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Some positive thoughts to share with friendly stranger

Joyce Walter reflects on the question, "how's it going?"
Reflective Moments by Joyce Walter

“How’s it going?” the man asked as I went into the bank to retrieve my pension earnings for the month.

“I’m doing OK,” I responded, unwilling to tell this perfect stranger all my personal trials and tribulations. I knew he certainly didn’t want to hear about any aches and pains I might be experiencing, he being a few wrinkles older and navigating with a walker equipped with a cane, water bottle, some other odds and ends in the basket and what appeared to be some mis-matched mitts.

“How about you? Did you have a good Christmas?” I asked him. He smiled, said he spent it with his grandson, and then it was his turn with the teller. He gave me a jaunty wave as he manoeuvred towards the exit. 

Soon I too was on my way, thinking of all the things I might have told him that most definitely would have been a “downer” in contrast to his upbeat mood.

For instance, I could have told him how long it took me to dismantle the ice on my vehicle after that miserable rain-snow combination. My gas tank was no longer past the full mark by the time the engine warmed and the defrost did its job inside while outside I scraped and hammered slightly to get the ice to go away. One needed safety glasses as the ice chards flew in all directions.

On a positive note, he would have been happy that I did not slide under the vehicle as I stepped off the ice-covered step to begin my ministrations against ice and snow. I was happy, and relieved, as well. Thankfully my very old ice studs I wear still work wonders to keep me aloft, not gracefully but still vertically.

I could have also dampened his spirits by complaining about the street conditions. On a recent day after dark, while out viewing after-Christmas lights, we travelled west on Athabasca Street. At my snail’s pace, I figured I would be able to make it home safely. I thought too soon as suddenly I was in a slide and spin towards the opposite side of the street. Thankfully the street was deserted and I was able to gain control before making a drive-through into the local meat market. 

On a positive note, we had just visited Wakamow Valley to view the lights and went through the route twice to be sure we hadn’t missed anything on the first pass. What a beautiful experience, with kudos to the Wakamow staff and volunteers. And how about Henry, the well-lit moose standing proudly along the path.

On another positive note, a trip south on First Avenue brought us a sight that made us laugh and smile. There was a line-up of slow-moving vehicles coming towards us, led like a parade marshal by a well-antlered deer. It seemed unafraid and to their credit, none of the drivers behind it honked their horns to make the animal move faster. It was a Kodak moment but our Kodak-holder was at home. Later that evening we saw several more deer on two sides of Crescent Park — maybe looking for their friend from First Avenue.

Instead of sharing those positive moments, I could have lamented the dangerous conditions in the parking lots of grocery stores and other outlets.  So far I have escaped being backed into by a driver who forgot to check whatever might be behind him, whether another vehicle or a pedestrian. I have also been narrowly missed by a guy driving against the arrow to get to a parking spot on the other side. Perhaps he didn’t see the arrow and couldn’t understand the grumpy looks and finger-pointing from other drivers. And those back-up lights shouldn’t be taken as an invitation to stand there visiting with a friend, or leaving the empty grocery cart in the reverse pathway.

On a positive note, I might have shared my relief at being spared dangerous consequences of parking lot madness. I know my new friend would have applauded my happy moments. He’s lucky he didn’t hang around long enough to get an earful of my not-so-positive thoughts.

But thanks for asking “how’s it going?”  

Joyce Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication. 


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