The Good Samaritan that never was

I have always prided myself at being AWESOME at life. Part of being AWESOME at life was seeking out opportunities to help the less fortunate. Like one time, I gave my gloves to some homeless guy. 

Another time, I gave my seat to a super pregnant lady. The look of gratefulness she gave me was enough to melt the heart of God himself.  

And another time, I was at Shopper’s Drug Mart, I almost bought a $5.00 gift card for the next person in line from me. I refrained when I saw that it was some old geezer buying Lottery tickets. Pfft…screw that! I may be awesome at life, but I’m no enabler. 

Anyways. 

The problem with this whole act of kindness thing that I’m mildly obsessed with is that there’s always an air of pride that’s dancing along with that.  I never do things for people if:

– It’s inconvenient for me.

– They’re crazy.

– If they clearly look distressed but also look like they are totally capable of lunging for the carotid with a machete and the kind of enthusiasm that only comes with being a repeat victim of the Toronto Transit Commission. 

Most people who need help in Toronto fit one or all of the above categories. 

And then I met Ivan last week. 

I was going to buy some groceries on my way home from work when a rotund little man with a cane and two heaping grocery bags was walking towards me. He was talking to himself no less. 

“EXCUSE ME, KIND LADY! Will you help me with my bags?” He was looking straight at me. 

He fit almost all of my above stated categories. Although, he wouldn’t be able to run fast enough after me with a machete with those bags so I obliged. 

“Sure, I’ll help you!”

“Thank you, kind lady. My name is Ivan and you’re a kind lady!!”  Of course I’m a kind lady, Ivan!

Turned out he not only needed help with his bags, he also needed a shoulder to lean on. Literally. He almost fell off on one side. When you’re not strong and you need a friend, you lean on Karen. 

To say his bags were heavy was an understatement.  If his bags were a food group, they’d be trans fat. If his bags were a feeling, they’d be a mixture of guilt and daddy issues. If his bags were a mustache, they’d be Tom Selleck.

The point is, I couldn’t actually carry his bags and have him lean all of his 250lbs on me at the same time. The only thing that kept me going was pride that I was doing something good. 

Ivan was a character. If the personalities of Walter Matthau and Uncle Leo from Seinfield had a love child, it would grow up to become Ivan’s personality. 

He shouted at everyone on the streets about what a kind lady I was. When he found out  I was Catholic, he yelled some more about how protestants are fools.

“NOT the place or time, Ivan”, I scolded back at him. 

“Whatever you say, kind lady”

Luckily, the City of Toronto is God’s own green earth of polite, tree-hugging atheists. All I got were stares of unadulterated sympathy. 

The subway station, where Ivan wanted to get to was three minutes away. Twenty minutes later, we were still crossing the street and Ivan was still bitching about protestants. 

He finally noticed that I was struggling with the bags and just stopped and asked, “Oh kind sister, would like some help with those bags?”

I stared at him dumbly.”No Ivan, you need help with these bags, remember?”

“Oh you’re such a kind lady”. 

By the time we got down the stairs to the subway platform, Ivan had already yelled at every passerby about how kind I was and I, in turn, was ready to fling his bags onto the subway tracks. 

The train finally came by. Ivan wrote his number on my hand and insisted I call him because he liked kind ladies. 

Before he left he yelled one last time, “WAIT! I have something important to tell you”

He said this with all the self-importance an enlightened Siddhartha could muster. Maybe this was the moment when I was to find out that he’s really a wise man and he’ll give me a piece of profound wisdom that would make sense all of that had just happened. 

“Remember, kind lady”, he said. “When you go grocery shopping today, stock up on juice. JUICE IS ON SALE!!”

Fuck you, Ivan. And the subway door closed. 

Moral of the story: Its okay to have a little pride when you seek to help people. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of doing the right thing. But its better to have humility. Because without it, nothing you do to help people will ever make sense to you.

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PS: Thank you all for such a warm welcome back. It feels good to see all of you again 🙂

Look what you have done, WordPress!

No, this is not another shameless bid to get WordPress’ attention to get myself Freshly Pressed. Although, who am I to protest and complain if they do after reading this?

By now, if you are a WordPress blogger you would have realised that there truly isn’t a better platform from which to springboard your innermost thoughts and fantasies to a whole bevy of strangers around the world. And even then, everyday I discovered new nifty little tricks and features that WordPress keeps adding to enhance my TMI sharing experiences with even more strangers I ever imagined possible.

