In my teens in the late 90s, I frequented a local musical instrument store in downtown Ottawa. One of the guys who worked there stood out because of his long orange curly hair and because he always let me play various fancy bass guitars, my favourite hobby, knowing I didn’t have the money to buy a new one. As I came back and played, he kept encouraging me and complimenting me on my progress. After a couple of years, when I could “afford” to buy a new bass guitar, he let me put a 6-string beauty on layaway until I could pay it off. I eventually went away to school in Niagara.
One year when I came back to Ottawa to visit, I went to my go-to music store and asked about my orange curly haired friend. I was both sad and happy to learn he had left the business to pursue his dream of being a travelling musician on cruise ships around the world. I never forgot him and think of him today, 25 years later, every time I walk by the store. I am grateful for the positive influence he had on my life as a burgeoning musician. I wish I could tell him. Well…I wished.
A few weeks ago, on the last day of work with a former employer, I felt grateful for the opportunity to turn a new leaf in my career. With my heart full of thanksgiving, I took a mid-morning walk and happened to walk by the same music store, which is near the office. I decided to go in. After a few minutes of looking at basses, an older gentleman with a short grey hair cut came out of the back, mop in hand to clean the front of the store. He stopped to ask if I needed help. I didn’t, so he went on with his mopping duty. On his way out of the store, he told his colleague “That kid that was in here yesterday was such a nice kid, such a great attitude and so polite. The world would be a much better place if filled with people like him.”
I looked back at him to get another look because the kindness in his voice sounded familiar. As he stepped outside with his mop and bucket, I quickly rushed to hold the door for him so I could get a closer look at his face; short hair, a lot of greys, but buried deep, I could still see orange. I asked him when he started working at the store. He said 1994. I asked if he once had long, curly orange hair. He said yes. I called his name out loud, he answered “yes, that’s me”. 25 years later, and I finally got to thank him in person. Be grateful for everyone and everything that contributes to your journey...even to your hobbies. Life is a gift.