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