What serendipity looks like
Robbie was a special kid. His name wasn’t Robbie, it was Rob. But I called him Robbie affectionately because, well because he was a special kid.
He was all black skinny jeans, band shirts and bouncy blonde hair. Everyone loved Robbie. He was smart, kind and saturated in the shiny glisten of a kid on the precipice of great things.Unlike most other boys his age he was a sensitive kid, obsessed with music, literature and with a keen desire to truly know things.
Robbie had it tough. He was suffering from quite a few tragic circumstances. I won’t mention them here because they are Robbie’s stories to tell.
Needless to say, I like to think I took Robbie under my wing.
I’d often see him walking along the school’s garden paths trapped in his own thoughts. I’d pause and ask if he’d like to chat, if those demons needed a friendly ear.
Often he said yes. So we’d stand there as the bell rang and as the students milled past like so many industrious ants. We’d chat.
Sometimes being a teacher has nothing to do with teaching. It’s just being there. It’s just standing still long enough.
As Robbie’s senior year approached he worked his way through the slings and arrows of life. It wasn’t fair that he had to carry the weight of those things. But somehow he did.
He fell in love with music and singing and became obsessed with the Arctic world; such a disparate one to that of Brisbane. It was an alternative – a fantasy world of ice and Polar Bears.
One day Robbie approached. “Miss, I’ve reached my library borrowing limit but I really want to get out this book on Polar Bears. Can you borrow it for me?”
Well of course.
We shared a little joke that the book was so good he was going to keep it.
Graduation came. Robbie’s year was the first group of students whom I had taught for the full five years, from veritable infants to graduation.
It was his last day and Robbie still hadn’t returned the book on Polar Bears. We kept it as a little unspoken joke and as he crossed that threshold and bounced into the world beyond our little school. He took a newfound strength with him. And the book.
Five years passed.
I heard that Robbie was in Canada. What wonderful news. He was forging his own happiness. I asked him if he liked Canada as my best friend was living just below the Arctic Circle.
Back came the reply. He loved it. It was the polar paradise that he’d always dreamed of. If he could get a job, he’d stay. I contacted Belinda immediately and told her about a fabulous young chap who would be her dream employee.
Several emails, a resume and a Canadian visa later, Robbie was heading to Churchill Manitoba, the Polar Bear capital of the world.
The definition of serendipity is “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.”
I think that pretty much nails it.
To think that skinny-jean Robbie was now living on the Hudson Bay, waiting on tables for my dearest friend and looking out of his snow-filled windows into the icy heartland of the Polar Bear couldn’t be any more perfect.
It’s an ode to serendipity.
So if you too feel the call of the Polar Bear and find yourself at the Tundra Inn in ask to chew-the-fat with a young chap called Robbie.
Something tells me he could rustle up a very good book on the subject.
Note: This story is published with Robbie’s permission.