A Letter to the Man in the Peacoat

This is for the young man at JJ Bean today. Thank you for noticing. Thank you for making others notice, thank you for caring.

I went to JJ Bean today after picking up my daughter from school (coffee shops are a way of life here, JJ Bean is a local company- and they have access to the best bakery in the city). I am not well at the moment. I’ve got something autonomic that is way off. I can’t be on my feet for longer than about five minutes. I can sit with my legs down for a bit, but at home my feet are elevated almost all the time. As soon as I’m on my feet my BP and temperature skyrocket. It’s stopped me in my tracks. In the last two weeks I’ve been to the ER, my chiropractor and ambulatory care for my port access change. That’s it. I had some time with just my daughter between picking up kids on Wednesday, and we started to go for coffee in the last few months. (I’m less reactive than I’ve been in a long time, it’s amazing. I have my friend xolair to thank!)  I was completely stir crazy, and I had to go to ambulatory care anyhow, so I thought I’d try to fit it in. We had a little rest in the car after my access change). I was ok in line, and ordering, I started to feel not so hot as we waited for her hot chocolate. Then we went to find a table, and there was nothing available (there were two when we came in- only one person in front of us, not sure how that happened, I wouldn’t have gone in if I knew I couldn’t get a table.). I was rapidly hitting ‘I will be sitting down in about 60 seconds whether I choose to or not….’ The room was spinning, black blobs taking over.

And a man noticed. There was a long counter seating, one chair available at one end, one at the other. Three people in between. All young men playing on their laptops who looked like they’d moved in. The man was his 20’s, very hipster (perfectly non-affected), was wearing a peacoat (Where’s this guy from? Nobody in Vancouver owns a wool coat of any kind- it’s a rainforest, this is a land of polarfleece and gortex….) stepped in. He asked the men on their computers if the chairs were taken, told them to take their bags off the stools, and shuffle over so that we could sit down. He even took a jacket off one a chair and hung it on the back of the chair of its owner, saying “Come on, pay attention here, you don’t own the place, other people gotta sit down!.” I mercifully sat down, I was within moments of passing out, my only other option was to sit on the stairs or the middle of the shop. I don’t know who he was, and he disappeared right away. I was in bad shape, I couldn’t even see his face, let alone say “Thank You”. I felt better after sitting down, but he was gone.

The men he asked to move over were playing an MMPG (multiplayer online games), and they were communicating with each other through their laptops, even though they were sitting across from one another. (Such an odd interaction…). This guy who helped me was so blunt with them, if someone had called me out for that at the same age I would have been mortified! They had no embarrassment or even awareness that they were being rude to put their stuff on the only two chairs in the place, and grumble about moving them.

So, young man in the peacoat, Thank You. You helped me SO much by facilitating a coffee with my daughter. It may not seem like much to you, but somehow you understood that I was done. Those times together are few and far between, and it’s so important to both of us. You rescued me from embarrassing and upsetting my daughter. We were a block from my local ER, you saved me from ending up there (which if I’d passed out probably would have happened). Seriously, that’s huge. SO huge. (You have no idea how huge…). You recognized that I needed help, but you asked first, and weren’t patronizing in the least. You had no expectation of reward or recognition, which is pretty special. It meant a lot to me. Thank You.

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