Jun 26, 2011


Panhandlers (a pretty name for beggars) here, there, and everywhere…

  • He looks old, posture stooped as he sits on a bucket by the CIBC beggars cupbank, a harmonica in one hand perched up against his lips playing non-melodically with a Styrofoam cup in the other hand shaking periodically as he pauses to say. “Spear some change?”
  • Dressed casually a young Caucasian male in his early to mid thirties approximately six feet tall stands by the entrance of the subway, knapsack on his back, a clear plastic bag with jeans inside clasped firmly in his right hand and his left hand outstretched. “Excuse me; do you have a loonie ($1.00), a toonie ($2.00) or a token please to spear so I can get in the subway?”
  • In his late fifties cloth in dirty khaki pants and shirt he sits crouched in the corner by the bank machine his legs folded under him, his fingernails black and grimy as he stretches it and asks. “Spear some change, any amount will do.”
  • Sitting between the bargain store and the school of Tai Quan Do he stretches every each time a pedestrian pass by, “spare some change?”
  • Male Caucasian in his late thirties about 150 pounds he walks the stretch from the subway to the bank, a cardboard sign in hand ‘WILL WORK FOR FOOD’.
  • Her black kinky hair sat matted and unkempt on her head, her clothes hanged loosely on her form dirty and dingy, her eyes wild. Her dark skin dirty as she moves briskly along the subway car speaking loudly, “Excuse me, excuse me, can you spear $2, I am really hungry, I haven’t eaten in days, please can somebody help me, I am really hungry”. When she gets no attention she goes from person to person invades their space as she gets close up to them and shouts excuse me can you give me $2 to buy something to eat, I am really hungry.” She will accept nothing less than $2. If she is given less than $2, she will throw it back at the person asking them what they expect her to do with that.
  • Standing in the road beside the streetcar stop, he stopped me before the streetcar came close, “Excuse me miss can you space five cents?” I looked at him, a young Caucasian man in his late twenties dressed casually, I burst out laughing and asked, "five cents, what can you get for five cents?" He looked at me amused and smiling himself and said, “well miss most people have five cents, if i ask for a $ they don't have”. I had little on me, I took out my change purse and emptied it in his hand, $2.75 and told him, “Thanks for the laugh, have a good evening”. I boarded the streetcar still smiling to myself.
  • She sways slightly, her steps jiggered; face swollen & flushed, eyes bloodshot. She is aboriginal in her mid to late thirties, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and smells of a combination of alcohol and pee. .she asks, “Please miss can you spear some change for something to eat, am hungry.” We walked to the pizza restaurant nearby, I asks her to order anything off the menu she likes. I pay the cashier and asks him to give her the change. She takes her food, the change, thanks me and sits and eat.
  • The cars stops at the traffic light and out jumps a young man squeegee in hand and a spray bottle in the other. He chooses a car and squeezes water unto the windshield, up, down, left; right he squeegees and waited expectantly for his monetary reward for cleaning the windshield. When he is rewarded he walks away happy. When he is not he is angry, he swears and sometimes resorts to hitting the trunks of the cars driven by the person he feels stiff him.
  • He canvases the food court walking up to people eating handing them a card that says he cannot speak and is in need of assistance can you please spear some change.
  • He is stationed in the Yonge subway, Northbound he plays his keyboard, Latin music, on the floor beside him lays the keyboard case with some CDs of his music and some dollar bills and coins. Crowds gather to listen; some pass by and drop coins as he continues to play.
  • He is south Asian older man probably in his mid to late sixties, he walks with a cane and drags his feet as he shovels along. He approaches anyone that make eye contact, "spare some change?"
  • He files through the garbage looking for food. He is young, early twenties Asian, eyes a bit wild, he stops and sips from a cup, he picks up a Mc Donalds half eaten burger and finishes it, he looks for more and finds nothing. He closes back the garbage and looks around. He approaches me, "spare some change". Ready with change in hand I drop in $3.00 and walked away with a pray in my mind for him that he find his way.
  • He lays across the heating vent on the sidewalk, tucked into his sleeping bag trying to stay warm on a cold winter's night, he sticks out a cloved hand..."spare some change for a coffee"
  • He sits on a milk crate craving Styrofoam into animals, pigs, horses, bears, lions, monkeys, cats, dogs, seals and chickens, which he neatly organizes on another milk crate that sports a sign that reads $2.00 each, he works meticulously.
  • She is Caucasian early to mid forties, shoulder length stringy brown hair, stands silently on Yonge street between Queen and Dundas with a cup filled with pens selling, holding a sign that says $1.00 each. I am surprised because i know her, I know her children, she pretends she doesn't see me even though she looked me straight in the eye. I let her. I give her that. I change my direction and walked the other way.

Panhandlers are pandemic in the city of Toronto, they are everywhere on every street corner, in the subway, in the trains, in the malls, at the bank, in the park from every walk of life, culture, ethnicity, every age, class and gender. Each have a story, what their individual story is I don’t know (It’s so easy to judge, so tempting to criticize, to turn up one’s nose in disgust and distain), what I do know is they are all somebody’s mother, father, brother, sister, cousin, uncle, child, husband, wife, grandmother, grandfather, son, and daughter. I pass and I pray, I see and I wonder, I hold myself accountable by preventing the judgmental thoughts ready to cast aspersions and I pray not only for them, I pray for me and I am ever mindful of my blessings.

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