What day is it?

I sent my brother to the store for me this morning.

I have a cold. It’s just a cold. I’ve been through it 15,000 times in my life and I know that it’s just a cold. But, knowing how many people are on edge about germs at the moment, I decided the last thing I needed to do was make anyone in a store worry about me.

So I sent my brother to the store.

I asked him to purchase me cough syrup, cough drops and neocitron… all over the counter items that can help someone fight a cough/cold. Did I need them all this morning? No. But, in limiting the amount of times we visit a store, and in thinking that it’d be smarter to have these things at home for fighting this cold, I asked for each of these items.

While he was standing six feet behind the woman who was already paying at the register, two other women in the store berated my brother for what he was purchasing. One of the women went so far as to yell ‘You’re going to kill us all’, at him.

These women were assuming he was sick because of what he was purchasing. In trying to calm them down, he tried to explain ‘I’m purchasing these things for someone that I know. I’m completely healthy and I’m standing away from everyone. Please do not worry’.

The women then decided to berate him for being inconsiderate to the general public by associating with someone who is sick. Then they told him to go home because he’s a carrier and if he keeps on he’s going to make everyone in town sick.

I’ve largely been held up in my bedroom since my cold symptoms started. Why? Because, while it is just a cold, something that goes around each spring… I didn’t feel like spreading germs to anyone in my home given what’s going on in this world.

No one should be shamed for purchasing medication at the pharmacy right now. I know, the world is stressed out. I know that people are on edge about anyone who sneezes or coughs in public. That’s precisely why I sent my healthy brother and I didn’t go to the store myself. People need to remember that it’s both allergy season while still being cold and flu season. Allergy pills, cough syrups, cough drops, neocitron, nasal sprays, these are all things people still need to purchase right now.

I count myself lucky that I could send my brother to purchase those things for me. I was really disheartened when I heard what happened to him at the store. My brother is such a docile person that when two women started yelling at him all he wanted to do was leave. But, he wanted to make sure that he got me what I had asked for so he just had to stay and listen to them. He was so frustrated that he called to tell me what happened on his way back.

I know people are anxious, but berating someone for buying cough syrup is not going to fix anything. Furthermore, berating someone for picking up goods for someone else is not productive. I thought we were supposed to only send one family member to the store. I thought we were supposed to ask neighbours, friends and family and so on… if they needed anything before going to the store so it could all be bought in one trip. What do I know though?

I’ve been laying pretty low… not leaving my room a whole bunch. And I’ll continue to do so until this passes.

Quarantine Day 8,781

Dear Patrice,

The local pharmacist has said that we should each be documenting everything happening to us during this time. As I stood behind the plexi-glass screen watching him prepare my father’s prescription, I listened to him explain about how we’re living through what will one day be one of the most historical events of life as humans know it.

As much as the introvert in me does not like talking to strangers, I know he’s right.

The sheer physical, emotional, economical impacts this will have on this world will last decades. And, if I’m being totally honest, I don’t know how to deal with that yet.

The human race has seemingly become expendable. Those who get television time are the ones who are proclaiming that economies should open back up because senior citizens and those who are immunocompromised would gladly give up their lives for the sake of the American Dream. Companies left, right and centre are firing employees not because they have to, but because they’d rather ‘cut their losses’ and sail off into the sunset. And those that haven’t fired their employees are billionaires who are asking the general public for donations.

We’re living in a time when going to to the store to get some milk for your fridge could literally mean putting your life at risk. And there are adult brats on the internet licking toilet seats proclaiming that this is all a hilarious manifestation of government control. To anyone who’s taking part in the licking toilet seats challenge, that’s not going to age well, even if by some grace of the universe you don’t get sick.

I am hurting and I know I am not alone. Billions of people (yes I said billions) are going through this with me.

And it all started with one wet market in a country a half world away.

If nothing else, this year has officially validated the fact that we are all connected and that when something affects one of us, it affects all of us.

