Clearly no one really wants to share deep dramas. So I, the intruder, suggests that maybe just telling about your school, how did you get there, who were your teachers, and so on might start off a conversation. A tiny quiet women speaks. Quite articulately, she tells us that she has absolutely no education. She grew up in northern Alberta in a family of boys. Her mother was ill so she had to stay home to look after her, then when she died she had to look after the house while her brothers (perhaps 5) went to school. At fourteen her father wanted her to enroll and catch up but she didn't want to be with six year olds. Eventually she left home and made her own way. She worked in housekeeping jobs; she said that someone had to show her how to sign her name on her first paycheque. She married, moved to Dawson Creek and then Fort St. John. Her jobs were in cafeterias and then in the preemie section of the hospital. She spoke in wonder about a particular baby who was about as small as her hand. Needless to say we were captivated, leaning toward her to catch every detail of her story. It seemed impolite to ask her whether she did ever learn to read but I am sure it was on everyone's mind. Our society has such a stigma about literacy and the reticence in just asking her was an underlining moment for me.
My time is up so I don't know whether other members of the group started to speak up. The business of short travel is like airdrop - a pop in that can't ever fully satisfy. Perhaps that will be the subject of my next blog.