5 More Minutes Please!!!


This is Adam. 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.


I trust you!


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.

Chubby Girls CAN Run!

At my last Momondays speaking event, I shared my fear of running for the bus. I have missed a hundred buses and subways for fear that I’d sprint up to the door only to have a mean driver slam the doors shut while everyone points and says “oh, look at the chubby woman run”. No, I can’t do it.

This morning I entered Royal York Station and I was walking down the stairs next to a young, blonde girl in her early 20’s. She was extremely plump and cute. We were at the top of the stairs when we heard the train come in. All of a sudden she started to hustle down the stairs. I was surprised and thought, you will never make this girl. She awkwardly, painfully pushed on, out of breath, running at a slow pace… I quickened my pace because I had to see what would happen. When she reached the bottom of the stairs, the chimes rang out and I knew the doors would close in a second. Unbelievably she started to sprint. I was amused and impressed with her optimism. When she finally reached the doors, they slammed in her face. Good try I thought. A second later, the doors opened and she excitedly ran on. I was getting closer and there was a black operator in his early fifties with dark glasses and a cap. I smiled at him and nodded and said, “that was nice”. He stared at me expressionless and then slowly nodded in acknowledgement of my praise.

I don’t know if I was happier that she ran fearlessly, with no inhibitions, or that there was someone kind enough to reward her effort. Feel good morning on the TTC.

An Inexpensive High


On Saturday night Lily and I were on our way into Diner 120 to watch comedy. A smiling black gentleman approached and said “I’m so sorry to ask – I’d really like to get a coffee, I’m so cold and I don’t like to bother anyone. I don’t like to ask often so please forgive me”. He was kind of charming and very humble. We stopped to chat for a minute and I told him I didn’t think I had any change…. as I was searching he was just smiling sweetly. Finally I pulled out a bill as that’s all I had. He started to beam and he looked at Lily and said “you get your good looks from your mother, you are so lucky…. you are still growing into your beauty but your mother… she is beautiful and radiant”! Then he smiled at me and said, “I am full of love right now, you have made me feel loved, thank you so much”… awwww…..As we walked into the restaurant Lily rolled her eyes at me. I was smiling cockily.

I’ve started to realize that for only a few bucks someone can feel so amazing, and that in turn makes me feel amazing, and that’s a pretty inexpensive high

I’m good thanks, I’m trying to cut down.


A month ago I was at Dwayne Morgan II’s Soul Slam with my daughter Lily. Last year’s winner Charmie Deller came onstage and Lily fell in love! When we got home, she found her on Instagram and has spent the last month singing her songs around the house – obsessively! Charmie became her Justin Beiber.

Last night I got onto the subway at Broadview around 9pm. I noticed this young,cool girl, head bent over her guitar and I thought *maybe* it was her. I slowly put my phone up, waiting for the perfect second to not so discretely snap a pic. Then I heard this very gentle voice, ‘did you just take a picture of me”? lol… “um… uh…. um, yes?” lol. I asked her name and when she confirmed she was indeed Charmie, I told her my daughter was her biggest fan. I then sang her signature song lol. THANK GOD she was gracious about it, and flattered. We clicked a few pics, she gave me her upcoming performance schedule and then she said, “Does she smoke weed – because she can come to see me perform at 420 day and be in my video”. Being the cool mom that I am, I said, “yes”. When I got home I told Lily, ‘you just show up and say, I’m good thanks, I’m trying to cut down”.

Great times on the TTC.

The Next Chapter


Last year I wrote a speech that I competed with. I’ve told that story many times – it’s the story of a homeless man telling me that i look and smell beautiful – that he loves everything about me… and then he asks me to go for a hotdog in the park. I agree to meet him the next day, and then a street guy runs over and tells him “if you have a lighter, I’ll give you a toke”, and my guy up and bolts. I joke that my dating life is so bad that i can’t even get the homeless guys to commit.

Anyway, last night as Lily and I left Harlem, I ran into him!!! His name is Adam, and I was so excited to get a picture. I told him I wrote a speech about him. He has schizophrenia and he’s addicted to crack and he’s rarely coherent. He was really excited about the speech, and then he said… oh ya, how is your pillows? This stunned me, because a year ago I ran into him after I purchased some pillows from Homesense. He was so high and out of it. I gave him a few bucks and he didn’t even remember the hot dog story, and yet, on this night, he remembered the pillows?

I don’t know why, but I have a soft spot for Adam. So glad to have another chapter in our book.

My name is Claire.

