Wednesday, 21 January 2015

When Ron MacLean Comes to Town

Imagine:  you are a shop owner in the downtown of a small city.  Perhaps you own a coffee shop across from the market square.  It is the weekend before Christmas,  You are hoping for a good rush of shoppers for the next couple of days to make the month worthwhile.  Saturday morning you see trailer trucks coming into the streets lining the square.  McDonald's owns one of these trailers.  They are giving away free coffee.  The trailers are blocking your storefront from view.  You hear the grinding of big engines running and the fumes are pretty overwhelming.  Ron MacLean is skating around on the little ice rink in front of city hall.  He might be doing some kind of heartwarming commentary for TV about Canada's pastime in between burst of skating.  You can't see and aren't interested, but you have time to wonder because there aren't many customers.  The coffee from McDonald's is  free.

The vendors in the market square, meanwhile, out in the cold, standing at their booths, are also looking towards Ron. There are crowds of coffee drinkers and not a customer in sight.  Some of the vendors pack up early. The clothier next to you is not getting many customers either.  Sidewalks are closed, trucks are everywhere. You wonder why there are so many trucks for one little man.

Sometimes something comes up, like the visit of a celebrated hockey commentator.  A city makes some kind of decision.  We can have him come and skate and celebrate our great game, but do we have to consider what this does for those who are trying to make a living in the same space that he's in?  Do we allow ourselves to believe that a celebrity's presence lifts all boats?  Do we give him and his entourage free rein and hope for the best?

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