Very Canadian…

Yesterday, I observed what may have been the quintessential event, which has made my Olympic experience complete.  It had nothing to do with sports.  I was not running a Torch.  I didn’t meet any Gold Medal Winning athlete.  I wasn’t involved, at all.

It was a purely moment of sheer joy, and kindness, that might have happened in a lot of places… But it happened in Canada. I was Downtown, trying to absorb as much Olympic Spirit as I can, walking the streets, drinking in the odd melange of hustle and bustle, and awe-struck wonder… As our City gets about the business of hosting an Olympic Winter Games, and the rest of us stand and gawk — ooh and aah at the displays and venues that have sprung up to revitalize and focus our City.

There have been, as there always are, problems and glitches at these Games, and some have gained some profile. From the lack of affordable housing for residents of the Downtown East Side, to the much-maligned, malfunctioning Zamboni, these issues have been covered and drawn attention to, by folks who are better informed, and better writers than I.  On this day, I wanted to see, with my own eyes, the Olympic Cauldron, and see for myself, the offensive fence, with its off-putting mesh, and see for myself, what the reality of the situation was, without spin or agenda.

From what I had been told, the Cauldron is a LONG ways away. Because of the adjacent International Broadcast Centre, there is an understandable concern for security… But at the same time, the Olympic Flame being visible only through the two inch gaps in a chain link fence, makes it tangible evidence, in a thousand photographs of parents trying to juggle kids in front of a fence, with some glimpse of flame in the distance, that these Olympics are VERY security conscious.

A not very family-friendly photo-opportunity, for a city that is supposed to be friendly, and welcoming.

I went down there, just after lunch-time, and saw that the fence was pretty far away from the Cauldron, and that families were, in fact, having difficulty getting a photo in front of the small gate of open fence that afforded the view. ***

I penguin shuffled, in turn, to the front… stuck my camera lens through the fence, zoomed in, as much as I could, and clicked away. As I walked away, my eye was caught by a different line, off to one side. A young man, standing about four feet off the ground, holding onto a metal stand with one hand, with one foot on a concrete post, and the other foot dangling in mid air. He was, in turn, reaching down, and taking the cameras that people were handing up to him.  He would take photos for them, over the top of the eight foot fence, and hand the camera back, before taking the photos for the next person.

He did this for several different “groups” of tourists… and then jumped down, and, without another word to any of them, went on his way.

I think in the past while, all of us Vancouverites have tried to make an effort to help folks.

Whether with directions, taking a photo, or offering tourist suggestions… we are, by and large, I believe, trying to be a good Host City.

The guy climbing the fence, was, literally AND figuratively, head and shoulders above the crowd… and he disappeared before I could get a name or a picture…  but I know the folks who you helped will be telling their friends back home… and I’m telling my readers…

You might be the most Canadian of us all !

Cheers !!!

*** Since I was there on Tuesday, VanOC has apparently made some changes, and is reportedly working on more.  Regardless, the fence-guy rocks !!!