I want to tell you a story. Back in the late summer of 1986 I got my first job. I wasn’t looking for one. I could barely speak English, I certainly didn’t have a social insurance number which would allow me to work, and I was just a kid.

I did have a candy habit however. Almost every day I would walk to Gerry’s Variety Store, which was a very short walk from my apartment building, just to be surrounded by all that delicious candy and crispy potatoes chips. The thing was I couldn’t afford to buy any of it. Nor did my struggling immigrant parents have anything to give me. Things were tight financially, but innocently that didn’t stop me from making my daily pilgrimage anyway.

I am not sure if the man who saw me everyday was actually named Gerry but it really doesn’t matter. He saw me every day, and now that I look back, he must have known that I was a terrible customer. Each and every day I would walk in and spend next to nothing. I think anyone in his position might have simply asked me to find a different place to visit, or to actually buy something, but he didn’t. Instead, he offered me a job.

Looking back, what a gift he gave me. Instead of chasing away a boy who wasn’t bothering anyone or trying to make mischief, he rewarded me with a job.

I worked really hard at Gerry’s Variety Store. I even learned something about the human anatomy when I discovered all the adult magazines that needed restocking. Of course I didn’t do any of the restocking, and they were sealed, but regardless, I still learned a little something about being human.

I was so sad when I learned that my father got a job in Scarborough as an assistant superintendent and that we were moving once again. I really loved that job. It was only a day or two a week for a couple of hours, but it was enough to give me the money I needed to buy the candy I wanted.

I wonder who I have paid forward in my life and perhaps I should be more conscious and aware of the people I meet. I have a deep desire to make their lives better, or if they can’t be better, I hope to become a distraction with my silly humour, at least for a little while.

It’s truly amazing the creativity that lies inside of us and of how we can change and shape the world. Not the whole world of course, that would be impossible, but the world we know, the world we see, the world we engage with each and every day.

I want to that Gerry for a small gift which I know remember and one which has changed my life for the better. I am grateful for everything I have been through, I am dedicated to everything I need to do right now in order to see a few of my dreams come true, and I look forward to making a difference, even if it appears insignificant. 

Especially if it appears insignificant.

Cover photo generously provided by photographer Fancycrave.