Nearly a million people have been diagnosed with a mystery illness across our world. Nearly 50,000 of those have passed away. And, with everything that is known, or isn’t known, at this stage, there are still (somehow) women and men standing out front of the grocery store trying to hand out pamphlets about how vaccines are the real issue… WHILE, NO LESS… wearing a mask on their face and asking people to not come too close.

Preachers are preaching that we brought this on ourselves and that god is using corona virus to punish us for our sins.

Health care workers, who on a normal day have some of the hardest jobs on earth, have now had to take on the task of convincing us all to take their word as the word whilst fighting a predatory, deadly illness that has been described as an invisible zombie apocalypse.

Years from now, when I look back on this, I want to remember this feeling. I want to remember the things that people said, the things that people did or didn’t do. Though they’re too small to know what’s happening right now, I want to be able to teach my nieces and nephews about this.

Canada is closed.

What used to be a cordial, friendly nation where people held open doors, helped you carry your things, shook your hand just because or gave you a hug if you looked like you needed it, we’re only going out if we need said milk from the store. The aforementioned men and women handing out anti-vaccination pamphlets were arrested for endangering the public, but promptly returned the next day after they were only given a citation and told to stay home. It’s an ugly wheel we’re spinning when the police are trying to protect the very people they’re arresting by not putting them in a holding cell. Court is postponed indefinitely so it’s not like there’s anything else they can do except standing in front of the store themselves, telling these people to leave.

A choir decided to go ahead with their practice, despite all of the warnings to not hold such events at this time. Now, 45 of the 60 choir members have tested positive for COVID-19 and 2 have actually passed away.

Stay home.

Seriously, go home and stay home. I say this because future me wants to remember the importance and significance of these simple instructions.

Where do we go from here? I don’t know. I do know that I’ve developed a fear of watching the news, going to the store and hearing someone cough or sneeze.

My debts are mounting, whilst people are bragging about spending $600 on video game systems… just because. Wow, it’d be nice to have $600 right now. But I’m sure that a lot of people would like to have an extra $600 right now, so as much as I’m inclined too, I’m trying really hard to not judge them for their choice of purchase. They had the money, I guess that’s that.

Finding a job right now is going to be next to impossible.

And yes, I know that I’m saying ‘I’ a lot with respect to something that is about everyone and not just me, it’s just hard. When tragedy strikes, the first thing you should do is ensure that yourself and your close family/friends are okay. Well, I’m not okay. I’m trying to be, but I’m freaking out.

There’s still a lot of snow on the ground here. At least a foot on lawns. Probably several feet in the bush. The roads, since they were plowed last week, have only a couple inches on them. Spring still seems as though it’ll be a long way away and I can honestly say that this has been the longest winter ever.

There are several aisles of the grocery store that are still empty. There is still no toilet paper. There is no pasta, very minimal canned goods, and no frozen foods. We also haven’t had eggs in this town for a very long time. I reckon in the supply chain we rank rather lowly compared to the larger city centres which is probably why. Regardless, I am hoping that one of these days there will be some sort of a restock.

I’ve been anxious, a lot. All the time, actually. It hasn’t shut off since my dad’s surgery. We learned that we lost my uncle so quickly after my dad’s surgery that things in this family really have not calmed down. As much as my parents and I absolutely do not get along, I do not wish for them to be in harms way, or sad, or any form of ill. He’s had a long and slow recovery. His follow up appointments were cancelled as they were deemed not a necessity. So he’s largely been wingin’ it. My mom did take him to the hospital one day to have him checked because he was coughing blood. It was an infection and the prescribed him antibiotics, with refills so that he wouldn’t have to come to back.

My parents… oh my parents. I know everyone reacts to stressful situations in different ways, but their reactions have been to… seemingly not care? I’m sure that in some way, deep down, they are in fact worried. They’re not showing it though.

