Day 336 - Simon

Day 336 - Simon (2nd person I approached)
December 02, 2014 - One of my favourite pastimes, is sitting inside a coffee shop, daydreaming and watching the world go by. It’s something that I have done and enjoyed for many years. For me, it’s a way to relax, to think and to observe. This year, and this project, have brought a new perspective to this pastime. I’m now actively looking into coffee shops, watching for people who seem to be doing that very thing. Passing time.


I was crossing the road at a busy intersection, and typically, there’s a coffee shop with large windows on at least one corner. This is Vancouver, after all. I saw Simon, who appeared to be alone, sitting inside, coffee in one hand, phone in the other. I went in and crouched down to his eye level and explained to him what I was doing, asking if he would chat with me. He agreed and I grabbed a chair to sit next to him. 


“I was born in Toronto. Downtown,” he said.

“I have an older sister and a younger brother. We’re all fairly close in age. As the middle child, I was always the peacekeeper. I was constantly mediating between my sister and my brother,” said Simon, with a chuckle. It’s a trait that seems to have found it’s way into his personality he said.


“I was homeschooled right through until high school." Simon told me. It was in an effort to minimize the influence of others and maintain certain social behaviours. At the age of eight, the family moved from Toronto to Orangeville, Ontario, about an hours drive northwest of Toronto.

“Orangeville is known mostly for a Tim Horton’s (coffee and doughnut shop) that everyone stops at, on their way to cottage country,” he said, smiling.

“There wasn’t any big transition for me involved in that move. I had a few friends that I said goodbye to, but being homeschooled made it easier. I didn’t have a large social network,” said Simon. 


When he was old enough for high-school, the homeschooling ended, and Simon went to a local high-school.

“That transition was difficult. I didn’t have much of a social filter, so I didn’t know what I could and couldn’t say. I didn’t know the current lingo the other kids used either. It was like I was fascinating for most of the other kids because they hadn’t met anyone with my background before,” he said.

“It took a while to settle in. I’m still friends with a few of those that I met when I first joined the school. I respected them because they were able to take time to get to know me, and not what the others thought I represented.” 


Simon played football in his third year of high-school.

“I broke my leg in the first game of the season, and wasn’t able to play again until the last game of the season. I realized though, that if I kept showing up for practises and games, I was able to skip classes. I was given the title of Equipment Manager, and got an award at the end of the season for ‘most dedicated to the team.’ I didn’t really get to know many on the team because I couldn't play, but I stuck around all season.”


When he graduated from high-school, Simon flew to British Columbia (BC) to attend university.

“I was seventeen years old. My parents had a specific school they wanted me to attend. I went to Trinity Western University. (TWU is a private Christian liberal arts university.) I applied what I had learned from those first weeks in high-school about being social and making new friends. It went much smoother,” Simon told me. I asked if he was a religious person.

“My parents definitely are religious. I was raised in a conservative Christian home. I believe in God, and Jesus Christ. I also believe in being good to others, and treating people well. But I’m not protesting outside abortion clinics,” he told me. Simon enjoyed being in BC by himself, living on campus.

“I studied for a general in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. I was in university for four years.”


After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Science, Simon went to medical school for another four years.

“It’s a general program for the first two years. You don’t have to declare your intended profession in medical school. In the third year you start to take elective subjects as well. I studied to become a Family Physician,” he said.

“After medical school there’s a two year residency internship. It was split between different hospitals and doctor’s practises. I worked in a lot of rural locations. It was a great way to see the province, that’s for sure,” he said, happily.

“I worked in Salmo, near Nelson and Port McNeill on the northern end of Vancouver Island. I spent time in the Northwest Territories as well. Apparently I was there at the perfect time. It was September so it wasn't too cold, but it wasn't warm enough for bugs! And I got to see the Northern Lights (also known as Aurora Borealis) every night,” he told me.

“It’s certainly a great way to learn about the community and hear the local gossip, working in smaller communities.”


Simon has been a Family Physician for four years now.

“I’m a locum, so I fill in for other Doctor’s when they are away. I’m always travelling to different towns and locations. My wife is a student, she’s training to become a nurse practitioner. So once she’s finished school, where we end up settling down, depends on where her work takes us,” he said. Simon and his wife got married three days after he completed medical school. They have a two year old son.


I thanked Simon for sharing his story, and shook his hand. I asked if I could take his picture. I always ask at the beginning of the conversation, and it’s become a habit to ask again at the end of the conversation. Simon said yes, and thanked me for the chat.

“This was really interesting,” he said. “And good practise for me as well.” I asked what he was practising for.

“I’m heading to a nearby high school in about twenty minutes. I'm going to speak with a group of a hundred-and-fifty students, regarding career choices. This has been a good warm up.” #notastranger