True story: I’m walking down the big hill from Fourth Avenue to the Jericho Beach Hostel in Vancouver. I’m late coming back from doing editing work at Whole Foods, and I have to rush to the hostel to pick up some luggage that I’d stored there for the day and then immediately rush (by bus) to the VIA station to catch the train to Winnipeg. While I’m lost in my thoughts (mainly about how late I am and that maybe I’ll even miss my train since I have no idea which bus to take and when it’s supposed to come), I notice a scrawny, bent-over old white-haired guy walking up the hill towards me.

He’s rolling a couple of pieces of luggage behind him and he’s also carrying one of the luggage dollies (I call them “rollies”) that I bought at Canadian Tire in Halifax to wheel my stuff around. At least I think it’s my rollie. I’d left my big duffel bag and a big brown paper Whole Foods bag stuffed with a few odds and ends (including one of my two rollies) in the “after hours” storage room. When I see the old guy walking up the hill carrying the rollie, I immediately think it’s mine and that he’s either found it or just claimed it when he went to get his stuff. So, as he passes me on his way up the hill, I say to him bluntly: “Where did you get that?”, pointing to the rollie. He looks up at me and says “Huh?”, partly because I don’t think he speaks English very well and also because it must have seemed like an odd question to him.  So I point again to the rollie and ask him again where he got it. He says: “I bought it at Canadian Tire in Toronto, but it’s getting too heavy for me to carry around. You can have it, if you want.” So he hands me the rollie, nods and smiles, and carries on up the hill.

Color me stunned, embarrassed, humiliated, humbled and speechless. Here I was, thinking the old guy was taking off with my rollie, when in fact it not only was his rollie but he was willing to give it to me without so much as a backward glance at it.

I walked the rest of the way down to the hostel thinking what an idiot I was and also wondering what the heck I was going to do now with three rollies. I fetched my stuff out the storage room (including rollie #2 that I thought had been swiped), and then ended up leaving rollie #3 on a bench outside the hostel. I just couldn’t handle it along with everything else. I hope someone who genuinely needs it finds it.

As for the scrawny old bent-over guy with the white hair – he’s sitting four rows ahead of me on the train. He nods and smiles whenever I walk by.

True story.

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