These days we are consumed with catching H1N1 and various other contagions. I would like to share with you some joy I caught recently.
I was born and raised in Niagara Falls, Ontario. I’m a “border kid”. This means I have spent my entire life crossing the border to the US, back and forth, paying tolls on the US highways. Border kids have spent their entire lives with their mothers dragging them to the US half naked and returning home with so many clothes on we resembled the little boy in A Christmas Story who couldn’t put his arms down, or get up when he fell because his mom had him dressed like the Michelin Man. Yes, we were born and raised smugglers!
I still travel to the US on a regular basis. No, of course I would never smuggle! My sister lives there, my niece lives there and believe it or not I get my hair done there. I have been crossing the Grand Island bridge for as long as I can remember. Paying the toll and getting to the other side. Seldom have I ever heard a peep from anyone taking my $1.00 US. I make it a point to always say “hello” wait for a response and then say “thank you” when they raise the barrier. (I know, it is just bred into my Canadian genes to be polite.) I don’t believe I can remember a time when anyone even met my eyes. There was one time when I hesitated, ever so slightly, and the guy screamed at me “GO!” My passenger was shocked, and asked, “Did that guy just yell at you?” Yes, yes he did. I have always thought this must be one of the worst jobs in the world. These people must really hate their jobs. When I was little I thought these tiny buildings were where they housed all the unhappy people in the United States of America. I was always concerned that if I complained too much about my layers of clothes I would be put in one of these little houses for punishment.
A few weeks back my lovely niece, Hinda, and I went for a run to the US. I wasn’t really paying attention as I pulled up to the booth entering Grand Island so I was really caught off guard when this great big, shiny grin greeted me with a “Hiiiiyaaaa Baaaaabeeeeee!”. I had no control, I grinned back like an idiot in shock. My niece looked a little like a deer caught in headlights and she had a big grin on her face as well. I greeted this friendly woman, and thanked her. “You both have a wonderful day now,” she said as she raised the gate. I hesitantly moved on. I said hesitantly, because I did not want to leave this wonderful woman that could spread such joy. Hinda, who is not a border kid but her mother is, exclaimed “Wow”, and asked if that had ever happened before. Honestly, never! Absolutely never! We had caught it, though. The joy had entered my little Honda Civic and it stayed all day. We laughed, smiled and talked about that lady all day. We told my other niece and my sister. We told pretty much anyone who would listen. For a few days I thought of that woman who obviously loved her job, loved her life, loved people and was just full of joy.
Weeks went by, I crossed the bridge several times…same old, same old. I forgot about my person of “joy”.
This past Monday, my husband and I ventured that way, as we approached the toll I realized I had never told him about the “Joy” lady and started to as he pulled up to the booth, and this face came in the window with a big grin and said, “Hiiiiyaaaa Baaaaabeeeeee!”. He grinned. I grinned. I leaned forward and waved, she leaned forward and waved, and gave me another “Hiiiiyaaaa Baaaaabeeeeee!” My husband pulled away. He said, “Do you know her?”, I said, “no, but doesn’t she make you feel like you are old friends she hasn’t seen in awhile?” We grinned and giggled the rest of the night about it. I phoned Hinda, and told her we had just encountered the “Joy” lady, and she started laughing and talking about her, too.
Other than calling her the “Joy” lady, I have no idea who this woman is. In my opinion she is the best asset the Grand Island Bridge Authority has and she should probably be training all their employees. I will look for her every time I cross that bridge, and next time I will stop long enough to thank her for spreading the “joy”.