But I’m not going to waste an entire blog post praising the WordPress features that you already have come to know and love. Today, I’m going to show you how WordPress is awesome in a totally different way: Connecting People in real life.

It came to be realised that there were quite a few of us 20-something Torontonian bloggers, most of whom were somehow connected and subscribed to each other. From this fact was born our very ambitious mini-blogger convention. Sadly our first convention only consisted of three people (hence mini). You may or may not recognise these amazing bloggers:

Breezyk from The Camel Life

Janice (Cafe23) from Your Daily Dose

and of course, yours truly, Karen from The Chronicles of a Skinny Jeans-wearing Toronto girl

It all began like any potentially good online dating story (or the stuff  good reality TV is made of). I started reading Breezyk’s The Camel Life sometime last year when I came across her post about going to some Wine and Food convention. I was effectively hooked after reading her ‘About Me’ section. I have no idea what she saw in me at the time but we decided to meet up for a glass of Pinot. I was never one to turn down a fellow wino.

Three glasses of classy juice later, we knew we would be BFFs. Well I was thinking we would be. She was probably thinking about how she was going to be hungover at work the next day. Regardless, we knew that the only thing that would make this even better the next time was if we actually had more awesome bloggers in the mix.

Janice from ‘Your Daily Dose’ was another blogger who I started following fairly recently. I think the first post I read of hers was about the Kingston Penitentiary. This was really strange because after reading her ‘About Me’ section, the first thought that came to mind was “what the heck is a sweet girl like her doing in King Pen?!” Then I found out she was a Criminology major after which I promptly hit the Follow button. Anyone who is drop dead beautiful, likes week-long hikes and camping in the wilderness, has the voice of an angel and writes posts about King Pen definitely is a blogger to be reckoned with.

You mix all of us together and you get an evening of wine, Italian food goodtimes! Here’s some photographic evidence that this actually happened.

Left to Right: Breezy, Karen and Janice. There were no Cut, Paste or gun point threats involved in the making of this photo

It’s always wonderful when we as bloggers follow each other and support each other’s blogs with follows, comments and likes. But there’s really nothing like actually getting to meet these wonderful people in person and laughing and sharing stories. Breezyk and Janice, you guys rock! Here’s to many more blogging years and mini conventions in the future!

And more importantly, if any of you bloggers are Toronto-based or close to the GTA, drop us a line! This could only get better from here.

 Have you ever met a fellow blogger who is a complete stranger in real life? How did it turn out?

Riding the bus with Ryan Reynolds

That`s right, children. I sit across The Great Canadian Adonis on the bus.

Now, before you ladies get your panties in a tizzy and you gentlemen abruptly stop reading this, cool all your tail feathers. I don’t usually do this but this is actually going to be a serious post about a life lesson I learnt this morning that I, against my better judgement, decided to share with you. Normally, I  like to keep my blog as light-hearted as possible, restricting it to mostly mindless humor to get you through your caffeine-fuelled robotic lives. However, there comes a time when something so simple and yet so profound happens, that one must tell someone else. Or a bunch of someone elses.

My story began last week when I started riding the Viva bus, a more human pleasant alternative to the TTC (my regular bus). The Viva bus stops at the same stop as the TTC and takes me to the same place where I have to catch my third and final bus to work. For the past week, I`ve been getting on the Viva and sitting directly opposite a man who is a splitting image of the photo you see below:

You think he's coyly smiling at you but really, he's just checking himself out on his tinted car window. (www.coolspotters.com)

He’s usually reading the paper but behind those designer sunglasses he’s really just silently staring into the souls of the unsuspecting working class around him. This was the one piece of excitement I had every morning of last week. Anyway, this Monday morning, I woke  up thoroughly excited at the prospect of starting my week with Ryan Reynolds staring into my soul as any normal hormonal girl would be.

As luck, or lack of it would have it, I got to the bus stop just in time to see the Viva pull in to the stop. I ran  to it like a wild zebra being chasing by a  lion. Alas! I got there just in time to have the doors of the bus close in my face, while the driver shook his head at me in complete indifference. I thought I might burst into tears. Not only was my soul not going to be stared down at today by Ryan, but it was also very likely that I wouldn`t get to work on time seeing as how the chance of missing my third bus was inevitable.

I stood there stewing in a pool of anger and frustration at the driver, at life, at Monday, at Ryan Reynolds, at myself. So caught up was I in my black mood that I didn`t even notice a TTC bus pull in right in front of me a minute later. The TTC bus was like a Nike sweatshop of carpal-tunnel syndrome suffering children…cramped, stale and suffocating.  And it was in that dark place on the TTC bus that I found my reason to write this post.

