Historically speaking, I am probably one of the luckiest men alive; and I should be immensely thankful. I assure you: I am thankful. Even immensely so.
Some would say that I have won the “birth lottery,” simply by being born Caucasian to an upwardly mobile family and during one of history’s eras of relative plenty for those fortunate enough to occupy, however temporarily, a piece of turf in Canada. Finding one’s way to beautiful British Columbia is perhaps over-achieving, as far as these kinds of tallies go; but it’s definitely the icing on the cake.
In addition to the historico-geographical fortune, I can also be grateful for a family that has been nurturing, not to mention resistant to the many strains and stresses that can ultimately make such nuclear units explode into a whole lot of collateral damage. So far so good. No one can take one’s family situation for granted, even if we possess not an iota of responsibility when it comes to the family that we end up becoming a part of. So if you’re like me, thank your lucky stars that you don’t live among brutes and other warpers and wasters of innocence. We have a headstart being in gentle company.
And yet, and yet... There’s still that nagging suspicion in the back of my brain that all might not be as it appears. That there is some calamity awaiting, if not for me personally, then for all of us, just around the bend. There’s a lot to suggest that there is just such a monster afoot, sharpening its talons in readiness for the bloodbaths to come.
But I’m not going to go there today. It’s just after Thanksgiving, and I am still aglow with gratitude for a recent mitzvah bestowed upon me by my bosses here in Kelowna. The bloodbaths to come and our analysis of same, the abysmal well of the world’s political and economic despair that draws me like a magnet, ready to deconstruct and de-code -- all of this can wait (does it ever disappear? Ever?)...
Last week was the beginning of the end of an unusually chaotic start to my busiest time of year as a supplier of brass and woodwind instruments for kids taking band at their various schools throughout the Interior. With the delayed start to the public school year, band directors from across the province were clamouring for instruments sooner rather than later; and my job at this time of year is to see to it that no child gets left behind.
But it’s tiring. And it’s stressful. And I am not as agile as a goat any longer, so my speed isn’t what it once was. Recovery time is lengthier. Vitamin I (Ibuprofen) is my best friend in these weeks of manic musical instrument provision.
And sometimes things can go off the rails when you least expect it.
So you can imagine my trepidation when I was paged to join one of my bosses, Neil, in his office early last week.
Casting about for something I buggered up wasn’t an easy task -- I can bugger up plenty, so my list was growing exponentially as I walked the paces to the back of the shop where Neil was no doubt a-waiting, calm and cool (like he always is), professional and decidedly not to be moved by an underling’s saving of the appearances.
“C’mon in, Jeff. Have a seat... Oh before you do that, get Nori in here too,” he said. “There’s something we need to discuss with you.”
Nori is Neil’s younger brother, and together they form the dyad that more or less keeps things afloat at our fast paced business, Wentworth Music. When I found the Kid, I must have been ashen with dread, and Nori didn’t betray anything (he never does) was amiss. So I grabbed a seat in the office across from Neil, and Nori slipped silently behind. And. Closed. The. Door.
“Jeff,” Neil began. “You’ve been with us for ten years now and...” And I can’t believe you’re still screwing up like this. And, for the life of me, I can’t even believe THIS one. And you haven’t learned a damned thing in a decade. And and and...
The self-loathing that Mennonites (like me) are historically known for was kicking into full gear -- so much so that I almost didn’t (want to) hear what Neil was actually saying. Because what he was actually saying was, “and Nori and I, on behalf of the entire family here at Wentworth Music, want to thank you for your service these last ten years. You’ve done an awesome job, and though we don’t trumpet these things as often as we probably should, we want you to know that you’re appreciated and we want to show our thanks with these small gifts.”
With that, the boys pulled out a handful of gift cards for Sparkling Hill Resort and a not wee bottle of a single-malted Scottish elixir. For me.
So, folks, I am truly grateful this Thanksgiving. One can never take for granted one’s place of employment. My ten years working for a company voted earlier this year “Best Large Business” by Kelowna’s Chamber of Commerce has gone by in the blink of an eye. And to find work in a town as tough as Kelowna, and a job that challenges me on a daily basis to improve, to get better, is truly something to cherish.
My hope for all my readers is that your Thanksgiving was a time for reflection and gratitude, just as mine was. And to my work family I repeat, “Thank you. It is nice to be noticed and rewarded. I’ll be thinking of you all as I tip back a dram and write my next column. Cheers!”
— Having lost his 2,500 volume library in the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire, Jeffrey is beginning to fill the void by writing his own. Reach him at jeff.loewen(at)gmail.com