Expect the Unexpected

It’s definitely summer time because we couldn’t get our usual table and ended up sitting inside on two high-top chairs. Camp grumbled about the tourists crowding his space even though he lived off them with his bookstore. “A lot more tourists than last year. It’s partly because of the fires raging in the interior which are redirecting a lot of holiday makers to the coast and the island,” Campbell, or Camp as the world knows him, said.

Camp was right. Over 140 fires are burning up the province and have displaced 40,000 people, most of whom are anxiously waiting to return home in make shift camps in Kamloops and Prince George.

“Business must be pretty good these days. I watched the traffic from across the street this afternoon,” I said and Camp gave me a shifty look.

“You could have come in and said hi.”
“We didn’t want to disrupt the flow and we also didn’t want to drip ice cream all over the store.”

“Well, most of the traffic was for the bathroom. At the next counsel meeting I will bring up this issue of more public washrooms or better signage pointing them to those at the end of Winegarden Park. I don’t have the heart to say no to a person in need, but it is a nuisance nevertheless. I also expected the store to do better but we’re in direct competition with the ferry, which uses ferry workers to sell books. It’s not fair competition.”

“That’s just it Camp. We expect things to happen and if they don’t we’re disappointed. Best not to expect anything and then maybe we get surprised,” I said.

“You have a point,” Camp nodded, “I have a poster in my store proclaiming just that. It’s actually the three sources of all upsets. A good friend pointed those out to me many moons ago and I decided to write them down and have them displayed at eye level so I can remind myself of them.”

“Oh yeah, what are those words of wisdom?” I asked.

“The first one is undelivered communication. It’s the most common source of upsets. People always assume but forget to tell each other what it is they assume or they get misunderstood or taken out of context. Or they think they told each other but actually haven’t. I see it all the time, even at council meetings. That’s why we have minutes so one can actually look it up if so-and-so said this-and-that or not. “

“Ok, I get it. Undelivered communications. What’s the second reason for peoples upsets?”

“Thwarted intentions. It’s when we wish to take action and for some reason cannot do so, usually due to a lack of skills or knowledge, or money or time. Like I wanted to go a sunny place last winter but had neither the money, nor the time. So I was pissed off, mostly at myself of course.”

“And the third one. Let me guess. Unfulfilled dreams.”

“Close, it’s unfulfilled expectations. Like my expectations at the store never match reality. Sometimes of course the outcome exceeds the expectations as in this new local beer. The Irish stout is actually better than I expected. There you have it. All our upsets and disappointments fit into one or two of these three sources. Unfailingly.”

“I’ll ask Clare and if she agrees than I’ll better make a copy of your poster and hang it in the bathroom. That way I get to see it everyday.”

“How is Muriel by the way,” I changed the subject.

“I expect she is well,” Camp answered. “Her daughter is arriving next week and Muriel wants me to meet her. Apparently she is an aspiring writer and loves book stores.”

“Well, that’s perfect isn’t it. You two seem to get along just fine.”

“We’re friends. Nothing more. Friends and colleagues.”

“Sure,” I said. “Talk about friends. We’ve been to two weddings in the past six weeks, both of them unions between couples who have lived together for 15 years. In one case it was the 12 year old girl who suggested to their parents to get married. Both occasions were gatherings of the tribes. Nothing like a good wedding to bring people together, including ex-husbands, new girl or boyfriends, as well as wedding crashers who drive around looking for a free party.”

“I don’t really believe in the institution of marriage. Most of them end in divorce and acrimony,” Camp, always the positive thinker, said. “You’re looking at a case in point,” he added.

“Why did you and Maureen get married, was it an expression of pure love or for tax reasons.”

“Neither,” said Camp, I lost a bet. Maureen challenged my love, which was basically pure lust and taunted me with visions of eternal ecstasy. Remember, I was a convinced bachelor, in my fifties when I met Maureen who was in her thirties. The Germans have a good word that describes the state I was in. ‘Torschlusspanik’, meaning panic of the door closing. We got married; the ecstasy never matched the expected fantasy and then reality set in. I missed my freedom, Maureen wanted me to be somebody else and that was the beginning of the end.”

“But you stayed together for a dozen years,” I said, shaking my head.

“Yes, we co-habited. She upstairs, me downstairs. If we wouldn’t have been married we would have probably drifted apart after a few months. Such are the ties that bind. Goldie Hawn credits the fact that she never married Curt Russell for the longevity of their love affair,” Camp added.

“I guess your expectations were unfulfilled, your intentions thwarted and you sure as hell didn’t communicate very well.”

“Live and learn,” Camp said. “I wish we could still be friends but the lawyers ruined that.”

“Here is to friendship,” I said. We drank to that.

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