Not Today’s Perfect Moment

What I am about to write is not Today’s Perfect Moment. It was definitely a moment, but beyond that I am a little unsure.

I accompanied one of my co-workers to the subway. We have been on a hello, how was your weekend basis for a while now and I had no fear that a walk to the subway would a trek of uncomfortable silence.  Usually when ESL teachers walk to the subway, they are either blowing off steam at the students or at the company (or both).  Neither of these holds a lot of excitement for me, but neither requires much of effort to listen to–a few head nods, a few I know what you mean glances, maybe even a few what are you gonna do shrugs are usually sufficient.

This co-worker is relatively new and probably will come up short when student numbers decline as the weather gets colder. The first year at any ESL school is likely to contain the same drama.  Winter is not a time when the majority of students from warm climates want to experience Canada.

Unbeknownst to me, this person has been having a bad time. Looking for new work to replace the slowly disappearing one has yielded only negative comments about the person’s nationality from some countries that perceive English speakers in only one shade.  Adding to this misery, this person’s current class has managed to wrest power from the teacher and make the lessons seem far longer and far less engaging than they should be.

While relating the above traumatic recent present, this person started crying. While some of that was drowned out by the traffic and hum of construction equipment, much of it was not. I tried to be helpful and supportive, but we don’t have that kind of relationship and I am somewhat ignorant of the cultural aspects I might be breaking if I offer the comfort in the wrong way.  I made jokes and seemingly made all the right sounds that seemed to bring about a bit of relief.

Later in the subway, this person confided more difficult aspects of their personal life and doubts about where it is going. They apologized for the crying, to which I responded that an apology is not necessary and that I wish I could do more.  This person merely shook their head and said something rather profound to me.  “You’re listening.  That’s a big help.”

I found it profound because I get the feeling that many of us need someone to listen to us. We need someone just to hear the words we are saying.  Maybe this is so it doesn’t seem like we are talking to ourselves.  Maybe this is so we can articulate what is bothering us more clearly and more truthfully.  Maybe it is because we just don’t want to feel alone.

As I stated above. This is not Today’s Perfect Moment.  It is something else.

About Anthony

I am: equal parts rebel, romantic and shockingly average Joe. a writer trapped inside of an ESL teacher's body. an introverted attention seeker. a teacher who hopes one day to be called "Captain, my Captain." an intellectual who can do some very dumb things. a person whose Japan experience, despite being so long ago, still exerts a strong influence upon him. a lover of books, music, beer, hockey and Pizza.
This entry was posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, co-workers, commuting, ESL, hard work, listening, students, subway, teaching, TTC, work and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Not Today’s Perfect Moment

  1. blossomkitty says:

    Agreed…. sometimes you just need to be heard 😊

  2. Good that you were there to listen. I think. You’ve touched in a universal problem. Spouse, family and friends, if one is lucky enough to have any around whom one can rely on, tend to impose their advice or their own problems. Coworkers, if you’re lucky enough to have them, may not be close enough, like you thought or shouldnt be trusted with personal information they may use against you. Counselors cost money and once a week talking to a stranger probably doesn’t cut it. That leaves relative strangers, the internet, maybe a support group. There’s always writing in one’s journal…

  3. Heide says:

    It may not have been *your* perfect moment, Anthony … but i bet it was for your co-worker who finally had someone to talk to, and who was heard.

  4. Angela says:

    Sometimes just saying whats wrong with you out loud can make you feel a million times better, someone to listen and say its ok is a perfect moment 🙂

  5. Hunida says:

    So sweet of you to be there and listen. It really is all we need sometimes. ♡

  6. Anonymous says:

    Good job Anthony

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