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the camera man from the Ukraine

cute-blue-cameraA list for Italy includes “camera”. I fish mine out from the bottom of my “tech beyond my understanding” drawer. Poor old man Canon. His face is popping off, his memory is jarred, his eye is stuck out, permanently unfocused. It looks painful. Like a bad day with Levitra. I bring him to Camtex on 5th and place him in the loving hands of a man from the Ukraine who knows what it feels like to be discarded when no longer useful. I say to him, “I am so sorry about what they are doing to your country.”

Whatever profit he makes off of my Canon, half of it goes back to the old country, to his relatives in need. His eyes tear up as he explains this to me, lost in memory over the open till, holding my bill. “Why must they take more more more. They can’t even take care of what they already have. They went to space and back. Is that not enough?”

Unknown-1He praises me for my beautiful Italian name, as if I had anything to do with it. We speak of Italy and my pending trip. He smiles widely. “The Italians understand joy. In fact, most Europeans”, he figures.

“I can always tell a Canadian who is more than two generations. They have a mask. A mask of ice. It falls over their face. When Canadians speak, not even their lips move. I am not saying they are not happy. I do not know. But I am saying they do not show it.”

I ponder this as I fondle my Canon’s removed face.

“Do you think it is because we become ungrateful? We become spoiled?”

He looks out the window at the cars whizzing by. “I think it is because Canadians are always so busy busy busy.”

I joke, “Or maybe it’s just too damn cold here to smile?”Unhappy Depressed Woman

He narrows his icy blue eyes at me. “No. It is cold where I come from too. It’s a mask. And it’s too bad. But I can tell you are only one generation Canadian, because you still know how to smile.”

I head out the door and into the damp spring air. I think Vancouver has overheard our conversation. I think this Eeyore city suddenly decides to pull up his socks. He knows I’m going to Italy in three days. He greets me around the corner with a pressed shirt and a close shave, a handful of rare afternoon sunshine and a bed full of firm tulips. And just to be completely unforgettable, he leads me through an arbour of cherry blossoms on my way back to the car.

Happy.

Unknown-2

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2 comments

  1. Lynne

    I simply have to disagree with the statement that “Canadians” wear a mask. I have found that people in big cities wear masks; however, in the rural areas and small towns, this simply isn’t the case. I moved from a large city where I hardly even knew my neighbours, to a small town where you really get to know many of the residents. Right from the get-go people smiled and said hi as I passed them on the street. I have just returned from Mesa where I lived in a resort of 700 homes. 60% of the people there were Canadian. Everyone you pass you say hi to or wave to them as they drive by – and you don’t even know them. That is the norm. Smiles are in abundance. I love it!!

    1. Lucia Frangione

      I agree with you entirely! I was sad to hear about his experience of Canadians. But he lived in the cities: Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. I will soon find out if European cities have open faces!

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