By Pam Dillon
Ottawa? A small world? Don’t I know it. So does Lucie Filteau. In a sprawling city of over 900,000, I keep veering into this local mom in the most diverting places.
At the scene of a car … er … clash? Check.
In the privacy of her own home? Yup.
In an operating room at the Ottawa Hospital. Uh huh.
Good thing Lucie doesn’t hold a grudge. Our first collision was about four sleeps before Christmas in 2012. After a business function in Stittsville, I stopped at a dollar store in Kanata to pick up gift boxes. In the checkout line, another lady and I chatted and laughed and tried on all the outlandish-looking reading glasses. It was unexpected fun, so I was still smiling when I pulled out of a space in the dark parking lot. A little kid in the back seat of the car beside mine had a surprised look on his face, I noticed, but I didn’t think anything of it until a woman materialized at my driver’s-side window.
It was Lucie. I had just damaged her car—Gah!—and she didn’t kick up a fuss or unleash a single swear word. Even though it was past suppertime, she had kids in the car, it was the height of the holiday season and some incompetent driver had just unwittingly scraped the right side of her vehicle, this momma kept her cool.
Minutes later I was on the way home, having given a stranger the necessary information to make reparation. That was it, or so I thought. Instead, she got home and at the end of a long day, she cracked open a magazine and recognized my face on the editor’s page. What are the odds?
Truly, when she emailed to tell me of the coincidence I could have been more gracious. After years of working in comfortable anonymity as a writer, that page was my first with a personal photo. And I hadn’t been counting on public recognition as Scratch, the Parking-Lot Hazard.
Still, her car got fixed and mine stayed clear of others, so I thought our paths would never cross again. But just the other day I was wheeling down the hall at the Ottawa Hospital and there she was, in scrubs. This time, Dr. Lucie Filteau was the anesthesiologist delivering the knockout hit and I was the patient on a stretcher with someone else steering.
That’s why I gave her a hug in the operating room (prior to the part of this get-together that involved an oxygen mask and a drug-induced state of unconsciousness).
Hugs are good. Courtesy too. So I want to publicly thank Dr. Filteau and her colleagues for their kindness, expertise and collective sense of humour. (In this instance, Lucie, I’m glad we were in the same place at the same time.)
As I’ve learned, kindness and courtesy always matter—especially since you never know who you’re going to run into in Ottawa.