A very moving (and very Toronto) conversation

17 Jun

I am sure it is quite obvious to any followers of my blog that I haven’t done a “Lunch with Mary” lunch in quite some time. But that doesn’t mean that my continued interest in learning has slowed in any way. In fact, one of the greatest things I have learned through this process is an ability to get people to tell me their own fascinating stories. By no means do I consider myself a journalist, but I do think that “interviewing” is a skill and I definitely have been practicing over the years. The other day I had a really incredible conversation with a cab driver that I wanted to share. It was too long to share on Twitter and didn’t seem appropriate to post to Facebook, so I have decided to share it here. The conversation took place last Thursday, June 12, the day of the Ontario election. I’ve purposely left out several identifying details as I wasn’t originally planning on writing this. But I thought it was important enough to share so I am doing so in a way that is anonymous for him.

We were driving up Church Street when the driver began to comment on how many rainbow flags were flying everywhere. I mentioned how the crosswalks were now painted rainbow and that the American consulate also had a huge rainbow banner. I was saying how great it is to see and he agreed.

He then told me a story.

He said the first time he ever saw a gay couple was when he first came to Canada and began driving a cab in the mid-eighties. Two men got in his cab and started kissing. The driver told me he was from a very conservative country where you would never discuss anything like that, much less see it. He kicked them out of his cab. Pretty horrible.

And he got in big trouble, nearly lost his job as the couple (rightly) complained. This was a time, we should all remember, when inclusiveness and acceptance of the LGBT community was no where near where it is today.

But it was what he said next that really showed how far he has come and how far we as a society have come. He told me that today, he voted for a gay woman. And he didn’t hold his nose and vote. He actually didn’t seem to think it was a particularly big deal. He was just pretty happy to continue supporting the Liberals as he always had.

Now whether you are PC, Liberal, NDP, Green or undeclared, I think we can all take something from this story that makes us proud to live where we do. People can learn and people can change and a little bit more understanding about others can go a very long way.

2 Responses to “A very moving (and very Toronto) conversation”

  1. Corey Fischer (@bowsering) June 17, 2014 at 10:16 pm #

    A very refreshing and uplifting story!
    Too often the media is relegated to reporting atrocities and negative accounts about society. We have made significant strides, and you can’t change attitudes overnight. It’s something we all have to live. Our online world has allowed hatred and ignorance to be spread without fear of consequence; One can call Montreal defenseman PK Subban a nigger, and then delete his/her profile. Others will react, and the story is made to be news.

    I read through a series of comments regarding the Washington Redskins ongoing name saga; some were excellent, some were reasonable, some were thought-provoking. And then some were bombastic, ill-conceived, and unfortunate; on both sides of the issue. Empathy can be hard to find.

    In the early 21st century, almost all of humanity can converse with each other. There is an audience. The backward notions that our predecessors held may be slowly eroding, but the remnants are ever-magnified because of our amazing ability to communicate.

    Positive reinforcement of how individuals can grow can also be made to be news. It takes the courage of one person to open, and a second person to share. Thank you for sharing, Mary. This was a tremendous anecdote! :)

  2. Lunch with Mary June 18, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

    @Corey – Thanks for your comment! Glad that it made you think.

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