Expect the unexpected

racoonneighbour-2.jpg Photo: Gracey Stinson  

It was last Wednesday morning … a weekday morning like any other.
I was walking to the bus stop. Arrived. Stood with maybe 8 to 10 other people. I looked around and thought about the conversation that I’d just had with Mary Doug about how people are in a fog and in a hurry in the morning … and why no one noticed anything odd the morning that the 56 year old woman was attacked at the Skytrain station a few days ago.

I turned my gaze east along Broadway and my eyes fell upon a raccoon. Just standing on Broadway as if she were saying, “Jeez, I wished I’d stopped at Starbucks!” She was outside the post office and Copies Plus. A man was making his way down the sidewalk toward her with a coffee in his hand. He noticed her and made a very deliberate veer off to the left … you know of those stories about raccoons tearing a dog’s underbelly open with their hind legs. I can only imagine what this man was thinking … but he did give the raccoon a wide berth.

I was amused and amazed at the same time. I glanced around to see if any of my bus stop companions had noticed. Not a SINGLE one had observed that a raccoon was literally 25 feet from us and contemplating the benefits of a Seattle’s Best at the IGA or going back down Broadway to Starbucks. No one looked around, no one looked in my direction so that I could catch and redirect their eye.

As I continued to watch the raccoon, she began to amble toward the curb. As she rumbled along, my heart began to climb up my throat … I’ve had the dubious honour of watching a Canada goose escort her family across Broadway in the middle of rush hour before! I did intervene in that situation to stop traffic at Broadway and Granville – and was most grateful that drivers did see me and chose not to make me a grease spot along with the geese. While this film was playing in my head, the raccoon paused at the curb, glancing both ways. Traffic lights changed at the intersections a block on either side of Maple. Traffic stopped and the section of Broadway in question was completely devoid of traffic. Amazing! The raccoon stepped off the curb and waddled with purpose across Broadway, up onto the sidewalk and then continued in between a restaurant and the Frog ‘n’ Firkin Pub. Whew! Two seconds later, traffic was again barreling down Broadway and my bus arrived. I glanced around and was astounded that truly no one had observed this tiny (near) collision of worlds.

This experience got me to thinking about the benefit of paying attention to details. Freckle for example, will drill her already smunched in nose into the concrete sidewalk while chasing the blossoms flitting in the wind. A tiny motion to us is cause to leap into action for her. Ceilidh will throw her weight at the TV to avenge the insolent cell phone creatures and their antics. Sometimes I think we humans require a tsunami before we’ll notice what’s going on. What does that mean? Why does it take an exaggerated event before humans notice that we’re sharing our space with events—maybe many—all around us? Why is it that a dog can sit and watch a bug crawl across the floor for hours and never seem to get bored? Maybe it’s about expectations? Maybe we see what we expect to see—like all of my bus stop neighbours? They were looking for a bus … and lo! They saw a bus. If that’s the case, I have one wish for all of us. Expect the unexpected. Look for the worlds intersecting. It can be breath-taking and it might save someone from a brutal attack.

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