Publishing stories of fascinating Prairie People and Unsung Heroes

Welcome to the blog of Deana Driver - author, editor, and publisher of DriverWorks Ink, a book publishing company based in Saskatchewan. We publish stories of inspiring, fascinating Prairie people and unsung Canadian heroes - written by Prairie authors including Deana Driver. We also publish genres of healing and wellness, humour, children's fiction, and rural poetry. Visit our website to learn more about our books.

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Tale of the Shopping Cart and the Strangers - with my gratitude

I'm sending some pretty flowers out over the Internet to two people I do not know who helped to make a strange encounter at the shopping mall much more bearable.

Thank you for being so kind.

Here's my side of the story 
– because every journalist (and semi-retired journalist) knows there is always more than one side to every story.

As I approached my vehicle after coming out of a store, I watched a man in a large SUV truck drive into the spot in front of where I was parked. He came to a stop too late and knocked a shopping cart over onto the front of my vehicle.

When he got out of his Hummer, I calmly said, "Did you know you knocked a shopping cart into my vehicle?"

"No," he replied.

I was sure that it had not fallen hard enough to cause damage, so I wasn't really concerned, but I was frustrated that he had not seen it over the top of his big vehicle. "You should watch where you are driving next time and be more careful," I added.

He was not impressed. He replied that he did watch where he was driving and then said, "Did I put the shopping cart there?"

Um, what? Shouldn't you be watching for carts and other potential obstacles ... such as, maybe, children ... when you're driving?

Anyway, I replied, calmly, that he had not watched well enough and that he should be more careful.

He was obviously upset with me. He asked if I wanted him to move his vehicle. My answer went unheard because he ignored my reply that it wasn't necessary. He got back into his vehicle and backed it up a foot or more.

During this, I got into my vehicle, as did the woman who was parked beside me. She had seen, heard, and watched the whole thing. 

The fellow then got out of his vehicle, looked over at someone that I couldn't see, swore while saying whatever he said that I couldn't quite hear (which I assumed was something negative about me), and carried on into the drugstore.

The woman in her vehicle looked over at me and shrugged her shoulders. We smiled at each other. I mouthed the word, "Special." She nodded and then drove away.

I was grateful for her kindness. We shared a mutual confusion and wonder about what the man was thinking. She understood me. 

This rose is for her. 

Now here's an interesting twist in the tale...

Just before I started my vehicle to continue on my way, an elderly man walked over, using his cane, and asked me to roll down my window. He then asked if I needed a witness.

"No. Thank you. I'm sure there wasn't any damage. It's fine," I replied.

He introduced himself as "an old retired police officer" and insisted on checking my vehicle's front to make sure there was no damage. He informed me that even though there was no damage, if he had not been retired, he would have charged this man with "undue care and attention".

I was surprised. I didn't think it was that serious. Just annoying.

And I was grateful that a complete stranger had walked out of his way to offer support like that.

So this rose goes to him.

I am thankful for his kindness and offer of assistance after a strange encounter in a parking lot with a man who was having a bad day.

The driver of the Hummer was obviously unhappy before he even got out of his vehicle and was confronted by me. I could see it on his face.

I later wondered about his story. Maybe he is ill. Maybe someone in his family is ill. Maybe someone he loved has passed away. Maybe he has financial woes. Maybe he is getting laid off at work. Maybe he has employees who are relying on him in a business that is struggling. Maybe he has other issues that are causing him to be less than completely observant of his surroundings. Or maybe he's just a jerk.

In any case, I had enjoyed a lovely lunch and visit with a dear friend, so that had put me in a positive frame of mind to handle myself with dignity.

This time.

Today was a good day for me. On a lesser day, I don't know what I would have done. Maybe just stared and glared and then walked away. Maybe cried, most likely after I quietly got into my vehicle. Maybe nothing, and then been angry and stewed about it for hours. Maybe screamed, although that's not as likely since that isn't my character. I don't know. I just know that I was proud of the way I handled it and pleased with the way two strangers were there for me if I needed them.

It was a reminder also that we don't know another person's story. Even if we've talked with them about what they're thinking and feeling, we don't really know.

We haven't walked in their shoes. Or driven in their Hummers. (Winky face.)  

Since we don't know what they're feeling or what they are living with in their everyday lives, we have to try to be kind.

Some days, that is easier than others. We do the best we can.

So this pretty flower is for that guy in the Hummer who was having a bad day. 

I hope tomorrow is better for him. And for us too.

Let's keep on doing the best that we can and not beat ourselves up for the things we did wrong today.

Tomorrow's a new day. Let's try to be better at life tomorrow.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

It's Potty Time in Europe

It's potty time in Europe! Yes, it's time to check out some of the places in which one can dispose of their ... er... waste while in France, Germany, and Switzerland.

On a recent vacation in Europe, my friend and fellow author Janice Howden and I saw amazing scenery, churches, canals, castles and more. But I was also intrigued by the variety of toilets we saw on our journey - because my weird mind works that way.

Jan (right) is the author of Rescued, her puppy dog's true story of finding a forever home. Jan and I were thrilled to see tulip fields for the first time.
No, there is no toilet in this photo. It's just a photo of us during one of the best moments of our trip. We loved the tulip fields in the Netherlands.

I found it interesting that European hotel rooms often have shoe shine cloths but no wash cloths or facial tissue, like those we are accustomed to using in North America. So you can clean your shoes but not use something to wash your face or wipe your nose.

We used this new-fangled, self-cleaning public toilet in Paris. It is on a sidewalk near the Notre Dame Cathedral. You press a button to enter. The door opens and closes behind you.
After you've done your business, you wash and blow-dry your hands. You press a button inside to exit the toilet. Then the door closes and locks so the toilet can clean itself with sanitizing water/spray before it allows the next person to enter. But you have to be done in 20 minutes or the toilet door opens! And you'd better not wait until the last minute to get in line because it takes a LONG time with the toilet cleaning after each person is done. You're better off using a pay toilet or going to a restaurant and buying something to use their toilet. The toilet room staff in those places help maintain cleanliness and ensure safety.  

This toilet in our hotel room in Basel, Switzerland gained my respect for its use of gravity. The tank is the highest placement above the toilet bowl than any I've ever seen. You even have to reach up a bit to use the flushing handle. Obviously not meant to be operated by children.

This fascinating trio of public toilets sits in Basel, Switzerland, beside a walking path along the Rhine River. I didn't go inside any of these street toilets, but I was very curious about the toilet on the left with the large, peeing man on it. His hat is probably a sleep hat, but I couldn't help thinking he was a jester from the old days. Stay tuned on that one...

Jan posed in front of this collection of self-cleaning toilets in downtown Basel. These toilets had better signage inside to explain the various functions.

The interior, although wet from the last sanitizing wash, was sparse and clean.

Toilet paper, anyone? It self-dispenses when you put your hand near it.

Water to wash. Dryer to dry.
At a public park in Switzerland, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to see what this toilet was like inside. Big mistake. BIG! The image on the outside was the only funny thing about this toilet.
There are doors on both sides. Just standing near the entrance to one of the open doors was enough for me. Inside was a long trough on either side - one for Number One and one for Number Two. They were not cleaned out. If there was a flushing mechanism, it had not been used. I did not see anything for hand washing. I'm hoping I just missed these essential items because I left so quickly. Ewwwww! No wonder the doors were left open on both sides.
At least in the outhouse on the farm where I grew up in Western Canada, everything was down one hole dug into the ground, out of plain view, and the open air reduced the smell, especially in winter. Yuk.

Sorry about that. Moving on...

Now this I recognize! It's a Port-a-potty - European style - at a construction site in Switzerland.

In Koblenz, Germany we saw these portable potties at a downtown market square. I couldn't resist taking a photo of them with the fountain in the foreground. Maybe the water helps some people "go".

And now, we go back to the time before Christ, when the Romans had sewage systems, indoor plumbing and heated floors. These are the remains of a Roman sewer system in Cologne. Fascinating.

The Romans had running water, treated sewage, and other services that disappeared for generations after wars destroyed their innovations. So sad is the damage caused by war.

Ah, now, this is the toilet style I am used to - a flushing toilet, a clean bathroom, a sink to wash up - except the toilet paper is considerably lower down here than you'll see in North American bathrooms. I don't understand the thinking, but this was on a river cruise ship, so maybe space was a factor. It worked, though, except in the middle of the night once, when I had to search for the roll I had accidentally knocked off its low hanger. Oops.

And that concludes my look at some potties in some parts of Europe.

As our friend, the late Bob Hughes, former sports editor and managing editor of the Regina Leader-Post used to say, "Y'er welcome.”