Even though I missed the Viva , I knew for sure that today, a missed Viva was not going to result in me being late for work because that suffocating TTC actually saved the day.

Now, I`m sure this touching story warms the cockles of your heart and everything, but really… why am I making you read all this bullshit?

Well…let me get up on my pedestal and tell you…

It’s a given that life isn’t always going to be a joyride with Ryan Reynolds. At one point or another I’m sure all of you must have suffered the pain of something you really wanted not working out the way you wanted to or not working out at all. I know I certainly have.

Maybe you came really close to landing your dream job only to have it snatched away from you. Maybe you suffered loss of some kind. Maybe you`re stuck in rut with nothing working out for you. For everything that doesn’t work out, the lesson of missing the Ryan Reynolds bus made me realise there is always another way to get where you want to go.

It may not be the way you planned, but you will get there. It may not be the same time that you planned for, but you will get there. It may not be the most convenient way to get there, but you will get there. And it certainly may not be with Ryan Reynolds sitting across from you, but you know what? You will still get there.  A thousand-and-five shiteous things could get in the way of getting there, but none of that will change the fact that you will get where you need to be at the right time.

 Of course, this goes with an assumption that you’re doing the best you can i.e. getting your ass out of bed, not keeping couch bugs company, applying for jobs before deadlines, running like a wild zebra etc.

 This is probably no new lesson for myself or for anyone else by any means, but its one I find very easy to forget.

 In the end, the one thing you really need for this to happen is hope. And deep (often VERY VERY deep) down whether you know it or not, we`re all hopeful. Even when your whole life is sitting in a large pile of doo-doo, you still hope something  will change. What other choice do you have other than to have hope?

Until then, close your eyes and know that while you are in the sweatshop bus of life, some people will get off and make breathing easier, the road will even out eventually, maybe you might even encounter some kind soul who gives you their seat. But even if none of those things happen, provided you don`t give up and get off, you will eventually get to where you need to be.

And that folks is my Monday sermon for you. *gets off pedestal and googles more Ryan Reynolds’ photos*

Murphy’s Laws for the 20-something single girl

Murphy was my kind of man. The only reason I’ve never been an over-optimistic fool who always sees rainbows in the black clouds of shiteous life events is because I’ve been too busy earning my diploma from Murphy’s Law School of Realists.  When I graduated from my actual University, I should have been given a bottle of cheap wine and the words ‘Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong’ embossed on my degree.

While some people think I’m a pessimistic Negative Nancy, drinking a half-empty glass of grump juice alone in my basement, I’m really just one of those  delightful bitches in your friend circle who, with very good intentions, bursts your every sugar-coated bubble of unrealistic and/or senseless fantasies by (often times) very untacfully telling you the cold truth. Especially if you’re a Scientologist who can’t handle the truth. (Sorry, I’m quite unable to string along the words “untactful”, “senseless” and “Scientologist” without hurling in a Tom Cruise reference)

Anyway.

This where Murphy comes in. Nobody needs a Killjoy Karen crushing every optimistic pipe dream of striking it rich by baking marijuana biscuits (although Aunt Mary-Juanita’s Ginger Snaps sound like they could hit spots you never dreamed you had). But everybody does need a health dose of reality once in a while to keep themselves from the bad stuffs of life: broken hearts, eviction notices, divorce papers, jail, a series of punches in the face, gonorrhea….the list of what could go wrong is endless.

 And so, I have complied a Murphy’s Law-inspired list of the truths of the 20-something single life with a healthy dose of humor. At the ripe old age of 25, I’ve learnt that the only way to get through single life is by lots of humor. Because let’s face it, when you get married, the only way you’ll be able to get through that is by lots of compromise and Valium (in that order).

In no particular order of importance:

1. Friends come and go, but dumbasses accumulate. The word dumbass is an umbrella term for stalkers, freaks, unsavory suitors, unhygienic clients, lazy Louises/Larrys, people with poor grammar and the man sitting next to you on the subway who smells like cigarettes and urine.

2. The degree of complications of a clogged toilet is directly proportional to how attractive the plumber will be when he comes in and asks you to explain in detail what happened. Karen’s Tear-free Guide to Unclogging a Toilet has some single girl tips to deal with this shitty situation, should you find yourself stuck in it.

3. The grocery line is full of coupon-holding senior citizens when the urge to pee is the most.

4. Buying an incredible looking purse at an incredible price will only make you take more notice of other girl’s purses and wonder how much they paid for it, where they got it and if it comes in teal blue.