All that being said, there’s still stuff going on that is scaring me so much that I can’t even bring myself to speak it. No, because if I speak it into fruition, I have to face it.

I’m scared. We’re all scared. There’s a definite sense of urgency in living right now. Everyone is carrying a weight on their shoulders and most are trying to hide it. I have noticed the very polarizing shift in the way society functions.

10 years from now, 20 years from now, 50 years from now… this year, this time in history will be one that’s marked in textbooks and research journals, historical records and televisions/movies across the world.

We’re living in history… right now. This moment hasn’t even passed and it’s already history. How’s that for a thought? Grab hold for dear life. I wonder if that’s how they felt during the World Wars or the Great Depression or the Plague. I wonder if they had time to feel, or if they just bared it and kept going, hoping luck would favour them enough to survive. My grandfather was born shortly after the first world war, and he would never talk to me about the second. The only thing he said was that he wished for a world in which we would never have to experience what he’d been through in his life. So I really don’t have any frame of reference from personal perspective… only what I’ve read in history books. Which, could very well be what people do with respect to this year, this pandemic, this… invisible apocalypse in several decades time.

My biggest hope in all of this is that people favour kindness. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be mindful. It’s affecting everyone so I hope that very fact is remembered. Not that it’ll fix anything right now… but it might lessen the blow.

Oh and lastly, stay the fuck home.

Sincerely,
Me

Life is like a boomerang

What we give, we get.

That’s something that my uncle used to say. In my last post that I spoke about him I mentioned that he was always someone who believed it was better to give than to receive. Since writing that post, with a little encouragement, my family has begun sharing stories about my uncle through an email chain.

These are largely the type of stories you’d talk about and reminisce about at a memorial service, but since that’s been put on hold, the family has decided to share them digitally.

To preface this, I will say that my dad was one of eight kids. There were seven boys and one girl in his family and his father passed away when he was just four years old. As a result, the family grew up without a lot and largely relied on the help of others to to get through… at least until he and his brothers became teenagers and old enough to work. I attribute this way in which they grew up to be a big reason why my uncle was someone who believed in the power of giving.

When I went to the store today to fetch toilet paper I saw that the store, in wake of Covid-19, is selling girl guide cookies for the girl guides so that they dont risk illness by going door to door. When I saw these cookies it brought back a memory of my uncle, one that I know my brothers and I will remember but one that I am not sure the rest of my extended family knows about. I’m contemplating sharing it with them in the email story chain.

STORY TIME:

When I was a young pip squeak I was a part of Girl Guides for a couple of years. Every year we were required to sell cookies as a part of being a Girl Guide. This didn’t sit well with me because I am largely an introvert and have been my entire life. Approaching strangers to sell them something wasn’t my idea of a good time.

Knowing how uncomfortable I was with selling these cookies after seeing me try for just one day, my uncle actually bought $300 worth of cookies from me so that I could meet my quota and didn’t need to sell any more.

My uncle never liked cookies.

I remember asking him what he was going to do with all of the cookies that he had just bought and I distinctly remember him telling me he wasn’t sure.

The next year that I was in Girl Guides my uncle immediately purchased $300 worth of cookies from me. I remember being baffled by this because I had suddenly realized I didn’t even know what he had done with the cookies from last year.

When I asked him what he was going to do with all of these cookies he told me not to worry and that he could find someone who would enjoy them.

By the next year my family had moved cities and I was no longer a part of Girl Guides. The thought of cookies had dropped from my mind and wouldn’t be picked up again until two years later when my brothers and I went to spend a month at my uncle’s house.

I was about ten at this point. I remember walking in and seeing his kitchen table covered in a giant stack of Girl Guide cookies. I’m sure at this point my brothers and I laughed and said something along the lines of “are you trying to bribe us to be good kids? We can absolutely be bribed with cookies!”

