Not all protests, demonstrations, revolt are loud and violent some are so quietly profound that it leaves an unmistakable sound that makes it hard to ignore the ringing in your ear and heart.
Friday October 29, 2010 7:09 A.M. I was running to a Person’s Breakfast. It was cold. It was the kind of morning I call crispy, you know, when the breeze blows and it feels like someone is biting your skin, so there is no time to dilly dally on the streets, your steps are hurried almost to a run, your coat is buttoned to the chin, your shoulders are hunched up around your ears and your hands are either tucked into your pockets or held tightly to your chest where you periodically rub it together to create heat or blow into it so the heat from your breath can warm it a little. Hmmmmm, mmmm, winter is making itself known.
As I reached Bay street bus stop I saw a bulked figure on the ground directly in front the steps of Old City Hall (OCH). I slowed my pace a bit. I was somewhat apprehensive and not quite sure if it really was a person, then there was movement as the figure adjusted the knapsack under their head. An Asian gentleman approached the sleeping figure, bent low as if checking to see if the person was alive and said something to the person lying there. I did not hear as I was too far away however the person simply adjusted their self again and ignoring the gentleman. The Asian gentleman straightened himself, shook his head and left walking south on bay toward Richmond.
I thought to myself staring at the person lying on the sidewalk in front of the OCH stairs and wondered ‘why here, in front of the steps of Old City Hall, this couldn’t be incidental, no this person knew exactly what they are doing.’ I thought, ‘they are staging a quiet revolution’ because it is a very specific spot. The Old City Hall and the New City Hall stand side by side. One is located on 60 Queen Street West, the other at 100 Queen Street West which is directly across the street.
Usually the homeless in the city sleep over the heated vents in the street, this person ignored them all because just a few feet down and across the street from where they lay there were heated vents. Seeing the homeless gets to me every time. It is a scary situation to be in and to witness because the reality is it can happen to anyone. It keeps me humble and greatful. The weather here can be brutal and aside from worrying about getting a roof over ones head, food to eat and all the other challenges that comes with being homeless there is the matter of staying warm and avoiding hyperthermia not to mention death.
It’s not easy trying to maneuver life sometimes, so many are out of jobs, can’t find decent paying jobs or are working for menial wages, living hand to mouth, pay check to pay check having to decide between medicine and rent, rent and food, choosing between their health and their children’s. Many use soup kitchens, food banks and whatever charitable resources available to help supplement their lack of income or menial income. It’s a nasty reality so many face and fear. Most people don’t think it occurs here because this is Canada however it is very real. Life is not a rose garden, it is unpredictable and things can change on a dime.
It is wise for all of us to be mindful that whenever we encounter a homeless person to keep a still tongue, try not to judge, turn up your nose and assign labels because the truth of the matter is we don’t know their circumstance, their story and not everyone is a drug addict, drunk, or suffering with mental health issues.