Print Edition: April 9, 2014
A lesson through his eyes
You just want to take your daughter to the park. But there’s an unkempt man at the edge of the park with a bottle of vodka, taking a swig.
You clutch her hand tighter. She squeezes back, smiling, doesn’t seem to see the danger. The swingset beckons invitingly. This place was supposed to have been cleaned up — you don’t remember seeing anyone shifty when they were holding the music concerts last summer, but now you’re alone. He drinks again, tilting his head back, facing the playground.
It’s not your fault if this guy lives on the street. Why should you have to suffer?
Looking through your eyes, I see how fear can trump compassion. I used to live downtown. I remember my heart used to pound when I walked home from the bus stop after dark.
I’ve also felt my heart clench in sympathy, seeing a sleeping bag snugged underneath a bush.
Suffering is not one person’s fault. But we can all do something to ease it.
I wonder how we would view homelessness as a city if we could see through his eyes.
Instant coffee only comes from a machine
A lot of the time when I go to the Tim Horton’s on campus, I want my coffee — and I want it now.
However, I work at a restaurant. I know how hectic it can get when someone runs up to the counter, mumbles a hastily put-together sentence that may or may not have included the word “coffee,” and hands you a fistful of coins, only to stand a few feet away, fidgeting with their phone, checking the time every 20 seconds.
They need their coffee and they need it now. Scratch that, they needed it yesterday. We sometimes fail to notice the person at the till isn’t even the person making the coffee, and usually another order is being taken care of before ours.
Yet we still demand a piping-hot coffee and donuts in record time. So, Tim Horton’s employees, the next time you receive a hastily-mumbled order and some random coins, mixed in with a paperclip or two, remember — if we were in your shoes, we too would probably withdraw into a state from which only several, very expensive, therapy sessions could bring us back to reality.
When schoolwork starts getting me down — usually around the same time I start falling behind on sleep — I start seeing faces in everything.
The handle of a drawer becomes a mouth and a nearby cupboard knob becomes an eye. My kitchen is smiling! The grill of a car looks like teeth. That vehicle is mad! The leaves in that tree are waving in a way that looks like the hair of a woman in a shampoo commercial. Herbal Essences, anyone? (Get it? Herbal essences? Because herbs are plants?)
My bookshelf makes a face at me. My furniture makes a face at me. My computer screen turns into one big shiny eye to match the toothy grin of my keyboard.
It’s just a trick of perception — like learning to find the hidden image in one of those secret picture eye-benders — but once you start seeing them it’s hard to stop.
And that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes it’s nice to stop seeing everything so intently for a minute and let a little whimsy into my vision.