Twelve-year-old Ricky Graham was delivering a stand-up routine in front of his classmates during lunch time. It was a merciless but accurate imitation of my mannerisms as a teacher. Unknown to him, I had just slipped into the unusually silent classroom. Several of his classmates were unsuccessfully trying to make him aware of my return.
When he finally turned around, he gasped. To his surprise, I smiled, saying “That’s okay Ricky. Please continue.” I went to the back of the classroom to join his classmates and take in the rest of his schtick.
Why did I not throw a fit at his comic impertinence? About seven years earlier, an impertinent grade XI student (me) swaggered into the crowded ‘study hall’ (as the detention room was euphemistically called) of Toronto’s St. Michael’s College School. Usually, it was full of chatter and horseplay, but that day there was nothing but silence.
I had the stage all to myself. I promptly commenced my hilarious imitation of ‘Shaky’ (properly known as Father Timmins, the school’s disciplinarian and vice-principal). Nobody laughed. It took me far too long to notice that you-know-who was sitting at the back of the room, glaring at me. After several moments of silence, he thundered out,
Taking the closest empty seat, “The quality of mercy is not strained.” was all that came to my mind. Seven years later, Ricky became the benefactor of the on-the-spot clemency granted by Shaky.
Part Three of this what goes around comes around trilogy: Larry and I were on the last day of a four-day canoe trip on a series of lakes and rivers north of Superior. It was cold, wet and windy. We were chilled, soaked, exhausted and down to the last of our supply of canned foods.
To our surprise, we came across two loggers who were using their workboat to corral stray logs that were cluttering up the river. They were more bedraggled than we were! Taking pity on their apparent plight, I shouted “We’re going to be setting up our tent nearby. Would you guys like share our hot beans and a canned ham with us?”
In reply, “Thanks, but we’re inviting you guys to come to our camp just down river. We’ll treat you.”
Their camp was the bunkhouse of a recently completed hydro project: brightly lit, electrically heated, walk-in refrigerated food storage; full kitchen facilities; bunks; showers. We became their overnight guests.
We had little to offer, but we were given much in return.