5. The chance you being attracted to a guy at a bar is directly proportional to the chance of him having a girlfriend, a boyfriend or a very contagious terminal illness.

6. When grocery shopping for the single girl, the ingredient you need the least of will only come in very large quantities.

7. Beauty is only skin deep; overnight makeup goes deeper.

8.  You will remember that you forgot your bus pass at home just as the bus pulls up at the stop.

9. The single girl’s phone should only have 3 key features: the ability to call, text and split a restaurant bill with tax and tip among 7 people.

10. The subway train running in the opposite direction always comes first.

I wish I could come up with Murphy’s Law for the single guy, for the mid-life crisis stricken Walmart manager, for the cookie baking soccer mom and the parent-hating emo teenager. Alas, according to what I have learnt from blogging, one must write what they know. But I’m sure that from whatever walk of life you come from, Murphy would have had something to say about it.

So let’s get real and humorously dig out that annoying crap that life hands us and laugh about the futility of fighting it. Let’s accept it for what it is, embrace the nonsense and not just dismiss its existence in the name of optimism. As Murphy would say: Smile!…for tomorrow will be worse.

Tuesdays with Morgan

It’s official. Tuesdays have replaced Mondays on the scale of suckage.

Actually this phenomenon happened about a year ago when I realised that the only thing I ever truly hated about Mondays was the fact that Tuesday followed it. Perhaps because Tuesdays are the first day in the week when the crankiness of another weekend gone by too soon is not tolerated as a viable excuse for unproductiveness anymore. Regardless, Tuesdays should be killed off like the ogress mother-in-law character in every single Bollywood movie.

This Tuesday, the sky was extra gloomy and I had no time to make coffee since I had laid paralysed in bed for too long in the morning. Maybe it was that my brain was still trying to metaphorically smash its internal alarm clock  or maybe it was the thought of eating nothing but red peppers for lunch since I had been too freaking lazy to pack a lunch, but no sooner than I got on the bus, I began to ponder the meaning of life.

What’s the meaning of life? Is watching The Bold and the Beautiful, fighting other working middle class slaves to catch a seat on the bus from work and blogging about it really all there is to it?

(Spoiler Alert: Yes)

I took out my notebook never really intending this to actually warrant a blog post. I was not  feeling particularly existential or philosophical. Even my usual morning prayer of “Dear God, please just get me through this shithell of a day” was interrupted by someone letting out a godawful fart on the bus.  

It was only when I got on my second bus transfer that my caffeine-starved brain started to get all poetic on my mediocre life. The driver of my second bus was a replica of Morgan Freeman. In fact, when I saw him, I just gawked while my right hand flashed my bus pass at him on autopilot.

Y’alls know what to do for every one of my blog posts from now on… (www.slacktory.com)

He stared back at me with a look as if to say, “Shut your complaining and get on the bus, Ms. Daisy”. And then I opened my notebook and began to write.

Tuesdays suck. For that matter, so do Mondays and any other day that involves dealing with assholes. But that’s just a fact of life. You may say that you had a great day because you had to outrun just one crazy bag lady for the only seat on the bus instead of the usual four creepers and one lunatic who always talks to himself, but that’s just your way of seeing Terrible Tuesday in a positive light. Which is wonderful, because letting go makes the day go faster.

They say that all good things come to an end but you know what? So do Tuesdays. So what if this day is full of shit? There’s no way to get around it but through it. And at the end of the day, I’ll watch The Bold and the Beautiful and blog, which turns out, are my two favorite things. And if I’m really lucky (and I was) I’ll get a seat on the bus without having to wrestle hobos (no easy feat for me).

I realised that in the end, what I equated to mundane things at the beginning of this day (blogging, watching my favorite TV show, talking on msn with my mother) turned out to be the things that got me through the actual mundane. And in the present, I could be happy if that’s all there is. People spend the best parts of their lives chasing after the next big nothing that will make their mundane lives seem more tolerable never realising that the best part of life is happening while they out busy looking for it.

In the wise words of Mick Jagger “You can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need”. 

I still cannot answer the question ‘What’s the meaning of life?’. I think it’s up to each one to find their own meaning. But I do know what’s the meaning of my life at the end of this Tuesday and it can all be summarised into one word: Weekends.

Before I got off the bus, I turned to Morgan and said “Have a good Tuesday”. He gave me a knowing look, a slight nod and half a smile. He knew. Freeman and I were on the same wavelength.

Either that or he had secretly just smoked a joint in the last 10 minutes. He was a TTC driver after all.