A constant in our UBC lives has changed.
Typically, Gabriel — a grey-haired and ball-capped man — greets commuter students every morning with the daily newspaper and a warm smile as we step off of the bus.
Gabriel has been handing out papers long enough to see the aquatic centre rise from the dust, providing a foil to the changing environment of UBC. But on November 27 he received a call that the 24 Hours Newspaper was shutting down. It would be the last day of distribution.
This sudden closure not only released Gabriel from his daily morning routine, but also his community at UBC.
Gabriel is originally from Toronto, Ontario and studied electronics at school. But he struggled to access resources that would guide him along a career path, specifically one that he enjoyed.
“I was always trying to figure out what I wanted to do, that was the hard part!” he exclaimed.
Gabriel eventually moved out to Vancouver several years later to see family and decided to stay. He was happy to find a flexible job as a newspaper distributor with 24 Hours.
On a typical day, he woke up at 5 a.m. to distribute the papers at 7 a.m., just before many of us arrived at UBC. For him, the social aspects of the job make up for the other challenges, like the early hours and the weather.
Like many of us new to Vancouver and campus, making connections can been difficult, but he noted that the connections he made with staff and students was what made it really nice and worthwhile to come into work.
Those of us who were greeted by him everyday on our way to class or work, would say likewise, especially those of us whom he has known for years by name.
“I’m very thankful for everyone who took the paper and that they were so nice and kind to me,” said Gabriel.
In this new chapter of his life, he is now asking himself, “What am I going to do next?”
Aside from finding a new job, he hopes to invest time in his passion: music. He loves going to the Commodore and the Vogue, as well as following his favourite metal bands such as Symphony X. He hopes to catch a couple more shows and maybe even pick up the guitar. Perhaps he will travel Japan, Iceland and Scandinavia (which according to him has an awesome punk scene).
But mostly he hopes to find social community.
For now, he left us with this advice. “Do something you like. Find something you enjoy and be more compassionate to each other.”