Would my patience hold up, day in and day out, in bumper-to-bumper traffic?

The answer surprised me. Not only did my patience hold up, frankly I mellowed out to a degree I would never have imagined.

It is not that I was a hothead or aggressive by any stretch of the imagination. It was just that even as a weekend driver, I did have a tendency of getting a little irritated from time to time navigating around the extremes of driving, as much from the bullies as from the very timid, finding myself caught somewhere in the middle.

Since the transition to the daily drive, I have witnessed more bad driving than I could ever imagine. On a weekly basis, I see people looking at their phones, eating complete breakfasts, applying make-up, or seemingly spring cleaning their vehicle.

While I think it is a lot to expect that everyone would be textbook-perfect drivers according to the driver’s handbook we all studied in high school, the challenge is navigating the creative variations people develop and their interpretation of the rules of the road.

In facing this reality day in and day out, I find myself playing referee between the extremes. Continue reading


Filed under Humour

The Perfect Greeting Card

Card If you are ever looking for me over the spring months, I can often be found in greeting card shops or the card section of department stores and pharmacies. Between Easter, Mother’s Day and a big cluster of family birthdays in those months, the search is always on for the perfect greeting cards.

Even though there are many alternatives available in the electronic age, giving a card is a ritual I still enjoy and to a certain extent, I take to heart. I think it is an opportunity to offer someone a well-deserved tribute and a gesture of kindness and celebration, in a world where positive energy is sometimes in short supply.

You would think that as a writer, the most natural thing would be to pick out a nice blank card and then just create the perfect personalized verse inside. You would think that for someone who has been referred to as “relentlessly cheerful” and as a fountain of clichés of encouragement, creating a card would be a breeze. But it is not.

For some reason, I feel incredible pressure to not only make it good, but to make it perfect… after all, these are words that will be sitting on their mantle for a few days or weeks. If I screw it up in any way, there is a matter of posterity to contend with. In attempting to do so, I would probably fall into analysis paralysis and working on the verse of a card longer than the card would actually be up on the mantle.

That being the case, while finding a card that offers the perfect words may seem like a lofty goal, it can be time saver and can definitely be worth a few dollars.

I am not above picking a card with a cute pun, a light joke or one that perpetuates an appropriate cliché of some sort, I have bought a few of those. But because I like the ceremony of the experience, I prefer the opportunity to patiently peruse the card racks (sometimes to the point of going into a trance) until I get to that “Eureka!” moment. Continue reading

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Filed under Humour, Inspiring, Misc blogs, Writing

What Was Your Name Again?

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES Back when I was a kid, I remember sometimes being my parents’ “Rolodex”, a talking version of their address book of friends’ names and addresses. I am pretty sure that is how Siri got her start. They did not even have to open their vinyl-backed green book, sitting on the telephone table in the hallway, they just had to ask “André, do you remember Matante’s number?” and the 7 digits would be automatically yelled out of my very blue bedroom. In retrospect, I probably should have charged them for the “411”. I could have made some serious money.

In high school, it was much of the same. I could remember my friends’ names, birthdays, phone numbers, as well as their siblings’ and parents’ names. In a few cases, I might have remembered addresses and if you were part of the inner circle, I probably knew your postal code by heart too since we probably sent cards and letters to each other, our version of texting in the 1980’s.

But something happened… Continue reading


Filed under 50+, Humour

The Fine Line Between Compliments and Sucking Up

Call me Pollyanna, but I wish we could go back to a kinder, gentler time when a compliment was just that: a compliment.

Unfortunately, people have their “BS (bullshit) detectors” set so high that compliments are not often received in the good-natured spirit with which they were offered. In today’s reality, instinct (not to mention, survival) tells us to run them through filters for negative attributes first:

“he must want to sell me something”

“he must want money”

“he must want to climb the corporate ladder”

“he must be a suck up”

The sad part is that with each moment that is spent running the compliment through harsh negative filters, we diminish the generosity with which it was intended, we take away the random act of kindness it represented and we devalue its intended purpose: a genuine opportunity for human acknowledgement. Isn’t the latter what we are all looking for?

This is not new and frankly I have spent much of my life being called a “suck up”, because Continue reading

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My Guilty Pleasure: Project Runway

While watching the 13th season finale of Project Runway, I could not help but reflect on how the television program just keeps getting better, season after season. The talented designers have been stellar from the beginning and I am blown away by the creativity and the designs that have been produced.

Why does it strikes a chord with me? I have always been fascinated by reality competition shows involving the creative process. It did not matter if it was fashion, hair styling, home decor, home renovation competitions, I watched them all. Several have come and gone, but Project Runway has held its own and is still on the air 13 seasons later.

I have always been fascinated to hear where artists get their inspiration, what makes them tick, what they prefer to create, how their process works, what habits or rituals they have and do they have parents or siblings who are also artistically inclined?

