Line Ups

Rachel Giese concludes her "The New Normal: The Mainstreaming of Mental Health" which appeared in The Walrus with an anecdote which not only humanizes the content but also offers us an object lesson. Her little story is about the service in the cafe staffed by clients of CAMH, service she received and service she witnessed being given.

The woman who served me was painstaking in her attention, reading me all the ingredients in every tea on offer. It took several minutes, but no one waiting behind me complained. After I got my drink, a man entered the café in a wheelchair, cutting to the front of the line. It was a cold day, but he was barefoot, and his clothes and beard were dirty. He was agitated and muttering loudly. There was a brief, slightly nervous pause in the noisy room. Then the woman who had just served me took control. She tended to him with the same level of care, interpreting his mumbled order, fishing into his pocket for his money and slowly counting it, then carrying his coffee to the table he pointed to outside. Everyone waited as she served him. Coffee in hand, he settled down to drink it. She returned to the cash register and took the next order. It was nothing more than a small moment of kindness and grace. But in this gentrified corner of the busy, changing city, it was its own kind of revolution.

And so for day 929