What’s the one thing more difficult to do than getting toothpaste back into the tube, or settling the differences between Israel and Palestinians, or solving the climate change conundrum?
If your answer is installing new windshield wiper blades on a 1995 VW Eurovan, you’re right. That was the first of several delightful situations we were involved in last week during our 1,200 km road trip.
Juliet and I were parked at Brockville’s Bockhouse Island (which hasn’t been an island since c.1850). We had tried every permutation and combination of installing the new wiper blade before the rumbling black clouds unleashed a torrent.
Along came a young man with his wife and toddler. “Need some help?” With the dexterity of a pickpocket and a magician, with an instantaneous click, click, he snapped it into place. Then came the rain.
Later, as Juliet struggled to descend out of the van outside a grocery store, a lady almost as old as her said, “At our age, it’s difficult, isn’t it? Need a hand?”
That gesture made me realize it was time for me to ‘pay it forward’. By the time Juliet was back with the bananas, oranges and salad makings, I’d been able to help two women load their groceries into their cars, and return five carts to their corral.
Then, at Johnstown Harbour, the sight of CSL’s bulk carrier Whitefish Bay enticed us to pull over to take a photo of the enormous mountain of road salt it had unloaded. There, inside the confines of the high security gate was a solitary figure, one of the crew, being drenched by a downpour.
“What you doing out here?”
“I’m trying to go to the Giant Tiger over there to get some sodas and snacks, but I can’t get out. Someone was supposed to come to open the gate, but they’re a no-show.”
Once again, it was time for us to pay it forward: Juliet explored the several port buildings. Unlocked door; lights on; a radio blaring, discarded safety gear – but nobody there! It was as if The Rapture (Matthew 24:37–40) had taken place.
Eventually, a service vehicle arrived and released the would-be shopper. “The Giant Tiger you can see is their mega distribution centre, not a retail outlet. We’ll take you into town to do your shopping.”
His errands done, we took him back to the fenced-in port. The photo shows what he had to do to get back to his ship.
I then explained to my wife, “I’ll drop you off at Tim’s so you can use the washroom.” Unfortunately, it was the exit door. The entrance was at the far side of the building. At once, a gentleman, noting the rain, left his place at the table and opened the door for her. I parked the van. Instantly, a teenager at another table gestured to me and opened the door for me.
I told him, “Your mom and dad sure did a good job of bringing you up.”
These incidents reminded me of the pleasure of passing it forward.