Nope. The cookies were not for us. My uncle actually told us that he had been buying big batches of girl guide cookies every single year since that first year I was in girl guides and thus this wasn’t a special occasion he’d bought cookies for having kids around, no. He had a plan for these.

Again, we asked him why he buys cookies when he doesnt like cookies.

He told us that he bought the cookies because he knows that it helps out the girl guides organization and that he always likes to make sure he supports programs for kids, even if it’s just a few extra dollars. To him, girl guide cookies was an easy way to support kids.

So we asked him what hes been doing with these cookies he had been buying all these years.

I distinctly remember him saying “I’ll show you on Saturday!” Saturday was his day off work and his typically only free day of the week.

That Saturday he loaded us all up in his vehicle and brought out a giant container filled with boxes of cookies. He told us we were going to give them to people in need.

I remember thinking that was ridiculous. I think I probably told him that homeless people dont want cookies, they need a real meal. Nevertheless, he persisted that this was a good idea.

We drove to some lesser developed areas of the city where there are more homeless people who live on the streets and I remember him telling us to stay put and hand him a box of cookies.

The homeless individual took the cookies and shook my uncles hand and then tried to give him a hug. My uncle backed off because he hated hugs, but I distinctly remember thinking that it was bizarre of him to be giving cookies to homeless people when what they needed was a real meal. I also thought that no homeless person wanted cookies and that they were likely going to just ask him for money. 10 year old me thought that I was smarter than my uncle and I tried to lecture him when he got back into the vehicle.

Naturally, not having my smartass attitude, he cut me off. What he said was something that has always stuck with me.

“I don’t care who you are or where you’re from, I don’t care what your circumstances are or the hardships you might face in this life, everyone deserves a treat every once in a while. Someone who is homeless is not going to go out of their way to treat themselves, so we are going to treat them for them. It might not be a full meal but food is food and if they need a treat, they’ll appreciate it.”

I remember thinking that was so incredibly kind of him to say and do. But I also remember thinking about money, which my brother ended up asking him.

‘What if they do not want cookies and only want money?” My brother asked.

My uncle pulled out a box of cookies from the bin and showed us the bottom of the box. He had taped a 20 dollar bill to the bottom of each box of cookies.

“Anyone who is in dire straits and need of food will never turn down an offer of food, even if it’s a box of cookies or even a tin of tuna.” He said. “If they don’t want cookies then they don’t need our money. And if they take the cookies and treat themselves, then I hope they take this (pointing to the 20 dollar bill he taped to the bottom of the box) and get themselves a meal, or more, depending on where they go.”

The rest of that day we spent just wandering around in his car, finding homeless people to offer girl guide cookies to.

It was truly one of those life changing days in a person’s life. It sticks out from my childhood memories so vividly in my mind. He had taped $20 to the bottom of probably 70 boxes of cookies and was giving them out to homeless people who would accept them. And he’d been doing it for years without telling any of us before now.

I’m pretty sure he kept on doing it right up until this year, too.

When my siblings and I got a little older he’d let us come with him and actually get out of the car to offer them to people. Only when he thought we were safe to do so. I remember helping him four or five times over the years. My brothers stopped by and helped him a few times over the years as well. It was his “thing”. Sometimes he’d go back to the same neighborhoods two years in a row and the same people would be there. I remember once, when I was probably 18, one homeless man screaming “the cookie man is back” when he saw my uncle and I walking towards him.

That was just the way my uncle was. He was the kind of guy that you could rely on to be a consistent source of good in this crazy world. He didn’t want attention, he didn’t want notoriety or even hugs. He was just happy with a handshake from a stranger and knowing that he’d done a small bit of good for someone’s day when they likely really needed it.

