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Shoe on the other foot

For New Year’s Eve, my family took a little trip up to Quebec City.

Even though almost everybody there speaks English, it definitely helped me to remember how isolating it is to not quite understand things. And to not quite get how to get around. And to not really know the money. And to have those moments when you almost understand… but not quite.

I ventured out to the drugstore to buy stuff I should not have left at home but did.

And I did OK.

I knew 5$ CAD would cover the cost. (I’ve no idea whether the change I got back was correct, though.)

And at the end, he asked if I wanted a bag. But I didn’t know. I knew he was asking me a question, because his voice went up.

But I just said no. And then I walked out. With my purchases that I would have much rather had a bag to transport them with.

And as I walked away from the counter, I realized what he had said, and, sadly, what I had answered.

How many times does this happen to students… that they almost understand, but it doesn’t quite happen? Or it does, but too late?

It was maddening. And on my way back home, stuffing my things in the large pockets of my coat, leaving little room for my freezing fingers to join them, I had time to think about how lucky I am to live the life I lead.

While I was there, I heard about a student whose electric stove had broken, and whose landlord was being less than helpful, saying that the family broke the stove by letting rice boil over. I heard she said they could just buy their own, since they couldn’t take care of the one she provided. I also heard that she said my colleague shouldn’t worry about it, because they will just go over to a friend’s house to eat.

Man. If that’s all it takes to kill an electric stove, mine should be long dead by now.

And if that’s how I might be expected to provide for my family… well, that just is no way to live–paying rent, but asking friends, “Do you think I can carry my groceries to your house so I can maybe cook dinner? My landlord says it’s my fault that my stove is broken. We can maybe buy a new one in a few months.”

That’s just awful.

So now I’m on the hunt for a stove. If you live near Burlington, Vermont, and you know where I can get one cheap, let me know.

Compassion doesn’t come cheap. And neither do apartments here. And families that are living on very little money, as this family is, needs somebody who can show some compassion.

Anybody got any to spare???


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