I am curious about the latter because my great aunt was a private dressmaker who made fancy dresses and bridal gowns for her clients. It was her passion and she produced exquisite works of art for well over 40 years.

Also, my mom tells a story of when I was 2 years old, she was creating her Christmas dress and when she stepped away momentarily as busy moms sometimes do, I got into the scissors and Continue reading


Filed under Humour, Inspiring, Misc blogs, pop culture, TV

What is the Statute of Limitations on Weekends?

I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say I am one of those chronically cheerful people who likes to wish people “Have a good weekend” and a few days later will ask “How was your weekend?” I have been that way almost as long as I can remember. It is one of those social graces that was instilled in me at a very young age which I think still has its place in modern society. Some might disagree, thinking that small talk is useless or out of fashion, but that’s OK, I will just save the question for an extrovert who is positively dying to share what a fabulous time they had.

Typically (not to mention, logically) Fridays are the ideal time to wish people to “have a good weekend” and Mondays are perfect for asking people “How was your weekend?” However, the variety of personal circumstances, flexible work arrangements and floating holidays has really made it challenging to navigate the calendar appropriately to extend the Continue reading


Filed under Humour, Misc blogs

The Love-Hate Relationship


On my journey through life, two words have consistently held special meaning for me. These two words have been known to warm the cockles of my heart, they have made me weak in the knees and they have even gotten me into trouble a few times by falling in love at first sight. Those two words are “NO IRON”!

Ironing was a life skill that was instilled at a very young age in our house. Having been raised by a Dad with a military background, it should come as no surprise that the “spit and polish” approach to shoe shining and the necessity for perfectly creased, crisp shirts would become my destiny in life.

That’s not always a good thing though as I can still Continue reading

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A Kinder, More Gentle Journey

A collection of lit tea lights, arranged in the shape of a heartWhenever I am on a flight, I find it interesting that when the flight attendants are delivering the pre-flight instructions, they always suggest to “take care of your own oxygen mask first, before assisting others”. As an analogy on life, I think it is a great one. I don’t think anyone will disagree that you need to look after your own interests first, but I think as a society we are losing sight of our friends’ oxygen masks!

One of the TV personalities I genuinely enjoy and admire is Tim Gunn, the mentor for the designers on “Project Runway”. I have always thought that he had a solid balance of gentlemanly cool, kindness, tact and diplomacy (while still being able to tell it like it is), qualities that I am continuously working to refine. I am almost finished reading Mr. Gunn’s book “Gunn’s Golden Rules – Life’s Little Lessons for Making it Work” and am even more captivated by his perspective on life because it truly resonates with me.

In his book, he provides tips and hints for “making it work” (his catch phrase on Project Runway) in all disciplines of life. Where he really struck a chord with me is his questioning of where good manners, kindness and respect have seemingly gone out of fashion.

I don’t think my parents and family spent a ridiculous amount of time in my childhood drilling the importance of “please”, “thank you” and respecting my elders. Things like shaking the hand of a grown-up always made me feel like a grown-up when I was being indoctrinated into such gentlemanly rituals, and I gobbled up all such learning opportunities they provided on my quest to becoming a young gentleman.

I do remember that before we went out, there was always a short “briefing” about how I should behave in this setting, which I think went a long way in establishing parameters and ways to behave, where and when appropriate. Sometimes they were followed up afterwards with a few footnotes of positive reinforcement or pointing out where I could do better next time. Knowing from such a young age that such distinctions existed made it a given in adult life and – I would like to think – show the respect we have for our peers in social settings.

I am not suggesting we all need to stand around in tuxedos, sipping tea, speaking in “Downton Abbey” dialects, but rather that day-to-day social graces like holding a door open, waiting one’s turn, waiting until people get off an elevator or public transit before storming in, should not be the abnormality. I don’t know of anyone who dislikes or disapproves of basic good manners, so why is it such a discouraging exception?

I find it interesting when random acts of kindness make the headlines. Shouldn’t a kind and gentle society be engaging in these all the time to such an extent that it shouldn’t make the news.  I am certain that there are a combination of factors and perceptions that suggest why that is, maybe it is a perception of a sign of weakness rather than alpha dominance in a dog-eat-dog world, perhaps it is just forgetfulness with no follow-up coaching on common sense, or perhaps have good manners really gone out of fashion?

In any case, I don’t think it is too steep of a price to pay respect to a total stranger by offering a smile, a nod and a “Good morning” when the occasion presents itself, or to say politely and gently “Excuse me” when someone runs into me with a grocery cart, in the hopes that it generates a reminder to people that they weren’t in fact raised in a barn. It may sound a bit of a Pollyanna perspective on things but I’d like to think that the positive energy of respect, honour, grace and generosity of spirit is contagious. If good manners really did go out of style, I would like to think that the tide could turn and they could come back in style… as most fashions eventually do!

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Have a great day,

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