Day 225 - Jeff (4th person I approached)
August 13, 2014 - I saw Jeff from an upper level of a mall. He was on the lower level, looking at his phone, standing outside a store. Something told me that if I could get down there before he moved on, I’d be chatting with him. When I approached him, Jeff said yes he’d chat with me. He said that his girlfriend was just in a store doing some shopping. He also told me he was sure that if she came out and we were talking that it would be fine to continue our chat. We spoke for a minute or two and then when his phone rang, he excused himself, telling me he had to take the call. While he was talking on the phone, a woman in a lovely long white dress came out of the store we were in front of. I could tell by the way she walked near him and the way she looked at him, that she was his girlfriend. I also wondered how this would all go down. The woman in the white dress stood around for a moment or two and then went into another store nearby.
Jeff finished his call and apologized.
“We just arrived in town and somewhere between the airport and here, I managed to lose my driver's license. I won’t have any ID to get on the plane home on Friday. That call was from a buddy of mine who went over to my house and grabbed my passport to send to me so I can get home. It’s been a really stressful couple of hours,” he said, appearing completely calm on the outside. I asked if his girlfriend was the woman in the long white dress, and when he said
“Yes,” I mentioned she had gone into the other store.
“Oh, great. So, where were we?”
He was born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
“I have two brothers, I’m the youngest of the three. I think that as the youngest, I tended to have it easier than my brothers did. My parents had gone through everything with them, so it was so much easier for me. My parents knew what to expect, I guess!” he said. Jeff went to one elementary and one high school.
“I was good in school. I played a lot of sports. Most everything. I liked track and field the best. I didn’t do so well in drama class. We did plays, and I participated in them, but I was too shy to feel comfortable. It was different in track, I felt at ease there. And I was good at it too, yeah.” Jeff is still friends with a couple of people that he has known for years from school.
After graduating high school, Jeff went straight to university.
“It was kind of by default. My parents said that if I went to university right away, they’d help me out. If I didn’t go to school, then I was on my own. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I went to Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, and studied Forestry,” he said.
“It worked out well. I spent four years getting my Bachelor’s degree and was on the Honour list. I probably could have made the Dean’s List, I was close, but as I went straight into university, I had to make time to have a life as well. I worked and still wanted to party a bit, and make friends, be sociable. If I’d worked a little harder, then perhaps I would have made the Dean’s List.” While studying, Jeff worked in a Value Village (second hand clothing store) and also worked front desk at a hotel.
“As soon as I finished university, I headed out west,” said Jeff.
"I flew to Calgary. My intention was to travel throughout all of British Columbia (BC). I got on a bus and the first stop was Fernie (BC), just three hours from Calgary. I really liked it, so I stayed for a while. Then I thought ‘I’ll just ski here for the winter and see how that is,’ and I never left. I love that it’s a small town, and that there is such a great community feel to it. There’s so much to do, and I like being outdoors,” he said. Jeff is working in Forestry, in the planning aspect.
“I didn’t want to go into oil or gas and forestry work gets me outside. I work in planning, by determining in a forest which trees can be cut and which need to stay. Working in a manner which allows the forest to regenerate and the ecosystem to continue. I always want to be able to see forest. We factor in the animal species, plant regeneration and water needs to ensure that there will be a forest there for the next generation. We only get one forest per generation, so my job is to make sure it remains a viable one,” he said. Jeff has lived in Fernie for eleven years.
“I go back to Thunder Bay to visit my family, and while it’s nice to see them, it’s changed. I can’t imagine living there again. I love where I live.”
Jeff and his girlfriend had only just arrived in Vancouver this afternoon.
“I’m going into hospital tomorrow for surgery. I tore a ligament in my knee while skiing. I’ve worked hard, riding my bike every day and staying active and tried to heal it without resulting in surgery. But after two years, I need to get a new ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). We're just filling time before my appointment in an hour at the hospital. The surgery is tomorrow, and then we go home on Friday,” said Jeff. I asked if that meant no skiing for him this upcoming water. “
No, I’m looking at about a six month recovery period,” he replied.
His girlfriend had come out of the store. I explained what we were talking about. Serena said to take our time and went to sit down. I took Jeff’s picture and shook his hand, thanking him for chatting with with me.
“Thank you for asking me to chat. I was feeling really stressed out and you really helped to calm me down,” he said. I told Jeff that I had no idea that he was stressed. I said that living in nature and the smaller community was obviously having a positive effect on his stress management.
“Living in a smaller community, I like that people say hello and talk to one another. Then you come into a bigger city, and it’s not something that you expect or usually experience. I’m so glad you asked me to talk with you. Thanks for helping me to feel better!” #notastranger