I am a firm believer everything happens for a reason.
A first time visit to Calgary wouldn’t have been complete without a get-together with Jean, who headed out West years ago. My friend planned a whole agenda of touristy things to experience, including the Calgary Tower. As we ascended the high speed elevator, signs appeared stating we were higher than a giraffe, a whale measuring end to end, and then higher than the pyramids! After just 62 seconds, the elevator door opened to a panoramic view of the city, the Rocky Mountains, foothills and prairies too.
But, what beckoned me was the glass floor jutting out 4’ from the wall. I get vertigo easily but hey, how many times would I be here? I had to do it. I stepped out on the ledge…and looked down at the traffic on 9th Avenue SW and Central St. N. And at the itty-bitty cars and people way, way down below!! A definitely thrilling experience. Jean chose the safety of the ledge of the glass floor, saying she didn’t want anyone to look up her dress! I nodded knowingly.
After seeing more of Calgary and an early fantastic dinner at The Cactus Club, Jean insisted on walking me back to my hotel. I was pretty sure I knew my way back but didn’t correct Jean when I thought she overshot by two blocks. As we ventured down an unfamiliar street, I saw a sign on a building:” We see the Humanity behind Homelessness. The DropIn.ca” Jean told me the huge building was a renowned homeless shelter. I was intrigued because I volunteer at a shelter back home. Jean said, “ See? You were meant to pass this way!” She mentioned homeless people congregate around the Drop In and people tended to avoid that area.
As soon as I reached the hotel, I phoned my sister, Lisa, to tell her I found a homeless shelter nearby. Now, Lisa knows me well. She said,” You want to go there, don’t you? We’ll go together when I get back to the hotel.”
As I’d eaten an early supper, I ventured out to a convenience store for a snack for later that night. I passed a rough looking homeless man standing in traffic asking for money. I skipped cutting through a park to get to the store when I saw several homeless men sleeping there on the ground. I was alone and I admit it, I felt uneasy. I made my purchase- some fruit and Wasabi coconut chips!- and pocketed several toonies and loonies in my pocket in case I was approached by one of the homeless men.
As I crossed the street, the same homeless man who was in traffic earlier crossed towards me. I was prepared to give him money if asked. Instead, he gave me a missing-tooth smile and we both said hello. And, he kept on walking. I find homeless people are usually friendly towards me. I must make them feel at ease somehow.
I returned to my hotel room and waited to hear from Lisa. I figured the shelter would be finished serving dinner- it was approaching 8 pm- and was unsure what on earth I was going to say to the people running the place. But, I knew, I just knew I had to step out on that ledge- and go and check it out!