Posted by: Hilary Spicer
The Quickie convenience store, where so many of us head to buy milk or a coffee or a lottery ticket or post a letter, will continue to be our “go to” place after several months of uncertainty.
This neighbourhood store has become one of my drop-in centers since I first came to Ottawa. It has been a place where we share stories about our countries of origin, our concerns for our community, our hopes for the future.
Do you know the names of the delightful people who work here?
There is Kausar, the efficient, ever-smiling young woman from Syria, at the Canada Post counter. She is consistently positive with each client and knows how best to support each request.
On Saturdays, Willow takes over Canada Post. She is currently a student of philosophy at Ottawa University.
Mehari, the chief of operations whom I shall always remember for his generosity in contributing supplies for me to take to Cuba where I often volunteer teach…when I offered to pay him, he said “This is about paying back and passing it forward.” He is from Eritrea and has known challenging times. He is funny, lightens the atmosphere, always cheering everyone up.
Then there is Daniel, also from Eritrea via Ethiopia. His story is miraculous. As a young man, he was in love, but because of the unsettled conditions, he lost contact with his love and heard nothing about her for 30 years. She had come to Canada while he remained in Africa. Somehow, they re-discovered one another on Facebook! She returned to Africa, they married, and came to Canada together. He is such a gracious and welcoming person to add to the Quickie group.
And what about Okubay? Also originally from Eritrea via Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt and 7 years in Israel. I shall always remember his handing me my credit card one day, after I thought I had lost it forever, the panic subsiding as he passed it over the counter.
I am not sure for how long I shall live in Ottawa, yet one of my most positive memories will always be times spent at the Quickie where there was always a deeper level of communication going on than the purchase of a stamp or a litre of milk!
Hilary Spicer lives in Old Ottawa South.
Featured in the November 2023 OSCAR.