Daily Archives: December 16, 2011

Write By Your Side

This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about the bigheartedness of writers, and it likely won’t be the last. In a field where you’d expect cutthroat competitiveness, all of us vying for the same freelance jobs, you get instead a special brand of camaraderie. We pass around work leads, we share industry news, we praise one’s magazine feature or another’s book release.

Oh, and in special cases we feed each other.

Carey Rutherford, in Calgary, is a self-employed single dad dealing with rent and grocery bills while establishing himself as a writer. These are lean times and, like almost 900,000 other Canadians, he relates more than one visit to the local food bank to keep the pantry filled.

Carey also likes visiting with other writers, so he recently hosted a meeting of a local group in the modest apartment he shares with his daughter. (Yes, it was an important opportunity to network with colleagues. It also meant potluck leftovers.)

Carey was astounded when the group president arrived early carrying not just potluck dishes for the meeting, but also a large box of non-perishable food items for the host. Her own family of four knew Carey was struggling and had decided to help.

“I was so touched!” Carey says, adding that this particular donor of digestibles has already demonstrated her generosity by supporting and encouraging his writing business.

Furthermore, the benefactor in question just happens to be Andrea Tombrowski, co-author (along with husband Peter) of Urban Camping: A Testament to Living Without a Vehicle. Which means, you guessed it, she doesn’t own a car. The food hamper for Carey involved a one-hour round-trip to the grocery store, on foot, pushing a jogging stroller. And that was just the start. Says Carey: “The care package for me, the foods purchased for the meeting, and herself, were all transported from one side of Calgary’s newly descended winter landscape to the other on public transit!”

Andrea calls her act a “humble little deed” and told me, “When someone says they’re using the food bank, you listen – and hopefully respond in a meaningful way.” She was relieved that Carey was gracious, not offended.

Far from it. He virtually shouted out his grocery gratitude on a writers’ message board where many would see it: “I would like to suggest loud, enthusiastic applause for our thoughtful member,” he wrote. “You rule!”

“Our family is not financially well off, by any means,” says Andrea. “We rent a small apartment and maintain a small footprint. The point is to give from what you have, and not wait until you are ‘better off’… Use the opportunities to be of service to your fellow man now.”

You know they say nice guys finish last? Maybe that’s because they carried a food hamper on foot. Carey’s right. Do-gooders do rule.

Carey Rutherford working at his desk

Carey Rutherford hard at work: There’s no Plants vs. Zombies going on here. All the more reason to hire this guy.