There is a woman who sits in a wheelchair at Bathurst and Bloor. She is missing her legs and fingers and teeth. She chants “change, change, change” frenetically. There is something about her that makes me feel uncomfortable… guilt? stress? anxiety? I’m not sure but I just know that I have avoided that corner so I am not confronted with those feelings. My mission is not so much to give change, but rather to treat people with dignity and acknowledge them. I’ve been frustrated by my ability to do so with her because of my own insecurities.
Yesterday I took a deep breath and walked over. I didn’t have much change… maybe 80 cents, and so I said… “sorry, I don’t have much” and handed it to her. She smiled broadly and said, “oh honey, that’s ok, trust me, it all adds up and thanks so much”. I was so taken aback. I wasn’t expecting her to be so… articulate, or positive. She usually stares up to the left and chants repetitively and I kind of thought she was out of it. I asked her how her day was and she said, ‘honey, I can’t complain, I’m alive and people are generous”. I smiled and told her I loved her attitude and then was on my way.
That’s been on my mind since then. So many people locked away in their own personal hell of poverty and homelessness and mental issues and addiction, but they are real people in there.