Often, around 9:15 the cafe fills up with what I call the Morning Moms. Having dropped the kids at school they rendez-vous here for coffee or breakfast. They are all Beanerjunkies. Today both Josh and Gino are behind the counter and the Morning Moms are gobbling up Gino’s fresh baked cookies faster than he can bake them. Kathleen listens to their laughter and observes that we should all be so happy in the morning.
Andrea comes up from downstairs to announce that both toilets at the cafe are plugged. Celeste says to call Rosie’s husband who says that if it’s both of them it is probably the sewer pipes and not something a plunger will fix. Cindy goes down to try the plunger anyway. This is the kind of situation where I bang my head against the wall, knowing that the landlord couldn’t give a crap and this is going to be one more unexpected expense in a long list of space-related nuisances.
The morning moms are laughing again and I see that Cindy has succeeded where Rebeccas fear to tread. The washrooms are good to go, another batch of cookies is ready and Shelley Adams is still on repeat, which happily, no one but me has noticed.
Life is best approached collaboratively…
or not. Daily.
In the Theatre there is an understanding that every performance is an audition for your next gig; you never know who might be in the audience; you never know which of your colleagues might be doing the hiring down the road; you never know who might write about you.
I think this is only a more acute version of what goes on in any business, or indeed, in life. We are all elected by our friends, our customers, our stakeholders. When they stop coming, we’ve lost the election.
I use this as a barometer in the cafe. Though there is a slight increase each month in the revenue, I ask myself about the returning customers: Do the people I respect and admire come back?
It works in reverse too. Not only can we all vote in a political election, we can vote by supporting businesses, programs and ideas we value. Most of us do this unconsciously, even in the political arena – when it seems like it matters, we take action.
I have this idea that in politics, the folks who are elected serve at the pleasure of the people. They are not there to wield power or gain status but to serve. I think maybe we all expect that. But why don’t we expect it of ourselves in our own roles as bus drivers and cashiers and Board of Education executives? What would happen if we considered ourselves to be in service to the people and act accordingly?
Would we find ourselves elected? Or not?
The world changed the year Brian was born and most folks likely thing that is a coincidence. The world changed for me that year into a place I didn’t have to be so lost in, didn’t have to be so afraid of, didn’t have to be someone else in. Maybe the world hit a tipping point in the paradigm shift from old-school to new-school outlook or maybe it’s the end of the world. Ever notice how your last few days at a previously unbearable job or house or relationship are not so unbearable? Maybe that’s what happened to little planet earth that year; it became less unbearable.
Brian was born into a large extended family (mine) where might was right, kids were to be seen and not heard, and various forms of intimidation were perceived as good leadership, but Brian doesn’t respond to any of that. Brian is four years old and they say he lives with autism. I happen to think Brian lives with himself, but there is no doubt that his family lives with autism.
I remember the picnic that his mom and I had by the water. You will likely think it harsh that I took Stella the wonder dog off of her 20-foot leash and clipped it to Brian’s backpack. We tied it to a tree half way between the picnic blanket and the water and talked about how odd it was that the dog wont run away but the boy will. I still think of Katherine as my little cousin though she is Brian’s mom now, and though she never cries about how hard it is, she did that day – it was the first time she didn’t have to chase him since who knows when. Wouldn’t we all run away without our leashes?
At each visit Brian warms up slowly and I rejoice that unlike the old-school days, the family members compete for his attention and affection on his terms. He responds to music and texture. He loves books. Cindy Currie will be glad to hear that those romance novels are among his favourites. He pours over each page carefully like he is examining a microfiche and then tears them out one by one. We wonder if he could read pictographs or hieroglyphs and where we could find someone to teach him how.
In all kinds of mythology /religions/beliefs they talk about heroes being born in the future who will change the world, change us. Brian was born into the future four years ago and is changing us – our values, our perceptions, our sense of normal – and consequently the world around us just by being himself.
Would that more of us could do that.