I wanted to write about Mr. Joe JC since I met him in York Region Transit Bus No. 5 (Clark route). He usually hops on from bus stop at York Hill Boulevard on Clark Avenue. He’s in his 60s, but looks younger. He likes to talk and sharing his views about everything and anything, especially about his Jewish heritage and Canada. He has no problem in engaging people he newly met in a conversation – and almost always the people would talk back to him. *smile*
Today after he got on the bus he said “good morning ladies” before he sat behind me, next to a beautiful young girl. He yawned couple times before he initiated the conversation.
Mr. Joe JC: “I’m tired and sleepy. How about you?”
Young girl: “Same here.”
Mr. Joe JC: “How come? You’re still so young and beautiful.”
Young girl: (laughed)
Mr. Joe JC: “Are you working?”
Young girl: “Yes.”
Mr. Joe JC: “Where?”
Young girl: “TD Bank.”
Mr. Joe JC: “I’m TD’s customer. A good bank if you have money.”
Young girl: “Hehe…”
Mr. Joe JC: “How old are you? 19?”
Young girl: “No, I’m 22.”
Mr. Joe JC: “You’re young, beautiful. You work hard too, right? You have everything in front of you.”
Young girl: “Hehe, thank you…”
Then, Mr. Joe JC asked the girl about her hometown. She mentioned a name in Russia, to which Mr. Joe JC said that he came from different village in that area too.
Mr. Joe JC: “I know why I chose to sit here beside you among all other seats… because I have the feeling that we have something in common.”
Young girl: (laughed)
Mr. Joe JC: “Were you born here?”
Young girl: “No, I was born in Russia.”
Mr. Joe JC: “How long have you been here?”
Young girl: “Six years.”
Mr. Joe JC: “But you speak English well.”
Young girl: “Well, I’ve been in Canada for 11 years.”
Mr. Joe JC: “Do you speak Yiddish or Russian?”
Young girl: “No, but my parents speak Russian at home.”
Mr. Joe JC: “You better know your heritage although you’re far away from it.”
Young girl: “Hehe…”
Mr. Joe JC: “Do you know why your parents moved to Canada?”
Young girl: “I think to find a better life.”
Mr. Joe JC: “Yes, they’re right. I came to Canada in 1960 with almost nothing in my pocket and could not even speak English. Not like you and your generation that can speak English better than my generation when we first landed in Canada.”
Young girl: “Yeah…”
Mr. Joe JC: “By the way, what’s your name?”
Young girl: “Erika.”
Mr. Joe JC: “My name is Joe, nice to meet you. I tell you, Erika, this is the best place to live on earth. I’ve been to the other side of the world and I think there’s no place like Canada. I was born in Russia, and then after the war (note: WWII) we moved to Poland. It’s no better than Russia. We moved to Canada in 1960. You know what people look for in their life? People look for peace. Don’t you think so?”
Young girl: “Yes”
Mr. Joe JC: “Look at this country. I’m responsible for it. I build this country as well as other hard-working immigrants. It’s one country that can truly claim that it’s growing and prosper because of the immigrants. We can mingle but still retain our heritage and identity. We don’t provoke people to go to war or instill hatred. We have problems but we work things out. And I am proud of it.”
He spoke that sentence with gusto. Wow! (Mr. Joe JC, you make me shifting my inclination!)
He talked about many other things and I enjoyed it during this commuting ride. I could just fall into sleep if there’s no Mr. Joe JC on the bus. *smile*
I thought it’s my lucky day because when I sat on the subway train bound to downtown, Mr. Joe JC sat right in front of me. This time he “entertained” a young Chinese couple about life in Canada. *smile* I could still hear what they’re talking about in the jam-packed train during rush hour. Well, I can relate to things they’re talking about, as most immigrants do.
Mr. Joe JC said “God bless you” to the couple before they parted – like they’re some old friends.
I find people like Mr. Joe JC very interesting. They always look at things positively. They’re kind, friendly, and helpful. They don’t just complain but they try hard to make a difference. They contribute to their environment and are proud of it. They share but never force what they believe in. They are not some idling retirees. They keep their contribution to society well beyond their retirement age. What an inspiration!
PS. Do you know why I name him Mr. Joe JC?