The Adventures of Rob and Dorrit (the Toyota Echo): Healthy Joe

Perspective is a funny thing. I have spent the last 11 years travelling around Vancouver via the Skytrain and bus. Consequently, I learnt to navigate the city by finding the nearest train station or bus stop. I quickly realized when let loose behind Dorrit’s wheel, I had no idea where I was, let alone where I was going. It is a terrifying feeling and just like a virgin in the dark, I was struggling. As any modern human would do, I was forced to turn to the Internet, specifically Google Maps. Placing my faith in the disembodied voice of the Google Maps lady was something I have never had to deal with while driving in Ireland. Indeed, to my embarrassment, I had often stated that if someone can’t find their way on the roads they should not be driving! The irony eh?

I needed a phone cradle so I could see the map route as well as listening to the audio instructions and this is where Healthy Joe comes into this story. I added the ‘Healthy’ part as he was a relatively new friend I met at the gym. I would like to claim that exercise was my salvation during 2021 but truthfully, I am an aging vain pig and want to keep my body in shape. Anyway, I met Joe while I was crunching away on my six-pack and he was on the exercise bike. He initiated the conversation and I recognized his Irish accent immediately. Like all Irish abroad, I asked him where he was from. He is a Galway lad and we began sharing our stories and fitness routines. Joe is both younger and fitter than I, but it was nice to chat to someone from home. He had driven in Vancouver for a few years and had a car, so I was eager to pick his brain about the little things like managing junctions and the turning right at a red light. We talked for about thirty minutes before realizing that the gym was closing. Joe took my number and said we should go out driving together sometime.

As I have gotten older I have become a lot more cynical about people. Here in Vancouver there is nothing worse than being called a flake. That is someone who never follows through on their word or cancels plans at the last minute. I suppose the closest comparison would be someone taking the piss back home. But, true to his word, Joe texted me a few hours later and we arranged to go out for a drive and pick up a hands-free kit for Dorrit that Sunday morning. Again, true to his word, Joe arrived at my place for 9am just as we had planned. I was able to offer him a cup of tea made with my stash of Irish tea bags. Joe had mentioned that he sells health food products and he told me he was going to bring me a few samples. I was slightly taken aback when he handed me a large bag with various products inside, all wrapped and impeccably presented. As the seasoned driver, he suggested we go to Best Buy on Marine Drive as it was a straight run and off we went. He took the role of navigator and in typical Irish fashion told me to turn right and drive straight on for ages. That made me smile. What did ages even mean? Regardless, I trusted him more than Google and the twenty-minute drive was fun. I was pleasantly surprised at how at ease I felt with someone in the passenger seat. Up until this point, I had been driving solo. We arrived at our destination and I bought my hands-free kit. I was now ready to explore the city. I dropped Joe home and thanked him.

Arriving home and cup of tea in hand, I began to reflect on the morning and Joe himself. He impressed me as he was a man of his word. I have not only become more cynical but rather more hardened and distrustful of people. Having assumed that I have to do everything myself, I do not like to ask for help. Struggling and suffering is easier than appearing weak. It was Joe who began talking to me at the gym and the question in my head was asking what does he want from me? Turns out he wanted nothing. In fact, it was the opposite. He was helping me by offering to come for a drive. Additionally, he was driven by a passion to find is place in the world by helping others. By selling health foods and associated products he is doing something he believes in. I dug into his sample bag and again noted the presentation and care that had been taken. The sleep gummies were the first thing to catch my eye and I began using them. Unlike melatonin, which I have taken and been left feeling groggy, these gummies were keeping me asleep for the whole night. I have since become a customer and refer to Joe as my gummy dealer. Most of all though, my new friendship with Joe has left me feeling inspired. I see so much of who I used to be in him. I was eager and passionate when I came to Vancouver at the age of 31, his current age. I remember the excitement and joy I got from going into acting school every day and living in a foreign city. I was independent and free for the first time in my life and that allowed me to come out and explore my sexuality as well. I remember feeling truly alive when I was that age. Now at 44, I feel I have lost that lightness and optimism. In the past, I would have probably resented Joe and walked away, but what has surprised me the most is how inspired I am by him now. Driving a car again has awakened something similar in me and I am creating 2022 as the year of little steps back to a softer and kinder version of myself. One that can be present, patient and give back to others in an authentic way.

As a way to give back to Joe, I wanted to share a link to his page below. I can highly recommend the man and the products, especially the sleep gummies.

To everyone reading this blog, Happy New Year and may 2022 be a great year for all of us.


Next Month: Express pick-up at IKEA.