Monday, April 13, 2009


So, this past Saturday, after working 8 hours at the St. Lawrence Market, I decided to go and confront the Maple Syrup Man and try to return the maple syrup I had bought from him the week before. (I had thought about simply using it on pancakes etc, but I just couldn't bring myself to do this because I didn't think I could enjoy it after all of the emotional turmoil I had felt.)

I didn't swear at him or try to act confrontational. With Laura's assistance, I told Maple Syrup Man that I was returning his syrup because I had felt offended by his comment re my inability to manage my own money. (He didn't know me or anything about my life! How could have put such a false label upon my being?) I also told him that I'd never buy anything from him again.

Maple Syrup Man didn't apologize, nor did he accept responsibility for the mental anguish and humiliation that he caused me. In fact, he flatly denied saying anything at all about my inability to handle my own money.

(Laura and I looked at each other in disbelief. We had both heard him with our own ears! How could he deny what he had said?)

Maple Syrup Man then tried to defend himself further by stating that he had only meant to complement Laura on the way she "took care of me".

Mentally, I screamed and ranted in my head. Didn't he realize that that comment was offensive too? Would he have gone up to the assistant of, say, Donald Trump, and commend them on how well they were "taking care" of Donald? I think not! I run my own art business; I manage my own attendant care business; I take care of my household, making sure there's enough food and essentials in our home. I'm a bright, capable person, and yet, that single comment seemed to put a dark shadow over all of my accomplishments.

Laura and I rolled our eyes and headed home; we knew there was no reasoning with Maple Syrup Man. He just had his own way of thinking. At least I had closure by returning his maple syrup.

But there is an even sweeter ending to this story; today Sarah brought me a huge jar of maple syrup. When she and her family heard that story of the Maple Syrup Man they put aside the maple syrup from their farm in Ottawa, just for me.

Thank you Sarah and family!

Saturday, April 4, 2009


So, this was my horoscope for today:

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

You are lucky. It's not clear what you've done to deserve this but Venus, the love planet, has something amazing in store for you.

Sounds fantastic, right? Of course. Now, I'm not one to put any stock in horoscopes - they're just for fun! However, for the past month or so, the Star's predictions have been eerily dead on. So, feeling slightly ridiculous, I was guardedly optimistic that today would be a good, if not great, day for me.

I should have known better. My lottery ticket didn't even have a single number (I almost always win at least a free ticket); it was cold and blustery and miserable on the way to the market; and, sales, sadly, were down today too. Oh, yeah, and the violin player drove me to distraction! He is such a terrible player!

Still, I remained optimistic. Happy, even.

Laura and I left at 4pm to head home. Motria was waiting for me there with a burger and Iced Capp. However, Laura and I crossed the street and started going along the perimeter of the north market where I spotted this guy selling maple syrup. Feeling like a treat, I chose the smallest and cheapest bottle ($3.50). Much to my amazement, the guy told Laura that he had a "severely disabled son" and that she shouldn't let me spend my money foolishly like his son was always doing.

I wanted to stay and tell him off. Laura wanted to stay and tell him off. Instead, knowing we had to hurry, we continued on. However, we periodically stopped to fume about that jerk. It was so incredibly rude to me, he didn't know me from Adam! I could have been rich - he didn't know! And that's odd that he let me buy his wares, then told Laura not to let me waste my money! We also felt sorry for his poor son, being labled by his own father as "severely disabled" and apparently a spendthrift.

As you can tell from my previous blog entries, this sort of thing happens to me frequently. Usually I can deal with people who don't understand, by either shrugging it off and leaving, or trying to reason with them. However, because of the week I had, this was not easy for me to just shake off.

It was a week full of hopeful things with bad things attached to them. First I learned of the government institutions closing down this week - fantastic! (check out the story in the Star: Great article, except that they don't mention the abuse that went on in these institutions for 200 years.) There was a film made recently about the clients of these institutions, and their stories were truly shocking. One person tried over and over again to escape, and he did, but he jumped on top of a train and slipped off and got his legs cut off. Still, that didn't stop him from trying again. It makes you wonder how terrible it must have been to live in one of those institutions. It also makes you wonder what kind of society we live in that we would allow this to happen for 200 years.

This past Thursday and Friday, I attended a conference hosted by the ODSP Action Coalition. Again, this was a very hopeful step. People believed in reforming ODSP, and giving dignity to its recipients. However, some things disturbed me: for example, I learned that hardly anybody can afford both rent and food. I also learned that 80% of people on ODSP who get married have their marriages end in divorce, because ODSP takes money away from one partner. No other social assistance program does that. It also disturbed me that most of the group seemed cautious about how to proceed. Their attitude was that we shouldn't ask for too much, because the government won't give it to us. One woman thought that she was so bold when she yelled out that we wouldn't stop until we had reached the poverty line. I told her no, no, no, we need to go past it and get a living wage!

Also, this week I had one of my friends tell me he wanted to die, and that really upset me because I love him. It upset me, too, because I know where this all comes from; his past was terrible, and he has very little support in his life. Society has failed him in many ways. I love him, and I won't let him give up. I've been in the that darkness, too. I've realized, though, that if people like my friend and me give up, then that's two less people to fight on - and we will fight on, no matter how many jerks there are.

In closing, if you're ever at the north part of St Lawrence Market and you see the guy selling maple products, do me a favour: either boycott him or tell him not to be so rude to his paying customers. Or tell him that Anne Abbott says, "fuck you!"