Posted by: Noni | January 31, 2010

Observations on Canadian Niceties

This is my first post from WordPress for Blackberry…very exciting!
It’s the last Sunday in January and I am sitting in the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal Quay Market waiting for the 11am sailing to Victoria. I was supposed to catch the 9 o’clock boat but when I arrived at the foot passenger ticketing office the agent told me that they were shut down already. “It’s only ten to nine!” I’m breathless from the trek across the parking lot. “We shut down ten minutes prior to sailing. Everybody knows that.” Well I didn’t! I ask if there are any alternatives… can I hitch a ride in a car that’s driving on? She seemed unconcerned with my dilemma and notifies me I have 2 minutes to accomplish the impossible. So…
I charge out across the chain link fence enclosed, massive expanse of rain drenched asphalt and attempt to prove her wrong. I literally miss the last car by inches. My feet throb inside my Ralph Loren pumps, not my usual track shoes, and I look hopelessly at the women in the ticket booth for vehicles. It’s a much kinder reception from this particular BC Government Employee. She expresses sincere regret and apologizes then sells me a ticket for the 11am crossing to the island. Now I have 2 hours to kill. I sit with my Zen green tea and pumpkin scone from a popular coffee bar and stare out the window at the dismal grey sky.
It serves me right for being late. I woke up very early and decided that since I hadn’t heard from my cousin we must be taking the 11am ferry. I was packed and ready to go. All my clothes carefully chosen and laid out, my batteries on chargers and knapsack at the ready… all I had to do was get up and jump in the shower. I lay there half awake, half dozing… listening to the generator hum from the excavation site in the road at the front of the house. We must be taking the 11… I convince myself. I briefly consider calling Tom (my cousin) to confirm but decide that at 7:20 on Sunday morning it’s a bit early to make phone calls. I shut the snooze off on my mobile alarm and moments later drift off…. The ringing of the phone wakes me up and I know that I better hustle to get out the door in time. Shower, dress, load car, jockey the tandem parking spot to get clear… and I’m off. Should never have procrastinated and denied listening to that inner voice that practically screamed for me to call Tom.
The good news is that I can still make it in time for the memorial service. Today we’re celebrating the lifelong accomplishments of my Uncle Mike. Michael Young was a great man. I doubt he hit the snooze button very often. I see a group of well dressed Rotarians congregate at a table behind me and I presume that they are likely headed to the services as well. Beside his many years in municipal, provincial, federal politics and business Uncle Mike was incredibly active in community and public service. Despite being diagnosed with terminal illness he continued to participate in civic duties and give selflessly of his precious time to children’s charities. I am honored to have been his niece and humbled by the memory of his deeds. Note to self: DO SOMETHING IMPORTANT IN HIS HONOR
Missing the ferry didn’t turn out so bad after all. I had some time to reflect on life. Watched the citizens of British Columbia in action; some observations being:
Woman picking up cigarette butts from the patio area outside the coffee shop. She is using a paper bag to collect the offending trash. Paper instead of plastic… which is less offensive in landfills.
Smoker sitting on bench also watching the butt collection process. She has several butts at her feet which she now looks at disapprovingly. In her disgust she is goaded into searching for a non-existent ashtray… ends up stubbing out the cig and handing it to the woman with the paper sack of filters.
A standoff at the doorway. A group of men are attempting to enter. One of them holds open the door for an elderly couple who are still a few feet from exiting. They wave for the men to come in… they refuse and gesture for the seniors to pass first. Both groups are smiling and exercising extreme manners. One group yielding to the first arrivals at the entrance, the others deferring to the age before beauty and brains. Eventually they both cram through simultaneously and cause giggles and more jovial niceties to be exchanged.
A young mother brings her daughter close to a sitting area in front of a big gas fireplace with Native Indian artwork displayed above the mantle. She shows her daughter how beautiful the fire is and points out the brightly painted wooden carvings. The girl is about 8 years old and although completely unimpressed she agrees with her mum and suggests that they have their snack there instead of back in the car.
A blond woman in her late 40’s or early 50’s passes by with a man and younger women in her twenties. I swear that it’s Linda Aldred who I attended elementary school with 40 years ago. I wait to see if she comes back and vow to call her name as she passes to see if it really is her. Unfortunately she never passes again… I will cruise the decks on the ferry to see if I can spot her… (no luck there either) I sit and reminisce about my school days in Victoria.
A voice announces that it’s time to board the 11am sailing and I am forced out of my daydream and back to reality. The Rotarians collect me and bring me to their car. Now as I sit in the little booth on the upper deck typing on my mini netbook, I am reminded of all the trips back and forth to the island when I was younger. The ferries were much different then. No fancy lounge with bar service. No computer desks with lights and plug-ins (yeah, no need back in the 60’s and 70’s since laptops were a long way from being invented yet)
I smile inwardly as I spin the phase in my mind “memorial services make you think about your past” I thank Uncle Mike for this last lesson in life. Not only am I remembering him today but I am recalling special moments from my own life. New NOTE to self: Take time each day to do that…

Michael Young Mayor Victoria 1975-1979

Michael Young Mayor Victoria 1975-1979

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