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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

It Wasn't My Buggy!

I came out of the grocery store with my one bag of groceries and headed towards my car.  I gently tossed the bag in the passenger side and got in. Just as I started the car up, a driver in an SUV came up behind me with the obvious intention of taking the empty parking spot beside me.

I waited as he drove in, but then he stopped before he had fully pulled into the spot, effectively blocking me from pulling out. I thought there was some reason that he had to stop, so I waited a little longer.

Eventually, I looked over at him and realized he was also looking at me and just sitting there. Then it occurred to me that he was unable to fully pull into his spot because there was an empty shopping buggy, the front of which was just sticking into the spot he was trying to drive into.

What also dawned on me slowly was that he thought I had left the buggy there.

I tried to signal that I was not the one who left it there, but then he began to slowly shake his head at me as if trying to shame me. For something I didn't do.  There were plenty of parking spots around, but he chose to stay exactly where he was and stare at me in condemnation, keeping me pretty much trapped. I couldn't move, so there was nothing to do but get out of my car. I thought of the futility of again trying to tell him it wasn't my buggy and by this time I was completely frustrated, so I went over to the buggy and moved it. Of course, how lame would it be to only move it so he could get in the spot? So I took it all the way over to the cart drop off. I was fuming as I started walking back towards my car. I was going to tell him! But by this time he had exited his car and was in the grocery store.

So I jumped in my car, fumbled around in my purse and found a notepad and a pen and with shaking hands, I wrote a note. I put the note on his windshield. It said "IT WASN'T MY BUGGY! HAVE A NICE DAY." All upper case. Just like that.

It wasn't the first thing I thought of writing. And I've thought of at least a million wittier things to say since then. But you know, in the heat of the moment, the smartest, funniest, wittiest things don't always come to mind. Just the rude ones.

I'm glad I didn't write down any of those.

Feeling better now that's off my chest....

Saturday, November 14, 2015

It's A Shame

If you are on Facebook, you've seen the posts. Sometimes they are "suggested posts", sometimes the posts come from your Facebook friends.

They want to shame you.

A recent one is the Starbucks red cup controversy. I'm not going to go into too many details, you can check the link yourself if you haven't already heard about it. Essentially, some people don't like what the red cup means, or doesn't mean. What's really fascinating, though, is the shaming that came out because of that controversy.

There are people starving, kids without water, people dying...you know the drill. You had that happen to you when you were a kid and you didn't eat everything on your plate. That kind of shaming. It's not that I think the red cup squabble is important. It isn't. But the fact that we want to shame each other every time some silly controversy pops up on Twitter or Facebook makes me wonder where this desire to shame comes from and how necessary it really is.

Of COURSE there are bad things going on all over the world all the time. That goes without saying. The people who want to put you in your place have a problem with you not paying attention to things they think are more important. Social media has given them a virtual megaphone to do it even more loudly than before. And they love it when their shaming goes viral!

Here is the most recent one that has my knickers in a knot.

The slaughter of 126+ people in Paris, not to mention the hundreds who were injured, brought out a huge wave of outrage, sympathy and compassion all over the world. There have been vigils, monuments have been lit with the colours of the French flag, world leaders have condemned the actions of these disgusting extremists, it has left us all in shock.

But someone out there has found a way to shame us because we didn't react in the same way to the 45 people who were recently killed in Beirut.

Let's put it in perspective here: it isn't because some people's lives are more important than others. It's because we can relate more to some than others. That sounds cruel, but think about it for a moment. If your old neighbour gets killed and somebody that you don't know who lives a few streets away also gets killed, are you going to cry for them equally? It's not even just a matter of proximity or geography. But the chances are that those of us in the west have more likely visited Paris or have met someone from France. In fact several of my Facebook friends posted earlier pictures of themselves by the Eiffel Tower after the shootings. Should these people not post their pictures unless they have one to post of themselves in Beirut?

We react to what we relate to. No matter how compassionate and loving a person you are, you are not going to cry for everything and everyone equally. Certain events and people mean more to you than others.

And an outpouring of sorrow, love and support for anyone should never be shamed.

In fact, a comment someone made when I posted my support for Paris, had a really good point. Take this opportunity to smile at someone or hug someone or just to be positive. Do that instead of raging. Or shaming. Get off your high horse and BE the person you desire everyone else to be.