Today I was on the subway heading into work. There was a disheveled woman in her early forties, plump with scraggly blonde hair and huge baggy jeans. She walked up and down the aisle repeating “My name is Claire, can I please have some money for food, I’m hungry. My name is Claire, can I please have some money for food, I’m hungry”. For some reason this made me smile. When she got to me I said, “Claire – how is your day”. She said, “not good, I’m hungry”. I said… ‘then I’m going to help you because I really like your marketing strategy”. She looked at me suspiciously but relaxed when I gave her some money. “I’m Claire, and I’m hungry” she repeated. “Yes, I totally get that” I said. She stared at me blankly for a second and then continued on her way, repeating her line.

Whether you are running a 7 figure business, or hustling for change – everything is marketing. She personalized her pitch by announcing her name. She pitched her problem. She was hungry. And she had the solution. Just give he some money. Short, and direct lol.

Mystery Solved

Yesterday I was on the Queen Street replacement bus. If you know anything about the TTC, you no longer have to show your pass when you board a streetcar, however you are required to do so on a bus. We stopped at Sherbourne and a black man with dreads got on. I could tell he was a little out of it but he stood at the door shuffling in his pocket. He asked the driver if he had change for a $5 bill. I was super interested in this because i could tell he probably didn’t have a $5. I guess the bus driver realized this also because he said, “You know I don’t make change AND where is this $5 bill”??? A woman who just stepped on asked if she could swipe her presto card but the driver said you couldn’t swipe twice in a row. The man started to walk down the centre with his hand out trying to collect change for his fare. A kind man gave him a token. He then turned and tried to sell this token to the kind woman who had offered to swipe presto. She was aghast and said, “HE GAVE YOU A TOKEN, GO PAY”. The man returned to the front and paid. He then asked a few people for change before sitting beside me.

“Can you spare change”? he asked…

Now, I almost always give change but I felt annoyed with this man and said no. A minute later I said, ‘ this was extremely impractical of you…. had you waited a minute for the streetcar, you could have entered without paying a fair…you just wasted someone’s generosity…. this doesn’t make sense to me”. He smiled shyly and nodded in agreement. “No, really” I continued… “what was your thought process…. you just gave $3 to the TTC, that you need for yourself – how could you have not waited for a streetcar”???

He just smiled and then I started to feel guilty.

“Ok… listen, I’ll give you some change, but there is a cost to you”.

He looked perplexed.

“You need to explain your thought process. I need to understand for my own curiousity why you wouldn’t have waited a minute for the streetcar – I just need to know”.

We sat silently for a few minutes and then he said….

“I was cold”.

I handed him a $5 and got off.

I Look Like a Princess!


I walked into a store for voluptuous women. There was a happy smiling Nigerian woman standing in the middle of the store with her arms full. “I’ll take this one, and this one, and that one” she exclaimed excitedly. I was smiling and said “I love your shopping style, so enthusiastic”. We shared a moment and then I moved on.

Later I was in the change room staring disapprovingly at my reflection. I’ve gained a few pounds and I didn’t like what I saw. All of a sudden I heard my new friend Temi laughing gleefully from the change room beside me. I heard “oh my goodness I look like a princess” and a series of “I love this, I look beautiful”. We walked out together and I told her she was so inspiring with her positive self love. She laughed and said ‘I can’t lie, I looked beautiful”.

The salesgirl told us we were adorable and I had her take our photo to commemorate the moment. I told Temi about TTC Tales and she excitedly wrote down the address.

Perception is reality!

Truly Inspirational


I had coffee with this beautiful soul. He arrived from Nigeria with $200 in his pocket. I was shocked as he said he didn’t know anyone here, and didn’t have accommodations. I kept asking, ‘but what was your plan’?? He laughed and said he had no plan but he was so happy. He went into a shelter and worked for $9/hour doing back breaking labour lifting heavy steel that left him in extreme pain and within one month was in an apartment. Within 6 months his wife arrived with their son. The most heart breaking part of the story was when he told me about his wife having to work in the factory doing heavy labour. ‘I would bleed inside when I thought of her working’ he said. Awwww :( I looked at him with such admiration and respect. He is so happy and optimistic. He has taken courses, gotten his drivers license and has a vehicle – they are both working in comfortable jobs and building their life. I laughed and told him I failed my drivers license and given up. He smiled and said he had failed 4 times and yet there he was, driving! Truly inspirational.

Desperately Seeking George!


