Tim Louis: Just the other day

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      I do not normally talk about my disability but today I’m going to make an exception. 

      When asked “What is your disability?” I always tell the truth—on September 10, 1984, I was called to the bar. I am a lawyer!

      What prompted my full disclosure now? I recently had a telephone conversation with a woman who I won’t name. My other so-called disability came up.

      Not being able to see her over the phone, and never having met her, I asked her if she was one of those old-fashioned bipeds. She had no idea what I was talking about, so I attempted to explain.

      Bipeds move around, lumbering along on their two legs. But in the process, they expend a considerable number of calories. I went on to explain that I am a much more advanced species—I use electrons stored in a battery on the back of my chair to move around and so, I expend zero calories.

      I put to her that I therefore had a competitive advantage over her and all other bipeds. To my astonishment, she replied “You’re right. You do have a competitive disadvantage.”

      Well, I don’t give up easily, so I was determined to try again.

      I asked her if she gets herself dressed every morning—perhaps a mildly inappropriate question but she willingly replied, “Of course I do.” I observed that people like her who get themselves dressed the old-fashioned way expend a considerable number of calories.

      I went on to remind her that up until recent times, European royalty had servants to get them dressed. I told her that I was as lazy as European royalty—I hire someone to get me dressed, and in the process, I expend zero calories.

      I put to her once again that I had a competitive advantage over her. And to my disbelief, she once again replied “You are absolutely correct. You do have a competitive disadvantage!”

      I would not give up. I decided to make one last attempt.

      I asked her if she breathed on her own. She appeared to be more taken aback by this question than by my previous examples. She replied, “Of course I breathe on my own.”

      I went on to explain that I have a beautiful, state-of-the-art breathing machine—a BPAP—and that I adjust the settings such that, per minute, the BPAP inflates my lungs the same number of times she would inhale. Once again, I pointed out to her that I expend virtually zero calories—a mere fraction of the calories she expends taking a breath literally thousands of times a day.

      I once again put to her that I therefore had a clear competitive advantage over her. She once again replied “You’re right, you have a competitive disadvantage.”

      Well, in baseball they say, “Three strikes and you’re out.” So, I abandoned my struggle and very politely ended our telephone conversation.

      All of the above reminded me, in technicolour, of one of the most humorous exchanges I have had the pleasure of in my entire lifetime.

      Many, many years ago, while I was still on the board of directors of Canada's largest community-based credit union—Vancity—I was appointed by that board to chair one its subsidiaries, the Vancity Community Foundation. David Driscoll, the foundation’s then executive director and a fine human being, and I were asked to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony for newly constructed housing for low-income individuals.

      The developer saw us both, marched confidently over to us, and proclaimed, “I am so happy to have developed housing for people like you,” pointing at me.

      According to my good friend David, I replied “You are building low-cost housing for lawyers?”

      Every human being gets used to perceiving the world as they think it is.

      Sometimes, this can be a real disadvantage!

      Daily atmospheric CO2 [Courtesy of CO2.Earth]

      Latest daily total (May 13, 2021): 418.03 ppm

      One year ago (May 13, 2020): 416.98 ppm

      Tim Louis is a Vancouver lawyer and former city councillor and park commissioner. This article first appeared on his blog, which lists the daily carbon dioxide count in parts per million in the atmosphere at the end of every post. The Georgia Straight publishes opinions like this from the community to encourage constructive debate on important issues.