Commuting Fun.

There is usually one morning each week where Kurt and I drive the scooter into town, as opposed to taking the ferry. Nights where we have volleyball or other plans after work mean that the scooter is a better option, so we're not stuck waiting (or missing) the ferry to take us home again. I don't mind the ride. There are a lot of worse ways to start your morning than cruising along beside the aqua-coloured water and breathing in the fresh ocean air. Or gas fumes, depending on who or what is driving in front of you. Anyways, I kind of look forward to these mornings. It's relaxing...until we get into traffic.

Morning (and afternoon) traffic on the Rock is, in a word, ridiculous. There are two main roads, and everyone is on them. On scooters, in cars, in bigger cars, whatever. Everyone is heading in the same direction and no one is getting there quickly. The roads are very narrow, but as the cars stick to the lanes (no choice, really), the scooters are able to cruise down the centre lane, dodging around vehicles, getting into town much faster. Of course, there are sometimes quick judgement calls to be made when we're going around a corner and a huge water truck or moving truck is coming the other way. I've actually had my shoulder skimmed by a side mirror or two, because even though Kurt is a fantastic driver (seriously...he is excellent), it's sometimes unavoidable. There is just no wiggle room at all.

Right before entering the "downtown core", there's a roundabout. There are quite a few on the island, and it boggles my mind that the locals have nearly mastered it, while they actually had to remove them from large intersections in Victoria because no one "got" it. Yield to the right. Or left, if that's how you roll. It's not hard. In fact, they're kind of fun. I digress.

At this particular intersection, there is a little man in a straw hat, frantically waving, blowing kisses and shouting "I love you" to all of the passing vehicles and cars. He is very well known on the island. EVERYONE knows who he is. He is somewhat of a local legend and for good reason. You can't help but smile when you see his face...he is a very lovable character. So lovable, in fact, that there is a life-size bronze statue of him standing 20 feet away from where he's doing his thing. I personally think that this is a bit premature, since he is clearly not dead, but whatever.

Still, a small part of me can't help but think that it's strange. I'd heard about him for ages, but just couldn't grasp that there is a man, standing on a curb, waving and shouting pleasantries at people every single weekday morning, rain, sun, hurricane, whatever, without so much as a donation basket at his feet. What is his deal? And how long could he possibly have kept this up?

A little research and I found the shocking answer. He has been standing there every morning waving, smiling, blowing kisses and what have you, since...get ready for this...1941. NINETEEN FOURTY ONE. My calculator tells me that this equals 67 years. I suppose he is yet another example of how the locals age gracefully, since I wouldn't have put his age at much past that, but I suspect he was a young adult when he started. Of course, his "mission" has something to do with God, or perhaps his son, or some combination of the two, telling him that his purpose was to make people smile. And so, every weekday morning, he makes his way to the roundabout at 3:30 a.m. and stands there making people smile until about 10:00. What he does after this I don't know, but I'm hoping that it involves sleep. He must have wicked arm and back muscles...have you ever tried to wave for six and half hours straight? Didn't think so.

He has succeeded in his purpose brilliantly. We beep and wave at him whenever we pass and he always, always makes me smile. I'm not sure if he's now paid to stand there, or whether his only payment is the satisfaction of knowing that he's fulfilled what he set out to do so many years ago, but I know that the first morning he is not standing there will be a very sad day for many locals who have come to know and love his presence in their otherwise dull commutes.

Good on you, JB.


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