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Traveling is part of my life. Over the last twenty years I have made many 'road trips' through B.C., from Victoria across to Golden and from Prince George down to Penticton. The trips, contrary to public opinion, are long hours of constant work - but the sheer pleasure of meeting so many new people and new situations is undeniably enjoyable. Hotel rooms are always a part of the traveling experience that seem to result in 'stories' - either humorous or horrific!

My recent stay in Victoria was no different. The hotel I stayed in was a highly reputable one whose clients enjoyed beds so resilient that a Sherman tank could share the other side of your bed without causing so much as a wrinkle down the center of the bed. What commanded the attention of this guest however, was the total absence of any sound insulation between rooms. This particular night began with a four year old 'going for power' with a seemingly unending screaming binge. I left the room and went for a walk as, being an experienced parent, I knew that at some point the child would run out of oxygen and calm down.

When I returned, I went about strategically placing as many pillows as possible around the bed to fool the body into thinking that the granite mattress it was sleeping on actually had some soft spots. After settling down in the one comfortable position, I opened my book and prepared for a quiet night (this may be a shock to some, but having 'wild, crazy nights' while traveling does not make you an entertaining speaker the next morning!).

That is when the noise in the other room beside me started. Lets just describe it as what must have been a happy reunion of a newly wed couple, obviously having been separated from each other for at least several hours. Which is about how long the noise seemed to continue on. The thought crossed my mind that this was like ordering a blue movie and finding that only the audio worked on your TV set. When the noise finally abated, I was sorely tempted to go up to the wall, bang on it and shout, "Was it good for you too???" - but there was no way I was going to move from the my one comfortable position on my bed of stone! In another trip to Victoria, I dropped into a local 'watering hole' where I met a man called 'Donny'. I sat down in a chair beside him that was strangely left vacant (as the rest of the room was quite full). I soon noticed that my 'seat-mate' was not quite what you and I would call 'normal'. He wore a large loose T-shirt, blue wrinkled knee length shorts and black dress socks sprouting out of a pair of well used sneakers. But it was not his fashion sense that was putting people 'off' - it was the fact that he was visibly enjoying the entire experience - especially the music.

His hands would fly through the air, narrowly missing beer mugs, playing imaginary keyboards or beating out rhythms on nonexistent drums, all the while swaying his body and jerking his shoulders in time to the music. People avoided looking at him, let alone taking the chance of sitting beside him! Nevertheless, I found him to be refreshing - once you got past his unusual aspects. I feel that people are sometimes just too afraid to 'let go' in public and here was a man who was genuinely, publicly, enjoying himself! Later I asked the waiter about him and discovered that he was a longtime customer. Apparently 'Donny' used to be a truck driver. Before that he had actually qualified to try out for the B.C. Lions. Then one day, while his truck was being loaded, one of the loading cables snapped and struck him on the side of the head (i.e. just one more of the numerous 'it could never happen to me' disabilities that people swear will never occur). The injury dramatically affected his mind.

He became a simple soul whose main problem was a tendency to give away the money he had been awarded in the liability suit he had won many years ago. His sister had to set up a trust to control his monies and to prevent him from giving away his entire future income. And still the money probably won't last another 17 years to make it to age 65. At this point I could launch into a diatribe about why it is so important to talk about 'Living Benefits', about how it is equally important to preserve the estate before death as well as after.

But instead I want you to consider these two stories together. In one we have a young couple starting out their life in the warm glow of unconditional love and in the other a permanently hurt, big hearted man - already in the twilight of his life at age 48. Both have uncertain futures - but the young couple still have a chance to offset against one of those 'it could never happen to me' accidents or sicknesses. For Donny it is too late. As an answer to the stated question, "Was it good for you too?" for the young couple - they still have yet to discover that. For Donny, who may no longer be able to fully understand what will happen to him in the near future, the answer is a definite "No". It is sad that he did not have the opportunity to talk to someone in my business before his accident. I wonder if anyone has talked to the young couple. The last I saw of Donny was him gallantly kissing the proffered hand of the food waitress as he left the bar. Despite his differences, the guy had heart. I never saw - or heard - the young couple again.

Stay safe. Doug McChesney BA, RHU

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