IJ

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

40 Years Flew By

They wandered in one by one, glancing around, some of them nervously looking to find someone they recognized. And inevitably they would break into a big grin when a familiar face finally came towards them. But this wasn't a high school dance.

My husband and I were a little early, thinking we'd grab something to eat before the rest of the Steveston Grads of '75 began to arrive at our 40th grad reunion. There were only a handful of them there when we arrived at the pub, so we said hello and wrote our names on little paper name tags, and updated our email addresses on the big list of fellow graduates. The first order of business for me was a big glass of wine...who knew what the evening would bring? I planted myself at one of the tables, eager to find out.

Thirty years ago at our 10th reunion, most people were talking about their new jobs and careers, handing out business cards, still sticking to their little high school cliques. And I swear some people were wearing the same clothes as they did when we graduated. A few of us were married by then, and I was expecting my first child.

At our 20th, I was there by myself so several of the guys kept bringing me glasses of wine. That's about as much as I can remember.

Ten years ago at our 30th reunion, I remember thinking the women were gorgeous and the men...well, I actually mistook one of them for a teacher! Yes, the wear and tear of middle age was certainly upon us by then. But it was delightful to see everyone and we had a great time.

And now here we were at our 40th, a more casual event than the other reunions had been. Two of our wonderful fellow graduates started to put things in motion a couple of months ago when it looked like nothing was going to happen this year. They reserved an area of a Richmond pub, and we all used word of mouth and social media this time to try and spread the word. In 1975, who would even have known that the phrase "social media" would someday exist and bring us all together like this?

With each new person that entered the pub, I waited for a flicker of familiarity. Some looked almost exactly as they had in high school. Many I had to stare at for awhile because I wasn't sure. Others I would never have recognized if it weren't for their name tags.

I was thrilled when my old friend Judy walked in. I recognized her immediately, even though we hadn't seen each other since we graduated. She had never received any notifications for previous reunions, so this was her first. I jumped up from my table and we gave each other a big hug. In fact, there were many hugs and handshakes and how-the-hell-are-you's all evening. Some counted around 50 or 60 people, not bad for 40 years later.

Along with the many chats I had, I caught snippets of other conversations and got caught up on a lot of people's stories. Some of us are now grandparents or recently retired. There are no cliques any more. As Judy said, you couldn't tell a football hero from a drama geek. We are all now somehow on a level playing field. We've all been worn and somewhat humbled by life, some of us more than others. We have many stories to tell, losses we've suffered through, triumphs we've enjoyed. And, sadly, there are the stories of those of us who are no longer around.

It's sobering to look at the faces of a group of people nearing 60, and realize that they must see you the same way, even if you don't feel that way inside. I used to think that death was the great leveller, but now I actually think time is a greater one. When we were 18, we thought we knew it all. We thought we could change everything. We had no notion of anything ending. Going out into the world was exciting, scary, and full of possibilities. I wondered as I watched my fellow grads the other night, were they happy with their lives? Disappointed? Did the world live up to their expectations?

I'm sure the answers would be mixed.

My old friend Craig had managed to hang on to his graduation dance card, so that made the rounds. A copy of our high school annual was also there making the rounds. That annual came in real handy when you couldn't recognize a face! People were taking lots of pictures of the crowd and selfies with each other. I didn't see one business card exchanged. What we did for a living seemed just a very small part of our stories now.  It was more about reconnecting, reminiscing and enjoying each other's company. And that, we certainly did.

We vowed that we weren't going to wait another ten years to get together again. Ten years, in many respects, is a lot longer for us these days. So our next reunion will be five years from now.  Yikes. That's 2020.

Needless to say, unlike times past, my husband and I were in bed by 11.

We were the Steveston Grads of '75. And then 40 years flew by.

**********************************************


Steveston High School, Class of '75




Craig's dance card







And just for fun, here are some of the things a few people wrote in my annual:

Irene,
I hope one day I'll hear you on the radio.
J. D.

To the girl with the voice of a "meadow lark" and a great friend.
S. B.

Irene
Thanks for picking me up off the floor on grad night.
W. M. 
(I sincerely don't remember that incident)

Irene,
If you're not getting it regularly, phone me.
T. L. 
(yes, he wrote that)

Irene,
Good luck and best wishes.
M.W. 
(my future husband...romantic, eh?)