Date Posted: August 22, 2016Reading time: 3 minutes
This morning I slept through my alarm and was running late for an early morning flight to Toronto. I called for a cab even before jumping in the shower so by the time I raced down my porch steps Sam had been waiting for 10 minutes. You would never know this by the beaming grin on his face, and this was even before I produced an extra coffee for him.
As we pulled away from my house he proceeded to explain how coffee originated from his native Ethiopia, and that it, his wife, and great runners were the best things to come out of that troubled nation of over 100 million. The next 30 minutes flew by while Sam covered religion, politics, parenting and our shared passion for soccer on which we agreed that Manchester United is back! As it happens neither Sam or I are Canadians by birth, but both Canadians by choice: me by the choice of my British parents, and Sam by his own good foresight.
It soon became clear to me why my tardiness had no negative impact on Sam’s outlook. You see Sam comes from a country where people are executed every day for civil disobedience that our lawmakers would not even ticket us for. “First world problem”, he said when talking about the trivial dilemmas his two pre-teen kids complain about every day. Compare this with his brother who has been in an Ethiopian prison for the past two years which is just a little better than the fate of his fellow protesters who were shot for their participation.
The Olympics were to blame, or thank, for my chance encounter with Sam. You see, like most Canadians I have been sucked into an Olympics that stumbled out of the blocks somewhere between my skepticism and my bitterness that Coronation Street has been preempted for two weeks. Like most of the past 12 nights I stayed up later than planned and my mornings have suffered. But Penny Oleksiak, Andre De Grasse, Derek Drouin and others have reminded us all what Sam tells every unassuming passenger who climbs into his Minivan, that Canada is the greatest country in the world.
As my patriotism swells each quadrennial I’m humbled by those like Sam who don’t depend on these impressive sporting heroes to raise our adrenaline and our pride. All they need each day are healthy children and happy customers. “I love this country and I’m so happy my children are Canadian,” Sam told me as he handed me my luggage. I thanked him for the ride and thanked him for reminding me how lucky we all are to live in this country.
We never got around to talking about the purpose of my trip: to see the Tragically Hip’s show on Saturday, August 20 in Kingston, which is just as well since I doubt he knows where Bobcaygeon is or what the hell Fifty-Mission Caps are. But make no mistake, Sam is Fully Completely, a Canadian.
Where you can watch CBC’s live broadcast of the Tragically Hip’s show if you’re not in Kingston: