I used to pride myself on my punctuality. It wasn’t like I was in some sort of contest or anything, but to me, punctuality meant respect for other people and their valuable time.
That being the case, I always did my very best to leave early enough to arrive on time.
My goal was always to arrive early, but not too early either and rob myself of precious minutes from my time-starved existence.
With years of experience, commuting by car and by bus, I became pretty skillful at predicting how much extra time to allow, when factoring in bad weather, construction and traffic congestion on any given day. As a result, I often enjoyed that sweet spot of arriving about five minutes early for most appointments.
The fact that my early-but-not-too-early arrivals were pretty consistent was a great source of pride. It got to a point that I considered it my superpower.
Needless to say, on those rare occasions when Murphy’s Law (or weather, or construction, or traffic accidents) played against me and I showed up late for something, I was beyond apologetic that my superpower had failed me.
But then three life events happened that have totally messed up my superpower: the pandemic, moving to the country and retirement. Continue reading
Filed under 50+, Humour, stories
“Could I help the next person in line?” the cashier yelled as she opened her checkout line.
I was the next person in line.
But before I had time to take my three small items off the conveyor belt, the two people behind me had scurried over to the new checkout line like rats running with a slice of pizza in a New York subway.
I had no opportunity to take my rightful place in the line of the new checkout.
Still, I stood there horrified. Compounded by the aggressiveness and determination with which the two people behind me jumped over, I wasn’t sure if I was witnessing a scene at a grocery store or a National Geographic special featuring lions closing in on their prey.
Back when I was a kid, that offence would have been worthy of a time-out and one or two weeks’ allowance. As well, it would have been compounded with a guilt trip started by a long glare with disappointed eyes and a suspiciously calm, “Didn’t I raise you better than that?”
I’ll never forget those times… wonderful childhood memories!
But also, important life lessons.
Yet, on a daily basis, the underlying “Me first, and screw everybody else” self-entitled attitude bewilders me. I see it on the roads, I see it in malls, I see it on vacation… I see it pretty much everywhere. Continue reading
I’d like to think that I treat people with kindness, class, respect and dignity. The only thing is that being consistent in that regard can become difficult when that treatment is not reciprocated. Similarly, it is hard to be gracious when I am met with negativity and judgement.
As I found out, I seem to be quite sensitive to the energy around me. Negative energy can be pretty contagious.
That being the case, I often found myself stepping back from certain situations and wondering to myself, “Am I being too sensitive”?
Intuitively, to survive in our sometimes not-so-kind world, I managed to develop a thick skin and just enough armour to make my way through life without getting trampled or taken advantage of… most times. And those who did cross the line remained on my “naughty” list for years to follow. Some might call it a grudge, but I prefer to call it a defense mechanism to prevent it from happening again.
As I head into the second half of my life, I realize that being empathetic, kind-hearted and sensitive is my natural way of being, and that’s OK. My challenge is that I tend to be overly sensitive to others’ feelings, and that I worry about it… a lot. And then my resilience pays the price.
Most time, it is not a horrible problem in itself. What a wonderful world it would be if people actually did take a moment to care a little more about others rather than taking people down a peg, giving people a piece of their mind, and losing sight of the fact that we are all human beings. Continue reading
I was at the movie theatre one night, on the edge of my seat, holding my breath, when Dame Judi Dench was in the middle of a long pause, about to utter with masterful precision the words that will earn her next Academy Award nomination… when I was suddenly blinded by a bright blue screen, from the idiot in front of me, checking her phone.
Needless to say, I was devastated to have been dragged out of the precious moment where I completely escaped my own life, to live vicariously through the characters of this cinematic masterpiece. I felt robbed.
I leaned over and whispered sternly, “That’s very distracting!” The idiot turned back and gave me a glare like she was the offended one.
Are you kidding me?
After she turned around, I offered her my look of scorn and severe disdain with one eyebrow raised and one lowered, accompanied by a middle-finger salute, a gesture I reserve for the rare few who crack through my calm exterior and get my blood instantly boiling. With that done, I was able to let it go and reconnect with the movie.
I don’t know why but lately, it seems that every visit to a theatre has at least one person checking their phone during the movie which is completely unfair to the rest of the movie patrons.
A movie theatre is a place where people go to escape from day-to-day reality. It’s a place to forget one’s troubles, to get inspired and to be taken away to a different world. Continue reading
Regular readers of my blog might remember a couple of posts in which I talk about how other artists inspire me as a writer, even when their works of art come from other creative disciplines.
Musicians who can pick up an instrument, anytime, anywhere, and start playing beautiful music are mind-blowing to me. I am also in awe of singers who can not only carry a tune, but bring such depth and complexity to a song by smartly using their “instrument”. It is also a joy to behold when an actor can take a script and breathe such life into a role that I am able to completely suspend judgement and believe in a fictional character.
I especially envy visual artists who can take a pencil and a sheet of paper and produce picture-perfect images worthy of a gallery showing.
