I’ve walked into the same gym every day for four years. The same guy is behind the desk. He gives me the same blank look every day. But by now I know the drill.
“May I have a towel, please?” I ask. Every day. For four years. And he still hasn’t figured it out.
It’s hard to find good help these days.
Okay, okay. I know. Lighten up, old man. Who was it who said that life is a tragedy for those who feel and a comedy for those who think? And looking back at it, I probably started raging about “Kids these days”, back in 1981. I was twenty-five. I can still remember my principal remarking, “It was ever thus.”
Certainly when I get off my high horse and open my eyes to all the humour that exists amidst the chaos I realize that there is no end to the laughter. In 1980 I was a student-teacher in a Grade Five class in Magog, Quebec. Somehow the classroom discussion got de-railed and I suddenly realized we had gotten around to discussing bathroom visits in the middle of the night.
Anyway, it came to pass that one little guy put up his hand and started to wave it frantically. My mentor teacher had told me to let the kids speak; he hated to silence anyone.
“Yes, Willie ?” I asked. Willie was a bit of a wild card. The words gushed forth even before the hand was completely lowered. “One time in the middle of the night,” he began, “my father went into the bathroom and looked into the mirror… and he saw the devil.”
Willie looked at me wide-eyed and then around at his classmates. They were all ten years old and there were no challengers. The only reaction I remember having was to tell everyone to get out their Language Arts workbooks. And later on I remember telling my father, as sardonic a man as ever lived, the story. His reaction ? “Maybe he did.”
Of course, generational irritation cuts both ways. My daughter is nearly eighteen years old, with all of the confidence and none of the doubts in her viewpoints that comes with the certainty of youth. I was asking her about some process on Facebook that I was, ahem, unfamiliar with.
“Oh my word, Dad, it annoys me at how little you know.” Ouch.
Anyway, back to the gym. My membership ran out and I switched facilities. Now I can pick my own towel off the rack without having to ask for it. And who should I run into sitting in the lobby but Henry Burris, the just -retired Ottawa Red Blacks Grey Cup-winning quarterback. We had a nice conversation and I don’t think that either of us was annoyed. At least I wasn’t.
You’ll have to ask Henry.