I was heading home in a late night Uber. My driver, Moses, mentioned he was from Uganda. I professed my deep love and appreciation for African people. His eyes got wide and he smiled and asked me why? Hmmm good question…I guess, because most of those that I had met had overcome great adversity and struggles and it had become woven into the fabric of who they were. There was so much pride and work ethic and respect and dignity and I just felt a connection, no explanation beyond that. I guess this answer released something in Moses because he pulled over a half a block from my house and spent 22 minutes telling me his story. He grew up in a village and no one had a vehicle. When his mother was ready to deliver him they had to bike over to another town to find someone with a car to return and bring her to the hospital. They were too late and he was born in the field. He told me about their extreme poverty and how he had no shoes and when there were special occasions his mother would go to the neighbour to borrow shoes from a boy named George. And then he cried and said he wished he could find George to thank him.

He made me feel so special!


I was on the subway coming home from downtown. There was a young Mexican male sitting behind me named Adrian. A burly older gentleman got on at Bathurst. He had a loud, booming voice almost like a drill sergeant. He asked the younger guy if he could sit and then I heard them in deep conversation for 10 mins. The drill serg had 20 questions – where is your family? Where do you work? How were your holidays? I was impressed with his ability to make conversation. When he got off at Jane I turned to the young guy and said ‘wow, that was impressive’! ‘I know’ he beamed… he went on to tell me how special it made him feel and how Xmas really brings out the best in people. We were laughing and taking selfies and when I turned around everyone was smiling at us. Yes, that’s how you connect with strangers lol. Most of us got off at Royal York and as I walked up the escalator two young guys standing beside me smiled and said ‘have a great holiday’ awwww I love these moments!


Lily and I were on a packed Queen bus, heading towards Yonge when I heard the commotion. Two black women, one in her thirties, another in her fifties, were storming towards the back of the bus, loudly proclaiming their disdain for the driver. I couldn’t hear the exact problem, but the younger woman was raging about a lack of customer service. Normally I shy away from outbursts on the ttc but I’m passionate about this topic. Our eyes met and I nodded in solidarity. “I don’t understand why people get into customer service, when they aren’t good with people” I shared. She emphatically agreed. “HELL YA”. She went on to explain that she asked the driver to lower the bus for her friend who had a bad back but the driver sighed loudly and did one little push at a time, while she kept telling him lower! “It’s one button – all he has to do is push it” she exclaimed. We were sharing our stories of frustration, and really, ttc drivers often infuriate me with their rudeness and lack of heart. Finally I said, “I love your assertive nature, it’s empowering”. She laughed and thanked me. She went on to explain that they both worked in a non-profit and they had to deal with problems every day and that they had to be tough and assertive to get their point across. Lily had jumped up initially to offer the older woman her seat, and she hugged her for the sweet gesture. As they left they gestured to Lily and said “you look like you are raising an assertive young lady also” and I must admit that I am:) Nice experience on the TTC.

Sweetheart Meter:)


I was at the Dundas Station when I saw an elderly homeless man sitting in the stairs with a sign. I was searching my purse for change with my back to him when I heard him say “Is that my sweetheart meter going off”? lol. I didn’t have much change but he was so adorable I felt inclined to pull out a $5 (something I rarely do). I said, “can I ask you something… if I had given you a cake, would you have liked that? (I’ll explain this someday). He said, “I SURE would”! lol. So adorable. We talked all about what kind of cake he liked, and then he told me that he’d been a teacher once, and that he’d spent $280K taking care of his mom in a home and when he lost her he had no one. He was so moved that I was listening to him that he started to cry and asked for a hug. He said, “no one ever sees me”. At that exact moment two young people came by and gave him sandwiches. He jumped up and told me I had changed his luck and he couldn’t be any happier.

Marketing 101

I left the bank at Queen and Church and a man approached me:

“Can you spare 25 cents”?

“I sure can” I said. I smiled and reached into my purse. “How are you doing’?

(He sees he has a live one now lol.)

“I’m ok, I’m just really trying to get a meal at McDonalds”.

I hand him a toonie.

“Ya, I’m really trying to get $10 to get a meal at McDonald’s”. he says.

“Well – here is $2 – that’s 8 times what you asked for, so you have to be happy with that outcome”.

He stares at me for a second. He starts to walk away and then turns towards me – “I wasn’t asking for the whole $10” he says, and shows me another toonie, “I was just trying to work towards that so I can get a meal”.

“I really liked your approach but it needs a little work”.

Now he is fascinated. He wants to walk away but he can’t bring himself to.

