Lily and I left the Dufferin mall when we noticed this man playing ball alone, maybe 5’7, so adorable in his cute little outfit!
Lily said awwww, imagine I went and played with him.
It took all her nerve but she made her way over. (I love when she pushes through the fear and has her own stories of human connection). She grappled with the ‘what if he doesn’t want to play with me’ fear, and I assured her of course he does!
Look at the smile on his face lol.
Yesterday I was on the King Street car, heading south from Broadview. There was a stressed woman with a french accent trying to find Degrassi Street. The driver was short with her but ushered her on, asking WHERE on Degrassi. She didn’t know but she had an address. She climbed on with all her luggage. I pulled up the address on my phone and told her to come and sit with me. I showed her where the stop would be and what streets to take to get to her destination. It was nothing. It turns out she is from France, and looking for her AirBnB.
The more touching part of this story is about the gentleman sitting in front of me. His ears perked up when he heard me helping her and he slowly turned towards me nodding and said “YOU are a good neighbour…. yes, you are a good neighbour”. He kept nodding and finally he leaned over to the woman and then pointed to me and said, ‘this is a good neighbour, you are lucky”.
When he got off, he walked to the front and slowly turned to me and lifted his hat, and then gave me a thumbs up, nodding slowly, and then stepped off.
Again – it was nothing… a tiny gesture… but the beautiful part of that, was that it was almost like his faith in humanity was restored.
This is Justin. I’ve written a speech about him. I’ve ran into him many many times on the street. I have a soft spot for him. He’s probably one of the most offensive people on the street that you could ever encounter. He is often foaming at the mouth, he has wild untamed hair (he just had it cut in jail in this pic), he has crazed eyes, and he’s incredibly aggressive. He will be up in your face asking for change and he doesn’t take no for an answer.
I ran into him last week at Queen and Victoria. I was sitting in the park after visiting a close friend at the hospital. I was feeling sad and lost in thought when he came and sat with me. He was a bit calm, but so high on drugs that his jaw was clenched and I could barely understand him. I started asking him questions… how long have you been on the streets, how much drugs do you buy a day, do you love anyone, do you have any friends etc.
He said his mom dropped him off on the streets when he was 4 years old and he had been alone and through this system his whole life. He buys $80 worth of crack a day… he has no friends, no one he loves or who loves him… he prefers to sleep on the street than in the shelter. And then I said…. are you ever happy… ever, one single moment … happy? He thought for awhile and said, no.
Finally I had to go and as I stood up he begged pleadingly, pleassseeeee 5 more minutes… I paused before sitting down. This happened 3 times before I could eventually get away.
Lily and I were on the subway this morning when I noticed a familiar man. He’s Asian, in his late forties, with bad teeth and he walks the cars approaching each person as he signals he is hungry while smiling and nodding. When he finally got to me I smiled and gave him a dollar and said a few words. There was a man who had just denied him sitting in front of me and he turned sharply to watch me, mesmerized and intrigued. Then he whispered “one time, I gave someone money and then I followed them and they bought drugs”! His eyes got wide. This made me laugh. “Yes, they usually do” I agreed. Now this man was staring at me intently, waiting for me to explain. I shrugged and said, ‘but, it only cost me one dollar and look how happy I made someone – what a good opportunity that was for me”. The man stared at me for about a minute and then loudly proclaimed “You are a such a nice woman”! He then shook my hand, and then Lily’s and introduced himself. His name is Ahmed. He just came here from Egypt. A Muslim converted to Christian. He had been trapped in the Army and desperately wanted to get away. His sister died of Cancer – God rest her soul and now he is in school to become a brick layer. He’s not married… but he’d like to meet a wife like me:)
In the end I asked if I could take his picture and he said, yes… I trust you lol. Oh sweet Ahmed.