It’s February the 14th!

Happy 44th birthday, Yuka Sato!

Oh, yes, and it’s Valentine’s Day. When we celebrate enduring love for our significant other with heart shaped boxes of chocolates and red roses.

This year, I’m alone on Cupid’s annual arrow day. Some people are probably thinking, “Poor girl. Probably so lonely. Must be awful. Hang in there, little trooper.” If I see #PrayforTammy trending on Twitter, I’m unfollowing everyone. If I survived Christmas alone, Valentine’s Day will be a snap.

Looking back, there have been some memorable Valentine’s Days. I could write about the three-foot bear in a hatchback. Or the having a camera snaked up my nose. However, this one tops that 2014 ENT experience.

I’ll set the scene:

Winnipeg, Manitoba. Polo Park Shopping Centre. February 14th, 1997. No boyfriend. So, I was soothing my aching 20-year-old heart with retail therapy. Mariposa, Thrifty’s, San Francisco, Karuba. I’m sure I just confused a lot of Millennials.

I dragged my lip from store to store. Sulking, like a baby whose soother was stolen. Couples were passing me, holding hands. I felt invisible. Like I didn’t matter. Feelings which forced me to wear out my debit card on unnecessary shirts and skirts. Overpriced scented candles, caramel Kennels popcorn – and a cute burgundy dress.

When nothing caught my eye in HMV, I left. Simple, right? Enter a store, walk around, and leave.

Nope.

Two police officers slowly approached me. One clenched a clipboard. I knew I was their target because they were looking right at me, as though to say, “You! In the ivory Navajo print winter coat! Stop!”

“Excuse me, miss?” said one officer. “We’d like to ask you a couple questions.”

Questions? Questions! No one should have to answer questions at a mall unless it’s “Are you okay in there,” and “Should I bring you a smaller size.”

“Are you over 18?”

“Yes.”

“Are you a resident of Manitoba?”

“Yes.”

“Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offence?”

Seriously, just cut to the chase because I was on the verge of fainting from dehydration due to intense perspiration and panic. “No.”

I watched one of the officers scribble on his clipboard. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but it was basically, “You’ve been selected for jury duty,” and he passed me my jury summons.

My eyes lit up. “Really?”

“Please show up at the Manitoba Law Courts Building on Monday,” said the officer. “Thank you,” and they went on their jury searching way. I’m sure the officers had been told, “People will be scrambling for last minute gifts. Hit the malls and pet shops.”

My mood changed from pouty to perky. Jury duty? How cool.

The following Monday though, when I entered the juror holding room, my chipper attitude wasn’t appreciated. People were mad, bitter – and down right angry. Holy negativity, Batman.

I sat down across this guy with amazing green eyes. I glanced at his jacket, and I saw the emblem that makes a girl’s heart melt: “Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Services.”

“Are you a firefighter?”

“Yeah,” he said, bluntly.

“Cool.”

“Cranky amazing green-eyed firefighter” and I made small talk. I followed everything he said with “cool” and “awesome.” He’d been approached by the officers in the same mall as me, but he didn’t seem happy like me.

Regardless, I said, “Cool,” grinning like an idiot. Because this was a sign. The jury summons was a Valentine’s Day gift. “Amazing green-eyed firefighter” and I in the same mall? Called for jury duty on the same day? What were the odds? Remember, I was 20 years old.

He seemed agitated. “Why is this taking so long? I have better things to do than sit here,” he said, who started to seem less amazing.

By time we were called to the courtroom, he was just amazing in green eyes only. And another disappointment followed. At least for me.

Once we were ushered into the courtroom, we were told our services weren’t necessary. Apparently the accused confessed minutes earlier. I was like, “What the hell. You promised me jury duty!”

We were thanked for our services and told we’d receive compensation within two weeks.

Now, everyone was cranky for various reasons. As the defunct juror pool returned to the holding room, “super-cranky, amazing green eyed firefighter” pulled on his leather jacket with the fire fighter’s emblem, and I heard him say to someone, ” … next year, my girlfriend can buy her own Valentine’s Day gift.” Mega deduction for poor sportsmanship.

In hindsight, those two officers made my Valentine’s Day special.

Celebrating with someone is nice, but it’s not necessary. Sometimes, you need to feel as though you matter to society.

Those two officers saw me when I felt invisible, and they made me feel valuable. On Valentine’s Day, they made me realize there’s more to life than having a partner.

And that’s having a purpose.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
*ENT – Ear, nose and throat specialist