And he always bought as many girl guide cookies as he could… because, though he never had kids of his own, he never missed out on an opportunity to support kids. (Girl guides was just one organization he supported, he donated to all kinds of soccer teams and band programs and summer camps and basically anywhere he felt that his money would positively impact a kid, even if just in the smallest of ways)

My uncle was a consistent ray of light and kindness and giving. He always believed that giving was better than recieving. I guess I must’ve given something really valuable in a past life because growing up with my uncle around and having him as a part of our lives… it was a pretty big gift. Or, if life really is like a boomerang and what we give we get, then I have already had so I should start giving a heck of a mot more. Cheesy? Yeah, but it is true.

I’m reminiscing tonight. Should probably rewrite this a little if I decide to share with my extended family through email. Just so they dont think he took us into dangerous situations as kids. They’ve all been a little on edge lately and I think a nice story like this might make them smile.

Who knows!

Emails that brighten my spirits.

As some of you may know, from time to time I will have one-on-one chats with fellow bloggers to try and give them some extra tips and tricks to the trade in hopes that it’ll help them in their blogging journey.

I can’t tell you how good it makes me feel when they send me notes about just how excited they are when they make improvements and good things happen for them!

A couple of weeks back I got an email from a fellow blogger that I have previously worked with and she was expressing her excitement that, for the first time ever, her blog hit 100 views in 24 hours. I was excited to hear her excitement, but I was also excited for her because I know what a talented blogger she is and I also know what an interesting person she is. She has a lot to share with this world and a lot of value to bring, and I know that as people continue to find her blog, they’ll see in her everything that I see in her.

This afternoon I got an email from a fellow blogger that I have previously worked with and he was expressing his excitement that his blog has reached 200 followers and the interaction he’s receiving on his posts is increasing daily. I was elated to hear his excitement, but I was also excited for him because, after so many years of pouring his heart and soul into his written work, his blog and sharing his story, people are really starting to find him and resonate with what he shares and who he is.

It makes me happy to see fellow bloggers finding success and being appreciated for what they do and the content they create. I feel a great sense of pride in myself when people ask me for advice, and I am grateful that people trust me enough seek help from me. But, more importantly, I feel a great sense of pride in seeing these bloggers succeed. Because, the bottom line is, there success is because of them, not me. All I did was remind them of what they’re capable of.

Digital marketing can sometimes seem silly, but I promise you that if you really take the time and effort to pay attention to the small things, it’ll make a world of difference in your blogging journey. If you’re ever feeling disheartened, burnt out, or you’re just plain struggling with your blog, remember this: success is not a limited resource. There’s room for every blogger at the top, so keep focused. Your time will come!

Story time – Anxiety is not a made up construct.

I’ve had anxiety since long before I ever knew what it was. I remember being a teen and pre-teen and suffering from full blown panic attacks for reasons I couldn’t even understand. My brain was convinced there was going to be an earthquake and that I’d die in my sleep. Or I’d be at school and was convinced that there would be a mercury spill in the science lab and we’d become violently ill.

Nothing made sense, but I had these fears and if I ever told anyone about them they’d laugh, or tell me I was being dramatic or tell me to not worry about it.

I have very distinct memories of sitting in a ball in the corner of dark classrooms to wait out my panic attacks while at school. I think the first full-blown panic attack I ever had was in fourth grade. And I continued to have them all throughout elementary and high school. I didn’t know they were panic attacks at the time, but I knew I couldn’t be around people. At home, I would go for hours, days (if allowed) on end without even leaving my room. I was afraid of going for a walk and someone trying to kidnap me. It really didn’t matter where I was, I was always on high alert. I could walk into a room and would scan for exits, memorize faces, know what I could use to protect myself. I was anxious. I was always anxious.

In my mind, something was going to go wrong. Always. I was on high alert and prepared for the next disaster to happen.

Another side effect of my anxiety, that I didn’t realize at the time (probably due to my lack of knowledge about anxiety) was sleep. My parents used to yell and scream and me that I needed to go to sleep. They thought I was purposefully laying awake until 2 or 3 or even 4 in the morning just to be a troublesome child. I didn’t want to lay awake worrying. That’s just what happened. Any time I told anyone what was really happening they’d laugh it off or just tell me to not worry anymore.

