personal reflections on human rights...and other stuff

A day in the life

I end my day watching the 11 o’clock news, and I know I shouldn’t. I don’t need to hear news of two teenage boys in British Columbia who kidnapped, raped, tortured, killed and burned an 18 year-old girl just to see what it was like. After the body had been stuffed in a freezer, they put it in a bag and took a city bus to a location where they set the body on fire. The second story was of a child pornography online ring that had been busted. The youngest victim was a baby. Third story was a hockey coach who sexually molested the players. Things were a lot more upbeat a couple of weeks ago when the Chilean miners surfaced.

This morning I planned on writing something about the conversations I hear around me on my way to work. They’re the kind of stories that I’m quite sure will never make the evening news. I take the car to the train station every morning, board the train (sometimes get a seat) and either rest, read, or listen to music for the half hour ride. I sometimes have to wait on the platform for the train to arrive, like this morning, where I stood next to the same black-haired woman who likes to sit on the left side of the eight car, two seats from the door. On her left were two men in their forties who look like brothers and talk about their summer homes in the summer, skiing in the winter, and some economic stuff that is well beyond me the rest of the time. Both are fashion losers, the balder one being exceptionally challenged. Why wear white running shoes with a burgundy shirt and a red tie? He cannot pull that off. He also takes a shower every morning and uses Zest soap, and I wish he’d go for something unscented.

I have a tendency (but not a habit) of sitting on the right side of the train, hopeful for a sunny morning when I can bask in the sun’s rays. There’s a young woman frail as a bird who occasionally sits in front of me. Today it was an older woman, distraught and agitated as the train took off, flipping her phone every minute and hesitating to place a call. Finally she called her boyfriend to tell him she’d been singled out by a police officer who was handing out tickets for jaywalking. She’d been with a group of people crossing the street at the wrong time, she told her boyfriend, but the cop gave her the ticket. Thirty-seven dollars. She asked the cop, do you speak English? He nodded. She then said to him, Get a life. Not a good idea, madam. No.

I spent the rest of the day trying to save the world. All right that’s not quite right. For part of the day I analyzed data from some of our participants’ responses related to their knowledge and skills pertaining to human rights. We have an evaluation meeting coming up in Sri Lanka and it’ll be an opportunity for the human rights educators present to reflect on their practice, so I’m looking at some of the things they’ve written over the years. So I’m getting ready for that, among other things. “Analyzing data” just doesn’t sound nearly as exciting as going off to exotic places to educate people about their human rights. Sometimes we have slow days.

On those days life still gets in the way, or more aptly work gets in the way of life. A call from my wife at four this afternoon updated me on Boy 1 and Boy 2’s school day. One says he has no friends, another is being teased by a classmate. I’ve joked with friends that my day starts when I get home from work, and I’m sure that’s the case with many parents. Upon entering my house, I get my standard hugs from everyone and both boys pull out their recorders and start showing off how musically inclined they are. And since when do kids have so much homework? I never had that much as a child and I’m still mostly smart.

The news just ended, and gone are the rapists, child molesters, and murderers. The last story was of James Bond’s Aston Martin on the auction block, selling for over four million dollars. At least I can go to sleep now.



2 comments :

Jennifer said...

I loved reading about a day in your life.

I'm something of a news junkie but I can't listen/watch before bed. It's like bad Feng Shui or something.

Paul McAdams said...

After that last newscast, I'm starting to agree with you. I may end the day with what my kids watch - although I'm nearing my saturation point with Wizards of Waverly Place.