May 16, 2015 - Matty (1st person I approached)
Always look for the silver lining, right? A good friend is in hospital for a few days, and I was on my way to pay him a quick visit this morning. This meant leaving my building and turning right, instead of my usual left and down the main street. I didn’t quite make it to the end of my block, when I noticed a man across the street, removing a lightbulb from a standard lamp that someone had thrown out. It was standing next to a dumpster.
I’ve been looking for pretty much this very style and size of lamp for behind my couch. I asked the man who was examining the lightbulb if he was going to take the lamp, but he just wanted the lightbulb. It was a win-win situation for both of us. I took the lamp back home, and was happy to discover that it works!
I left my house, and once again, turned to go right instead of the usual left turn I make when leaving my building. I got to the end of my block, and noticed a handsome man walking toward the intersection I was about to cross. Our eyes met, we smiled and both kept walking. I may or may not have turned around to look again. Maybe.
I carried on to the hospital to check in on my friend. It was good news. While he’s going to remain there for a few more days, he’s definitely on the mend. As I was walking home, I decided I’d see if I could meet a stranger for a chat. Another four days have passed since my last story, and I had mentioned to my friend at the hospital that I needed to get out and meet someone!
I walked to my local shopping mall, going in a door that I don’t often use. I normally make a sweep of the main floor and then head upstairs if I’m checking out the mall for someone to chat with. Today, I went in through a door that was on the upper floor. I was going in reverse it seemed. I spotted Matty sitting at a table, drinking a coffee. He had a few books and a note pad with him, and looked like he was studying. He was the guy that I had passed on the street earlier, while on my way to the hospital. The handsome guy, not the one who took the lightbulb from the lamp. He readily agreed to chat.
Matty was born London, England.
“I lived in Essex. My parents split-up when I was very young, and I lived with my mother,” he told me. I couldn’t detect much of an accent. Matty told me that his accent usually becomes more pronounced when he's around other English people, or after a couple of pints (of beer).
“I was good in school. I played a lot of soccer,” he said. His father had come to Canada and remarried.
“When I was sixteen, I moved over here to live with my Dad. He has two children with my stepmother, so I have a younger sister and brother,” Matty told me.
“School was very different here in Canada. I feel like the students are smarter and work harder. In England everyone is working towards their GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education). The teachers can’t give you your grades, it’s only the government that issues tests. I would go to school and have a good time with my mates, and then cram before exams, and I did alright. When I came over here, I learned the hard way. I wasn’t so good with Math. I did a test, knowing that I didn’t do so good. I figured it was not a big deal, and that I’d do better on the next one. Then I found out that test was worth forty percent of my overall mark for that subject!” he said, still with an air of surprise in his voice.
“After being in Canada for about six months, I went back to England to visit my mother and see my friends. Everyone was all excited to see me and it felt great to be around my mates again. When I got back to Vancouver, I decided that I wanted to move back to England. I missed everyone too much. I did the 30k move,” he said.
I wasn’t sure what that meant and asked Matty to explain it.
“That's what it’s called when an entire family moves to a new country. There’s that risk that things don’t work out, so they have to pay to move everyone and everything back. It’s usually a 50k move, but as it was just me, I did a 30k move,” he said, laughing.
“The thing is, when I got back to England after deciding to move, my mates didn’t throw a party for me or anything. It wasn’t the same as when I had gone back for a vacation. I started to realize that I actually had it better in Canada. We lived in West Van, and I was going to school in Caulfield (West Vancouver). My mother’s house was small, and it just didn’t feel right,” he told me. Six weeks later, Matty was back in school, in West Vancouver.
“I had just missed the chance to graduate from Grade eleven, so I had to do some courses over the summer to make up my grades. I took ten classes that summer and worked really hard. The school even called my stepmother to discuss how many classes I had signed up for. She told them if I signed up, then I was going to do them, and I did,” he told me, proudly.
“The best thing about going to school in Vancouver compared to England? Having an English accent and going to school in West Van!” he said, with a coy smile, laughing.
Matty continued to play soccer, and was applying at colleges in the United States (USA).
“I got a full ride at a school in Indiana. It was through the NCAA (The National Collegiate Athletic Association). I was at the airport about to get on a plane to go to Indiana, when I got a call from the coach. He told me that I was ineligible. Because I was an English kid who had gone to school in England and Canada. They'd either pull your transcripts from England or from Canada. They considered me to have graduated twice, so I wasn’t eligible," said Matty.
"I had been in contact with a coach at UVic (University of Victoria, British Columbia), and I called him. He told me I could start the next day. I went straight from the airport to the ferry terminal to the Island (Vancouver Island),” Matty said. Two weeks later, he got a call from Indiana saying that they were going to accept him.
“I had already started training camp at UVic, and I liked the school and the campus there, so I stayed.”
Four years later, Matty got his Bachelor’s degree in E-Comm (electronic commerce).
“I could have done business, but I had worked a number of summer jobs and knew that sales was where I wanted to be. I’m good at sales and I like it,” he said. Right after graduation from university, Matty came back to Vancouver and started working.
“I’ve done some property management and am a realtor as well. I really like real estate, but I want to get set up so I’m generating an income stream. Sure I could sell one high-priced (real estate) listing and make a hundred thousand in commission, but there’s a risk to that. I want to be generating a constant source of income,” he said.
“I’d like to have a brokerage, where I’m looking after a number of brokers and working that way. I’m studying for my brokerage license now,” he said, gesturing to the books on the table in front of him.
After I took a photograph of Matty, he said he had to get going. He and his girlfriend were heading off to an afternoon at the racetrack. We walked back to the intersection where I had first seen him. I asked if he had gotten much studying done today.
“Well,” he said, "I was doing okay and then this guy came over and started asking me all these questions,” he said, smiling at me. He has one of those smiles that lights up his entire face. He’ll sell lots of houses. Or water, or ice-cubes, or whatever he chooses to sell. #notastranger