Because clearly, the solution was that simple.

There was one point, I do recall, going to the doctor for annual check-ups, my mother told the Doctor that I was not sleeping. The Doctor told my mother that I was either acting out, or that I was consuming too much sugar/caffeine. As a fifth grader, I wasn’t consuming caffeine. So in her mind, the problem was sugar. She didn’t let me have sugar for MONTHS! It was probably close to a year. She’d specifically take my siblings and I out for ice cream and tell me that I wasn’t allowed any treats until I proved to her that I was willing to sleep when it was bed time. As you can imagine, this made fifth grade me extremely angry. She was treating it like it was something I could control. And, when I didn’t have any sugar in my life and I still couldn’t sleep at night, she’d convinced herself that I was sneaking sugar and lying to her about it.

During the few hours a night that I actually did sleep, I was grinding my teeth in my sleep. Every time I went to the dentist he’d tell me I was ruining my teeth. He convinced my parents, on three separate occasions, to get expensive ($500 or more) mouth guards for me to wear when I slept. They never worked. They fell out, or they’d break, or they just caused me to struggle even more so with my sleep. I was asleep and grinding my teeth. I couldn’t control it.

Many a conversation were had in which my parents discussed there frustrations with me not properly wearing my $500 mouth guard so the teeth grinding woke them up. They were both angry that I was ruining my teeth and felt as though they couldn’t wake me up because I slept so little.

All of this… and I mean ALL OF THIS was symptoms of my anxiety. My parents, while good people for the most part, openly acknowledge that they believe anxiety and depression are a made up construct.

I moved away from home. I went to University, got a job, built a life for myself and, for almost a decade, things were really good. I learned what anxiety was, as per my own research, and learned how I could cope with it on my own. I found great friends, and I was managing the anxiety I had, after finally learning what it was. I got into a good sleep rhythm and, the teeth grinding stopped.

Last year, when everything fell apart the anxiety and panic attacks hit me like a ton of bricks. I was experiencing it in ways that I hadn’t since I was a teenager. Knight and I came to see my mom right after her second surgery and I remember her telling me she could hear me grinding my teeth so loudly that it woke her up.

I sought out medication to help me cope with the sheer weight I was carrying in my brain and I cannot tell you what a difference it made in my life. No one in my family knows that I take this medication. My family frowns on medications of any sort. And, since they believe that mental illness is a made up construct, it just didn’t make sense to try and pick a fight with them about it. I wish I could tell them. But, maybe it’s just something for me to teach the next generation about.

I think it’s so important to note that that mental illness is not a made up construct. I also think it’s extremely important to acknowledge that mental illness does discriminate based on age. When I hear people say ‘No she’s too young for that’ or ‘No, he’s way too young to experience that’, there’s a little voice screaming in my brain ‘YOU’RE WRONG, YOU’RE NAIVE, DO BETTER’.

Who knows what would have happened had I known what anxiety was when it started affecting me. I could have found/gotten help and learned how to cope ten years before I actually did.

I think it’s so important to talk about the subject of mental health and well being with kids. I would never look at a kid and think ‘No, they’re too young’. I look at kids and think ‘Perhaps we could help them thrive a lot more as humans if we have these difficult discussions rather than avoiding them’.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone tell me they’ve had anxiety since before they knew what it was, I’d be rich. I’d be a fucking millionaire.

My only hope is that the present generation of kids, the kids of Millennials and Gen Xers, are being taught about this because their parents can speak from experience.

The doctor was convinced that I was consuming too much sugar. The dentist was convinced that I needed a $500 plastic mold to stop me from moving my teeth in my sleep. A teacher who saw me having a panic attack in his classroom just told me that I needed to ‘man up’. My parents were convinced I was just trying to be a troublesome child.

