Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Eve 2008 -False Creek Vancouver.
Roads are impassable, buses stopped running but the Aqua Bus keeps chugging.

Despite the challenging weather conditions I had a spectacular time in Vancouver. I also discovered the beauty of living without technology and the opportunities to connect with others in the absence of technical self sufficiency.

Let me explain.

All my friends and family in Vancouver own cell phones. I love using technology but I purposefully nourish a healthy detachment from the lure of the latest and greatest gadgets. I guess I am one of the remaining 'cell phone resistors' left among people in my demographic. Sometimes I find myself stranded without immediate access to communication. This happened on my way home to Victoria.

The Pacific Coach Lines bus was suppose to pick me up at a designated stop that I previously arranged by phone (land line of course:); however, when I arrived at the stop and waited a few minutes the bus just zoomed by me despite my frantic waving and shouts to stop.

I found myself shivering in the freezing cold thinking about my options. I looked around me and saw a public phone across the street and a despised Cash Store behind me. I decided to go inside the Cash Store to see if they had a phone book I could borrow. As I entered the store I approached a bored looking employee behind bullet proof plexiglass. I asked for a phone book and without even looking away from her computer the employee said that she did not have a phone book. I took a breath and explained that I was visiting from out of town and expected to take the Pacific Coach Lines bus. I asked if she could look up the number of the PCL bus line on the computer. Her demeanor softened and she was very gracious and even printed out a sheet of numbers that I could use. Bolstered by this considerate response I walked back to the bus stop and asked an elderly gentleman if he had a cell phone that I could use. He couldn't speak English well but when I slowly explained my situation he phoned the PCL bus line for me. I'm not sure what he said since the traffic noise was ear splitting at that point but when he passed me his phone I heard a very apologetic representative say that the next bus would be along in 30 minutes and I would receive the ride to Victoria for free.

Randy Pausch said 'Sometimes you just have to wait a little longer to discover the best qualities in people'.
I witnessed the best qualities in several Vancouverites that day. Being a little vulnerable and not so self sufficient allowed me to experience the kindness of strangers.

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