Monday, September 03, 2012

More on Christchurch: doors and old people

This is another post on my recent Christchurch trip, the one we didn't go on in order to sell Bulova watches door-to-door.  See the previous post regarding what we gave away door-to-door, rather than sold.

I actually enjoyed going door-knocking.  I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, and one or two of the group found it a bit hard, I think, but that's part of the training, and the gaining of confidence.  I've probably had plenty of experience with other people's doors, over the years.  I was a Bon Brush salesman at one time, which involved a lot of door-knocking, some of it more successful than others.   (Bon Brush is now gone the way of many good firms, unfortunately.)  And I was a postman, which occasionally meant you had to knock at someone's door to get them to sign for a registered parcel, or to take something that wouldn't fit in the postbox.  And I've done surveys which required going door-to-door until you got enough people to fill your quota.  They had to be willing to answer your questions, and had to be the right sort of age, and right gender and so on in order to fit the criteria required.  That could be tough.  I remember one long, long day trailing up and down streets in Abbotsford and struggling to fill my quota because so few people were interested in responding.  Nothing to do with the fact that I was in Abbotsford; it was just one of those days.

So door-knocking is no problem to me.  And talking to strangers is something I don't have a hassle with either.  Furthermore, because we had a particular reason for being there, people were quite content to stop and talk and answer some questions about the state of things.  And in some cases that even led to conversations about God and church and such, which was fine.

I particularly enjoyed the conversations we had with old people: there was a man and a woman (in separate places) who were both 93 and had plenty to tell us about life and their histories.  The man had a boat, and a number of fairly serious ailments.  At one point he looked rather wistfully at the boat sitting in his backyard and said, "I probably won't be going out on her again."  I agreed, thinking that the fact that he had problems with his knees (he had a fall in one of the quakes) wouldn't allow him to climb up into the thing for a start.  But he was still driving to the supermarket...

The old lady was a delight even though she'd been quite badly injured in one of the early quakes: the fireplace had blown out.  She'd received singeing to her fingers, but that was just the start.  She'd been hit by something heavy and had almost lost sight in her left eye, had had a damaged hip, cracked some ribs and more.  She'd been in and out of hospital several times since.   She would have kept us talking all day, if we'd wanted to stay.  She told us how she used to have a sleep-out at the back of the house - she'd put mates of her son, who was a soldier, up in there overnight, so they didn't have drive back to the barracks under the influence.  Sadly, people had been stealing the wood from the sleep-out after it got damaged in the quake.

Another old man had so many ailments that just when you thought he'd run out, he'd produce another one: several heart attacks, including one when he was on the operating table having something else attended to, blood in his urine, possible cancer, diabetes (which was a bit ironic, because he was one of the ones we took biscuits bake too - he said he'd sneak a bite or two in every now and then) and arthritis in his hands.  The latter had been made worse by some medication he'd been given a decade or more ago - given by someone who's now a top medical person - and which one of the other staff had noted was basically poison.  Not only did it not do anything for his arthritis, is left his hands looking as though they'd been burnt.  He was given some antidote, but that hadn't helped much.

These three people all lived on their own, which is a bit worrying when you think of the illnesses and disabilities they have.  They seemed remarkably resilient.  Another woman had had her house fall apart around her, and had been taken quickly to her daughter's home where she now lives.  She said all she could remember was grabbing some underwear out of one of the drawers.   She couldn't even recall what time of day it was that the first earthquake occurred; we reminded her that it had been in the early hours of the morning.  She told about her brothers and sisters - she had had eight or nine of them - and how one of them (it sounded as though he'd been one of her favourite brothers) had been killed, along with his daughter, when he ran into a train....                       To be continued....
Post a Comment