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Two Stories By Anna Vassilev. And a special tribute to the Vancouver, B.C. 911 crew.


My friend and I got out of his car and walked through an open square towards a shopping center where I was to buy a printer for my computer. Suddenly, raindrops began beating down, people started to quicken their motions in response to the uninvited guest. In this ordinary city maelstrom of rushing steps, messy movements and a throng of shoppers heading in all directions, I caught site of a young man, sitting motionlessly in the rain in one corner of the square. His face was void of the peace one finds in a person immersed in meditation. However, with his eyes closed, an atmosphere of abandon shrouded him just the same.

The image of the young man soon dispersed as we arrived inside the busy shopping center, heading for the computer store. After the process of selecting and purchasing a printer, we walked out of the mall through the open square back to the car. The rain was now coming down earnestly, enveloping the city in it's hum.

From a distance, a scene caught my eye. The almost vacant square was now housed by only one diehard tenant, stationed in the same spot I had seen him earlier, still deep in his meditation. The care-freeness of an experiment of meditating in the rain still could not be detected.

Sensing this young man might be in need but was too dignified, or too embarrassed to beg, I nudged him with a toonie (a Canadian two dollar coin) as we whisked by. To my surprise, he took it and murmured something inaudible. In close range I saw he was dressed in a fairly decent outfit. He seemed a young man from a respectable family. If he was trying to clear his mind from a sour love affair or something emotionally disturbing, he would not have paid attention to a toonie, I figured. But by taking it, he expressed his need for materialistic assistance. The strange behaviour he exhibited indicated to me that he must be in more trouble than he could handle. It was as if he laid himself out in prayers to God, for directions away from the mishap that had transported him to a now helpless state. The public shower to which he subjected himself was, perhaps, a catharsis he spiritually craved at the moment.

Such bohemian behaviour displayed by a clean-cut young man impressed me that he could very well be from out of town. I could imagine him going through a series of insidiously bad turns, ending up losing his money and valuables. Now, friendless, penniless, and full of regrets, he felt defeated. He might also be hungry, yet he was too proud to panhandle, even though nobody might identify him.

Thinking that a toonie was a paltry amount in a shopping center where even a hot soup, which was what I thought he needed at the time, cost more than that. I told my friend to drive by the open square, once we had gotten into the car. Following my speculation, I decided to give the young man the benefit of the doubt and a bit more help, if he was still there, as I excepted he would be. We turned back and, sure enough, he was there. Deep in his spiritual solitude, he still appeared oblivious of the world around him.

Walking towards him I said, "Will you get out of the rain?"

I held out a five dollar bill, and his bemused eyes lit up. He rose, took the money and with a mixture of relief and disbelief on his face, walked towards the mall as if in a daze.

As we drove away I saw in the rear-view mirror the young man turn towards our car, raise both arms over his head and wave non-stop giant thank-you's an indication that my speculation turned out to be positive.

The appreciation for a stranger's help in his need will bloom roses in this young man's heart. And yes, he will spread the fragrance around.


If, instead of a burning zeal for his scientific experiments, Thomas Edison had had superior discipline, the world would not be the same today. For example, if he were in the habit of spiritually summoning the man with a whip to serve him soulful disciplinary drills, he would have become a top notch scientist with a satisfactory job and an enviable income. He would have been able to own a fancy home with a large garden and enjoy a luxurious vacation every year. Thanks to the iron-clad self-discipline, he would have seen himself promoted through rank and file to the top of his company. Eventually he might even have owned a factory or two. He would definitely be the envy of his neighbors.

Yet he would read his newspaper every night, in candle light, with contentment and without the slightest interest or energy to complain about the flicker.

Whereas, in reality, with a genuine love for his art in scientific experiment, Thomas Edison naturally labored over his work with enthusiasm, day in and day out. With love came a tenacious desire and an iron will that sustained him through thousands of experiments until, finally, he brought glory to the world by lighting up the night with his magic invention of a light bulb.

It is love, the selfless love for a dream, that goads the lover to sacrifice, to toil and to suffer with faith, hope and joy until the final success.

The man with a whip can be useful when love is missing in one for the act. In this case, the man with a whip will keep one alert, help one fulfill the task and, as a bonus, bestow upon him a jolly-sweet dose of mediocrity.


It was a summer evening in my Vancouver home. As I was having my dinner, my heart began to ache. So much so that I stopped eating, and decided to go to bed for a rest. While resting with improvement on the pain, the phone rang. Answering the phone, suddenly became very testy. My heart became very painful. With multiple sclerosis and with my age over 50, this kind of heart ache could scare a caller who happened to be my 85 year old mother. So upon her suggestion, I gave 911 a call. Within 5 minutes, two firemen came to my basement suite. Since I crouched in a chair in pain, a fireman knelt down, like a daughter, to ask me question. Where's the pain? How long was the pain? What was I doing when it started? On a scale from one to ten, how would I rate my pain? Halfway during the process of questioning, and doing some tests with me, three ambulance men came in. They soon took over the session and decided that it was not a heart attack. But they wanted me to go to the hospital with them for a checkup. Due to my pain, I had difficulty walking. So one man went to my bedroom to get my purse out. One man went to the dining room to check the medicine I was taking. On our way out to the ambulance, in full view of the curious and alerted neighbors, one man advised me to leave some light on in case I back late at night. Even mindless due to pain I felt so well looked after by these wonderful ambulance men. They are definitely first class! So thoughtful and so helpful. So daughter-like and so beautiful! I can only pray for them now to show my sincere appreciation for their humanity and kindness. They must be from god! What beauty! In the emergency of Vancouver General Hospital, it turned out to be a chaotic night. For it took a long time for me waiting in the entrance, to get in a hospital bed. Even the workers themselves complained about the chaos. Once gotten in, I was examined and worked on very efficiently. So within 3 hours, they finished all checkups with me and gave me a clean bill to exit the hospital. A doctor confirmed that it was not my heart, but the muscles around the heart that was aching. The doctor suggested the possible causes and a painkiller before letting me go. I thus left the hospital within the night, with great impression, sincere gratitude, and often prayers for all 911 workers who are much more than the dearest family members to all needy patients. I believe and hope that 911 all over the world will give the same service as in Vancouver.

Anna Vassilev

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