“You asked me for 25 cents and I thought, how can I possibly say no to such a humble request? As I reached for my money, you told me you were trying to get a meal. I’m already invested in the transaction and now I want to help you reach your goal. And then you say, you need $10 for McDonalds. Now I’m thinking, what are you getting, the McFilet Mignon? All of a sudden I have images of you getting high in the park and I lose my feel good moment. It’s ok, because the deal is done, but what happens when you see me next week, I’m less inclined to be a repeat contributor, you need to stay realistic”!

He is quiet for about 30 seconds and then he throws his head back and laughs loudly. “I’ll keep that in mind” he says, and then he’s gone.

My Soulmate?

As many of my close friends know, I envision my soulmate to be an African man, glasses, works in the non-profit world, spiritual, gentle and loving, less ego, more Stedman to my Oprah.

Yesterday after toastmasters I stepped on to the subway at Bathurst Station. At that very moment a handsome African man in a grey suit walked on as well. He sat across from me and stared directly into my eyes. After a minute he smiled at me. I smiled back. A minute later he moved seats to be closer to me. Yep I thought, this is really happening, cue our theme song, shit is about to get real!

My soulmate put his hand on my arm and smiled gently… ‘do you ever wonder if God really loves us’ he asked. Um…. not really I thought. ‘Do you want to find happiness in life’? Yes, yes I do. ‘Do you want to pray and be heard by God’ he asked wistfully.

I smiled at him and stood up for my stop. “Yes I will pray tonight and I’m certain I’ll be heard, it was nice meeting you”. As the train slowed he handed me his Watchtower brochure – Enlightening Visions of the Spirit Realm.
“Jesus loves you and so do I” he said.

I froze… images of us handing out brochures in front of the ttc clouded my mind….. just us and our two kids, going door to door every weekend, lovingly meeting the neighbours, just me and my Jehovah soulmate…. nope, can’t do it.

Damn, So close and yet so far away!

His Spirit Takes me!

Lily and I were sitting on a bench on the subway platform this past Sunday. Two uniformed TTC employees walked by, engrossed in conversation. One of the men was a chubby, black man in his late 40s’. After they passed, Lily turned to me and said “There is something about that guy I like. His spirit takes me”. I gasped and said, “OMG really? Me too”!!! I had just been thinking the same thing. “Lily… you don’t think this is astounding… that we are both connected to that guy.??? We need to go and tell him”. This became one of those moments where Lily rolls her eyes and pretends she’s annoyed, whilst jumping up and excitedly walking over with me.

“Mom – what are you possibly going to say” she asks… “why do we even have to do this”? I explained that how else are we going to end up with a TTC tale and that we couldn’t miss these opportunities. When we arrived in front of them, they looked at us almost annoyed. They were most likely expecting us to ask how we got to Yonge Street, but I launched into my speech.

“Maybe no one has ever stopped to tell you this, but you have amazing energy. There is something really special about you and we wanted you to know”. The guy laughed embarrassingly, and said “me”? He smiled and said “wow, thanks”… and then we quickly walked away. I didn’t have a whole lot left to say lol, but I felt that was enough:)

The Wave

I was on the Dundas Streetcar this morning. I was sitting in a single side seat, just past the back doors. I looked up to the front and there was a very young little boy sitting in a small stroller facing me. He had to be a year and a half. He probably didn’t even talk yet. He had long brown hair that wisped around his ears, light tanned skin, and big brown eyes. He was wearing green froggy pajamas and sat motionless with a book in his hands. Our eyes met and we held each others gaze. I smiled with my eyes but wasn’t animated otherwise. For some reason we just stared at each other for at least 10 mins. He never fidgeted or made any single movement and then it happened. He put his little hand up and waved. I was taken aback and smiled. I waved back. He never smiled, but continued to stare into my eyes. We were quite a distance from each other and I hadn’t realized he was even focusing on me. Another 10 mins passed and then I reached my stop. As I moved to the door I lost sight of him for a second. Out of curiousity I stepped back and looked towards him. He was still looking directly into my eyes. He put his little hand up again and waved slowly. I waved back and then I was gone. I smiled about this all the way to work. I swear sometimes our souls recognize each other.

It’s Never Over

On Thanksgiving day Lily and I were taking the subway out to Scarborough to visit friends. The train was empty except for a young man with a shaved head and red beard. He looked over at us and I noticed he was trying to speak to me. He said “I apologize if I’m staring over there”. I noticed he clenched his jaw and twisted his neck. I smiled and said it was ok. He closed his eyes for awhile and then looked at me in agony and said, “are you ok – I should have asked how you two are”? Without saying a word, