Small-town girl finds no place like home

Being a small-town girl I often wonder if I could make it in the big city

Dear editor,

Being a small-town girl I often wonder if I could make it in the big city with transit, crowds, pollution and begging on the street. This past month I have been able to visit the city on two different occasions and with completely different perpspectives.

On my first trip I went with my husband and we indulged in a weekend of fun with friends from long ago. We stayed at the Fairmont Vancouver downtown, ate in nice restaurants and went to a hockey game. My second trip was for work; I stayed in a so-so hotel in Richmond and used transit to get around.

Being from a small town you often get used to saying hello to pretty much everyone you see. You smile, wave or even stop to have a conversation. Sometimes going to the grocery store takes twice as long because you have to chat with all your friends or acquaintances.

The city is a much different experience for me. I was heartbroken to see the amount of begging on the streets. Each person I saw that was asking for money reminded me that they were once from a family. Good or bad, I am sure that at one point they were in a better place than begging on the street corner in Vancouver.

My question to myself was can you help everyone? Watching a gentleman give his change for a coffee and muffin at Tim Hortons and have the cashier look like he didn’t want to take his money was sad. He was a troubled individual who just wanted a coffee and a muffin.

Respect for everyone is so important and is something we must tell our children repeatedly.

My stay in Richmond allowed me to take public transit for the first time in about 18 years. The first thing I noticed was how everyone was either plugged into their music or just plain zoned out with their own thoughts. The bus driver was even listening to music with headphones. I searched for a friendly face just to feel connected with someone.

Transit was a very effective way to get downtown but surprised me with how quiet it was. No one spoke, no one talked on their phones or had any communication with another person on transit. Many people were texting, emailing and even checking their social network. It was amazing to realize that you can be surrounded with hundreds of people and still feel all alone.

Coming home I realized that being from a small town is the most comforting feeling. Seeing people you know pretty much anywhere you go is a pleasant experience. We may complain that we don’t have all the amenities that a big city has but for this small town girl I wouldn’t change a thing!

Karen Aoki

Port McNeill



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