I passed a fellow begging coins as I walked along side the street earlier today. He sat quietly, cross legged on the pavement and bid me good day. His eyes were blue, clear and healthy looking, which was odd considering this fellow's obvious lack of means.He didn't ask for money yet held a cup containing coins.
His thick ruddy beard was the stuff of envy had he lived in Gastown, Yaletown or perhaps regularly haunted a craft beer house.
No...evidently he lived nowhere and everywhere. You see, his things were piled against the outer wall of a Tim Hortons across from him. A bike, crutches, boot cast, 2 pillows, sleeping bag, a few loaves of bread and a bindle of, I can only guess, more seasonal clothes.
He wore a hoody and a thick full length coat. You know the Jethro Tull album Aqualung, HIS younger son perhaps.
I don't carry change. In all honesty, I don't have spare change. My rent is more than 1 paycheque.
I wondered if he had opinions of me as a bid him hello while wearing my thrift store clothes vs the people who ignored him in their Hunter boots, manicured fingers weighed down with lattes.
I know I have my own prejudices, but did he at that moment? Does he?
What does he think? Does he even bother to think anymore? What about?
I said hello because I noticed him yet offered no drink or crust. Many others didn't notice him so they couldn't offer drink and crust.
Who's the villain? To be fair, I DID have an appointment. I'm always going or coming...I simply haven't the time....
If you know me, you'd agree that the truth is that if I was able to carry a sack of coins around, it would be empty before the day's end, or night, and I'd have many stories to post here. Unfortunately, I haven't the means. I do get the stories though.
I think it fair to say and indeed the proof has been in the pudding, that simple conversation and acknowledgement of their existence is often worth more than a few spare coins to these lowly creatures.
Ray, Steve, Gerrald, Paul, Frank who is John, and John have NEVER asked me for money, not once. In all honesty, I'm not sure I'd know what to tell them should they ask. I don't carry cash because I love giving big banks that extra money hidden from merchants in debit transactions? If I carried money I'd only spend it.
It's a bit delicate really isn't it? It's not unlike the Busker playing music outside the liquor store or Skytrain station. It's not like you're out for the day and decide to hang out at Stations or liquor stores... NO, you're busy! Do you toss a few coins in the hat out of pity, appreciation, spite or because the Canadian Government continues to make cash heavily inconvenient so its easier to part with and what the hell, the musician is earning it...maybe you dig music?
That panhandler back there...why doesn't he just get a job! Why doesn't he contribute to the system? Why should he be allowed to live off the backs of us? I have Rights! I have the Right to walk out of the drug store with a bag of items that I just paid for and shouldn't have to feel guilty walking past this beggar! I shouldn't have to be made to try and look as if I'm occupied with something else so my eyes don't have to meet his clear, healthy, blue eyes.
I have the Right to believe that he simply does not exist.
Indeed you do. This is Canada. We all have Freedoms and Rights. We don't have to chant about it in some State mantra in order to never forget how great our Country is like we're trying to convince ourselves that we ARE free when in fact we're not.
No, you ARE free! This is Canada!
You also have the freedom to ask Blue Eyes if he'd like a drink or some food and if he'd mind if you sat and took lunch with him in order to hear what was on his heart.
In so doing, you may save a life. In the very least, I'll smile when you tell me about it.
Tis true, some of these people have decided to opt out. That takes guts! Others go off into the woods and we don't hear from them or see them again. Some go to India and become followers of a belief system...never hear from them or see them again either. Indeed, some go to college, then university, then join a firm, climb the ladder, make it to the top and we rarely hear from them again either.
Many choices under the Stratosphere really, never a level starting field though.
The way we've all come to rely on money and Corporations is rather unsettling. Consider some other Countries...private monies have simply disappeared. In fact, I never SEE a paycheque, it's all pretend. It's all out of my control.
As an example, many people are thrilled about these recent lower gasoline prices! The other side of that coin is that some people, unfortunately, could be about to lose their homes! Still others are being "forced" to lower their higher standard of living. So many points of view.
All in all, I'm thinking that its quite possible that we all should start being nicer to Blue Eyes even if only because YOU just might find yourself in need of a spot beside him on the pavement.