Whoever thought of reading as a luxury, right? It’s available to everyone, it’s fee, it can be learned at any age…. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll start from the beginning. Today was a big spring cleaning day. The last time it was this clean around here was… the last time my cleaning lady was here with her son. She’s been bringing him here since her back injury and apparently he enjoyed cleaning up my place so much last time (we’re talking about a 15 year old boy here!) that he was the one who suggested she call me up to see if I needed their help again. As if that wasn’t luxury enough, I had someone come in and clean all my windows today too. This guy comes around a couple of times a year—in winter he offers to shovel and break up the ice—but this was the first time in the 9 years I’ve been living here that he offered to clean the windows (which means some of my windows hadn’t been cleaned in 9 years, yes. Gross, I know). I thought he’d bring along a ladder but next thing I knew he was dangling outside the window, no ropes, no security system whatsoever and just the assurance that “no worries, I’ve been doing this for 30 years!”.
It’s funny how we often jump to conclusions and assume things about people. The last couple of times he came by, I thought he might be a bit of a swindler. But today I started chatting with him, just asked him for his name really and next thing you know he was telling me he’s handicapped due to a bad head injury he had as as a boy which left him mentally deficient, one of the main results being he’s never been able to learn how to read and write or retain numbers. That’s when I realized he’s not a swindler at all, he just quotes numbers without realizing what he’s actually asking for. When he saw the paint cans in my entrance he offered to do the job for me and I should call him, but since he can’t remember his own phone number, he pulled out a piece of paper with his girlfriend’s number on it so I can call her so she can then give me his phone number.
Having hired help over to help with the housework occasionally has always been a small luxury since I can’t technically afford it, and it’s something I never take for granted. Inevitably, it reminds me how much more comfortable my lifestyle is by virtue of being single with no children. And then I start thinking about how privileged we are here in North America compared to developing countries. But I never think about the underprivileged living right here in my neighborhood. A life with almost no money? I can imagine that because we’ve been there. But a life with no books, no email, no street names and addresses, no phone numbers, no internet, no lists, no reading or writing of any kind at all is almost impossible to fathom.
I’ve decided next time I start feeling sorry for myself for reasons xyz, I’ll remind myself to be grateful for having a brain that works well enough to allow me to read. After that it’s all just gravy.