In high school, while certain teachers droned on in that Charlie Brown teacher’s voice, I remember looking over at my artist friends during class, pencils blazing over whatever piece of paper (or flat surface) was at their disposal. Blank pages were magically transformed into masterpieces with images of eyes, faces or pets from different angles, and all from the perspective of their mind’s eye.
There was seemingly no struggle to their process. They did not stare at a blank page, think hard about it, draw, erase, draw, erase and start over. It just seemed to flow out of them like they were on auto-pilot. They made it look effortless. Continue reading
A couple of months ago, I overheard a young lady and her colleague on the elevator, in a conversation that went something like this:
“Are you going to the pizza lunch?”
“Yes, I guess we have to. It’s mandatory.”
“Except for those people who asked for gluten-free.” She started shaking her head and continued, “Come on, it’s a free lunch.”
Ever since that conversation I still find myself shaking my head in disbelief that anyone could say something so unenlightened. Whether a person has an allergy, an intolerance, a medical condition, a dietary restriction or a preference, people’s food choices need to be respected. Period!
I suspect that the young lady in question probably does not have a family member with a food allergy or intolerance, for her to say that a lunch being free is a good reason to eat something that could pose an allergy risk.
In my case, wheat can turn my world completely upside down for about 24 hours. Imagine if you will, your absolute worst stomach flu, resulting in frequent, persistent, urgent and (please excuse the vulgarity) “explosive” trips to the washroom. Then add the sensation of something sharp painfully working its way through the digestive system. Continue reading
Salut tout le monde! Désolé si je n’écris pas plus souvent en français, mais j’avoue qu’en expression écrite, les mots me viennent plus facilement en anglais.
Cette fois, il me fallait absolument composer ce blogue en français parce que le sujet en question n’est pas commun au niveau de la langue anglaise. C’est la question de s’habituer à se faire appeler « vous ».
La première fois dont je me souviens m’être fait appeler « vous » c’était lors de mon premier vol Air Canada de Ottawa à Rouyn-Noranda en 1972. Une agente de bord bien charmante m’avait demandé ce que « vous voulez pour boire ». Quel honneur!
Franchement, il est bien possible m’avoir fait vouvoyer avant, mais c’était cette expérience très chic, sur un avion, qui a sans doute amplifié l’expérience et le souvenir pour un p’tit garçon de 7 ans comme moi. Ça m’avait vraiment chatouillé et marqué.
Au fil des années, on m’appelait « vous » de temps en temps, surtout dans le domaine du service à la clientèle. C’était bien respectueux. Ça faisait chaud au cœur. Le fait que c’était seulement à l’occasion le rendait encore plus spécial.
Mais dernièrement, « à l’occasion » est devenu une mensualité, qui est ensuite devenu hebdomadaire, et hélas, depuis que j’ai acquis mes 50 ans, ça fait presque partie de mon quotidien. Continue reading
As I mentally prepare for this year’s round of spring cleaning, I already dread opening that same box I open every year: the box of trophies and awards. Every year I am stumped with the same questions: keep them, toss them, donate them or repurpose them?
… And then they go back into the box as I defer the decision to the next year, and the next one, and the next one.
What makes the decision so difficult is that behind every trophy is a great deal of hard work, dedication, discipline, and blood, sweat and tears on my part. Of course the latter are just metaphorically speaking; Grade 8 in suburbia was far from “The Hunger Games”.
At the same time, behind every trophy is a judge or a panel of judges, who took time out of their busy schedules to consider my work and to so generously bestow this symbol of recognition.
To me, the trophy represents an act of extreme kindness and generosity, which still humbles me today, still elicits a great deal of gratitude and frankly, “guilts” me into hanging on to this symbol.
And then I consider the possibility that there may be a colleague who worked harder than I did, yet did not receive recognition for their accomplishment. They could possibly be thinking that I am an ungrateful brat for even considering tossing a trophy I received …37 years ago.
But the big question is this: at the time of the recognition, did the judge or panel of judges truly expect me to hang on to the trophy until I am pushing daisies? Continue reading
As we get into the home stretch for holiday and Christmas preparations, one cannot help but notice the Christmas music playing in shopping malls, in stores, on the radio and in every television commercial. One in particular that I have been really enjoying is “My Grown-Up Christmas List”. Composed in 1990 by David Foster and Linda Thompson, the tune is a timely reminder that Christmas is not just about consumerism but it is about kindness, good will, respect and generosity of spirit. Check out the lyrics, it really is a pretty song!
However, on a much less serious note, I find myself reinterpreting the song, time and time again, thinking how life would be so perfect if life’s minor annoyances were eradicated. This my friends, is my grown up Christmas list:
-Perforated products such as paper towels and toilet paper that will actually tear off on the provided perforations.
-For tissues to not explode in the washing machine.
-For the safe return of socks that have gone missing from the laundry.
-For TV networks to not conspire and load up Sunday evenings with some of the week’s best television shows and create a scheduling nightmare for my PVR.
-Football games that run long and exacerbate the problem of recording the multitude of programs I need to record on Sunday evenings.
-Cling wrap that actually clings to what you want it to cling to, not everything else… including itself. Continue reading