And all I really needed was someone to teach me what anxiety was.

The Story of Jack

This is Jack, the aforementioned rottweiler who I am babysitting for the weekend. Some of his favourite past times include barking at his own shadow, using his tail as a weapon and jumping into the highest snowbanks he can find.

My brother found Jack wandering a remote part of highway just about two years ago. He picked him up and put him in his truck because he didn’t want him to get hit by a car. He tried to take him to the local animal shelter and they wouldn’t take him because they didn’t have enough room. (Being that we’re in a small town, the shelter asked him if he could take the dog home/find the owner on his own, or the dog would likely be shipped to a shelter in Vancovuer) My brother told the police and bylaws enforcement that he found this dog in hopes that someone would claim him and then took him home thinking he’d be keeping him for a day or two until someone came to claim him.

No one came to claim him.

There were no missing dog signs. There were no missing dog notifications on Facebook. Worried someone was out there missing their dog, my brother continued to call the animal shelter, the police station and the local bylaws enforcement for three months after he found Jack. No one ever called in looking for a missing rottweiler.

And that’s how we found Jack.

He’s the most protective, most loyal, most loving dog. I’m not sure what happened to his previous owner, if they lost him or they just left him. I’d like to hope that people aren’t out there just abandoning dogs… but at the same time no one ever claimed him. No one ever even looked for him. So a piece of me feels like he might just well have been abandoned.

He falls asleep at the foot of your bed every night. If you get upset, he tries to curl up onto your lap because he’s unaware of his massive size. He’s never met a cat that he doesn’t absolutely love and, he’s just always happy. Always. To be honest, I could probably learn a lesson or two from him.

So, I’m sick. I know I say that a lot – the benefits to having a sucky immune system is that it’s true each time that I say it. Jack got here around noon yesterday and he has not left my side. I kid you not. He doesn’t even want to go outside. He just wants to lay at my feet, or sit on my lap. The sweet, kind, wonderful neighbour offered to take him for a walk last night because she knew I was sick and she wanted him to get out for a walk… and he didn’t even want to leave my side.

I often see memes, photos and videos around the internet that exclaim ‘we don’t deserve dogs’, dogs are too kind too us. Jack makes me think of those memes and photos and videos. Dogs are such a gift.

A new low for the human race.

Honestly, I should just make an series on this blog to showcase all of the reasons why Influencers are idiots. Because there are a lot of them. There are stories which anger me, there are stories that annoy me and then there are stories that make me wonder how I am the same species as some people.

An ‘Influencer’ (we all know I use that term lightly) and aspiring rapper from Ontario was recently detained at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport due to a stunt he pulled on a plane headed for Jamaica that he hoped would make him go viral.

Approximately 30 minutes from landing in Montego Bay, Jamaica, WestJet Flight 2702 (Toronto to Montego Bay) was rerouted back to Toronto.

Why?

James Potok stood up in the back of the plane to exclaim that he had just gotten back from China and was not feeling well, and that he thought he might have Corona Virus.

Potok’s buddy actually filmed the stunt because they had hopes of releasing the video of his ‘prank’ to his YouTube channel and it would make him an internet sensation.

Being the idiot that he is, Potok thought everyone would laugh it off, he’d sit back down and land in Jamaica for a nice holiday, which he exclaimed was to ‘film his new music video’.

Oh no, no, no.

Infectious disease protocols require that any plane must return to it’s originating city unless there is imminent risk of death to one or more passengers on board. Furthermore, the infected passenger must be quarantined and ALL passengers are subject to medical evaluation upon landing.

Jamaica, an Island Nation, certainly isn’t going to let someone land in their country with an infectious disease that could spread throughout the rest of the tiny country. So, the plane turned around and returned to Toronto. More than 200 people had their holidays delayed, put on hold or cancelled and Potok’s response was ‘I’m an artists… any publicity is good publicity’.

