THE OPPENHEIMER REPORT (October 19, 2020)
I met a lady the other day in the medical centre, as I was waiting to use the machine to pay my parking fee. She was having a problem, because the machine would only accept credit cards or cash. She only had a debit card, and the adjacent ATM machine was out of order. I suppose I could have just let her find another source of cash, which likely would have meant her having to take a long walk in the rain, but I paid her parking fee for her. It was my random act of kindness for the day. It made me feel just a little better about myself, and I helped someone in a bind. For all the people who have helped me over the past year, I paid it forward.
If the growing list of mental health hotline ads posted online is any indication, there are a lot of people out there who are struggling emotionally right now. I know I’m one of the luckiest people in the world, and yet even I am having a hard time dealing with the pandemic and all the political chaos at this time. Several of my musician friends have really melted down over the past few months, and I cannot imagine how frightening the future looks to them. In many cases, they were barely making ends meet before COVID-19 hit, thanks in part to the downward spiral of the music business. Now, they can’t even gig on a regular basis. As Toronto and other major cities face another spike in COVID-19 cases, there will inevitably be another series of mandatory shutdowns, which will likely be the death blow for a lot of restaurants, gyms, and small businesses. So many people are on their last nerve. Exacerbating all this uncertainty is the unsettling suspicion that bad behavior and lack of leadership are on the rise. Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms fan the flames and it takes nothing for an ill-considered comment to ignite a full-blown street fight. To quote an expression that I think I first heard on Firesign Theater in the 70's, it might be time to stick my head between my legs and kiss my ass goodbye, but I don't want to disappoint the people I love and respect.
Yvonne Heath, one of our local volunteers at Hunters Bay Radio, a registered nurse, author, inspirational speaker, consultant, TV host, hosts a show on Hunters Bay Radio called “I JUST SHOWED UP”. On it, she interviews people facing adversity with courage and dignity. "I Just Showed Up" is her catch phrase for helping someone just by being there for them. Everywhere in this community, I see good people coping the best that they can with terrible situations. That includes the widow running the family marina business after her husband died of ALS, or the friend recently diagnosed with an advanced case of a rare and difficult to treat prostate cancer, or other friends who recently lost their house and all their possessions in a fire. The sad stories are all around us. Those people, and many more, are coping the best they can in these trying times, and sometimes, what they need most, is simply someone to listen and empathize.
In 15 days, the U.S. will elect their next president. Within the next year, there will likely be a vaccine to prevent COVID-19. I think that many people expect that the world will return to “normal” after those 2 problems are addressed. I’m not so sure. The problems are much deeper than Rump or the coronavirus. That said, it doesn’t take much to make a difference; sometimes, it’s as simple as paying a stranger’s parking fee when they cannot do it themselves. Her gratitude made me feel good. I choose to believe that because of my gesture, the lady I helped will now have just a little bit more faith in mankind. Maybe not, but I need a little hope injected into my life, some small reminder that kindness is not dead. I can’t fix this mess we’re in, all I can do is work to improve myself. To quote Blanche Dubois: “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
Written by Jamie Oppenheimer ©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED