A Sea of Waffles

I often felt like an outsider growing up. I never seemed to quite fit in. I always had one or two friends with whom I spent much of my playtime. I never made a big thing of it – I just knew I was a bit different.

I didn’t go out on a date until my late teens – and she asked me.

I still laugh when I see pictures of my childhood bedroom come up on my digital picture frame show. Don’t bother guessing!  Nicely arranged were charcoal prints of all the prime ministers of Canada. How sad.

In my 20s, I liked to hang out with the gals. I had little in common with the guys. Sports, muscles and measuring things didn’t catch my fancy. I found the young members of the opposite gender more interesting, and they readily accepted me.

Over time, I grew to appreciate and accept who I was. I concluded it was better to fit in where I wanted to be rather than change myself to fit in where others thought I should be.

With a single recipe to make pancakes and waffles but two different cooking pans, I was a pancake in a sea of waffles. I was ok with being that pancake.

I try to be tolerant of others, and their differences within this group; religion, culture, experience with alcohol, family violence, and poverty are just some of these differences.

I try to behave in a way consistent with my belief that everyone has a place on our planet. If there doesn’t seem to be a place for someone, we need to wiggle a bit and create that space for them.

Joey Moss is an example of this. Joey has since passed, but he was acquainted with Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers in his younger days. Wayne approached the Oiler’s management to ask if they could find a place for Joey to work. They said yes, and he worked for many years behind the scenes and touched the lives of all the players and staff. He helped with the team room and preparing for games and practices; towels needed to be washed, folded and distributed are just examples. He interacted with all the players; they had so many tales to tell of Joey’s impact over the years.

The Edmonton Elks made the same arrangements for Joey for the summer season.

Did I mention he had Downs Syndrome?

Joey was an exception and exceptional. The Oilers and Elks wiggled and made room for him to everyone’s benefit.

Please give this a bit of a think. Have there been situations in which you wiggled to make a place for someone who came into your life? Have you made eye contact and given a cheery ‘Hi’ to someone you knew had benefited from someone else giving them some wiggle room?

I’m curious about your thoughts. Please share your bit of a think in the comment section below. It will come to me for approval before posting.

Photo by Eric Prouzet on Unsplash

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4 thoughts on “A Sea of Waffles

  1. Gail Benshabat says:

    There’s a middle aged man who spends a lot of time at one of our local shopping plazas. I’ll call him James (I don’t remember his actual name). My daughter and I used to see him there and many other places (the subway, bus stops, Starbucks) many times.

    James stood out. You couldn’t help but notice that he looked emaciated, his face especially. He looked weak but I can tell you he probably had more strength than a lot of people younger than him.

    Whenever my daughter and I happened to see him, she’d say “Mom, I wonder what’s wrong with him. I wonder why he needs the oxygen tank.” (Sigh) I wondered too. Lisa wanted to ask him. Many times. She not only wanted to “know his condition,” she wanted to get to know him as a person. He obviously didn’t let his impairment stop him from getting around and talking to people in the community.

    I guess we felt awkward to ask him. There never seemed to be a “good” time. Boy we were wrong. James would have been thrilled if we had spoken up.

    And then one day, about five years ago, I was sitting next to “James” on a bench at the same plaza that Lisa and I had seen him on many occasions. I thought that “this” was my chance to start a conversation with him. It wasn’t difficult at all. I was thinking about Lisa. She’d have spoken up.

    I don’t know how I started the conversation but I could see a glimmer in his eye when I showed an interest in wanting to hear about his “story.” Our conversation was candid, friendly and educational. I felt like I was talking to a old friend. James certainly liked to talk. His face lit up when I asked him questions.

    James told me all about his condition. I think he said he has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or something like that. He told me that he had frequent hospitalizations as a young boy. He told me that his parents supported him through many difficult periods in his life and that he was very grateful.

    After our chat, I told James that I was happy that we met. I know I put a smile on his face that day. Now, I pay more attention when I see him chatting with store owners or people he’s gotten to know in the area. I say hello (although I don’t see him around as often).

    It’s heart-warming to know that I am no longer that “stranger” afraid to speak up.

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