There are three important notes to point out here:

  1. More than 200 people were forced to sit on a plane for several hours (as it returned home to Toronto) with someone who’d claimed that he had an infectious disease, a disease that they could very well have caught by just being in proximity to him.
  2. Those people were then subject to medical evaluations, as precautionary measure, after it was learned this was all a hoax, thus delaying their abilities to get on new flights, or rearrange their travel plans. Many people didn’t just miss a day or two of their holiday but there were at least a dozen people on that flight who were headed to Jamaica for a wedding and were not able to get to the wedding because of this.
  3. More than 200 people were stranded in Jamaica, unable to return home to go back to work on time, or back to their lives because the plane that was supposed to drop people off in Jamaica and pick up passengers to fly back to Toronto never got there. Work was missed, and people were in panic mode trying to secure childcare because they thought they were going to be home several days before they were actually all able to get home. They had to spend extra money to stay extra nights in Jamaica because of this, and it could take up to a year for the airline to reimburse them for this, if they get reimbursed at all.

As you can tell from the #VirusBoy and #WuhanClan that are new additions to his Instagram Bio, James Potok clearly shows a great deal of remorse for what he did.

Here’s what he had to say in the airport after returning home, getting medical clearance that he did not, in fact have corona virus, and being detained by Canadian authorities:

Look at the smug written all over his face…

It’s worth noting that Potok is being charged with mischief and breach of recognizance and is due in Ontario Provincial Court on March 9th for the stunt he pulled. But, I really don’t think that he cares.

To take his manipulation even a step further into the territory of shiteous human being, and, in his words ‘to say sorry for all of the hassle [he’s] caused’, he’s now claiming to be giving away $5,000 on his Instagram page. All you have to do is like and follow his account, his friend’s account who was on the flight to shoot the video they hoped would go viral, and to like his post, tag three friends and share the post to your own Instagram.

God, if I were a lawyer right now, that would be cataloged as Exhibits A through Z of why he’s not sorry for what he’s done, shows no remorse and is currently trying to capitalize on the attention he’s received for his careless, dangerous stunt.

I mean, how am I the same species as this person?

Could you imagine believing you were trapped on a plane (a tiny sky tin with recirculating air) with someone who potentially had an infectious disease? As someone who suffers from anxiety, those several hours flying back to Toronto would have been the worst hours of my life. Imagine the people on board with babies, or the elderly people on board who’s immune system’s are, at times, weaker than the rest of us. Imagine the torture of having to fly back to Toronto wondering the whole time, worrying the whole time.

And to the 179 people who commented on his ‘Instagram Giveaway’ tagging their friends, you also need a lesson in basic human decency.

As far as I’m concerned, this smug idiot should have his social media accounts shut down. I’d love it if Instagram just outright deleted his account and if YouTube just deleted his channel. People like this deserve to fade into obscurity somewhere.

Point of Note – When asked if he felt sorry for what happened, Potok proclaimed that his joke was taken out of context and that he was talking about a Chinese Food restaurant and that he had food poisoning. Though it’s on video him saying ‘I think I have Corona Virus’, he’s currently trying to tell the news outlets, and the world through his online platforms, that he never said anything about corona virus.

Given this is basically all online at this point, I can’t wait to, in a month’s time, hear that a judge used his Instagram and YouTube messages against him and that he’s being charged criminally.

And honestly, if I were WestJet, he’d be on a no-fly list for life and I’d go after him to seek damages for all of the reimbursements to other travellers they had to make and are going to have to make, because of his stunt.

This disease has killed more than 500 people worldwide. And all that is to him is a means to get more Instagram followers…

*Additional Note: To the people tired of me ragging Influencers, I’d be happy to share some good stories about Influencers, I just don’t know any. I wholeheartedly believe that people who use their influence for good don’t seek credit/internet fame for what they do. But, if you have a lovely story of an Influencer using their influence for good, please share. I’d love to shine a light on it.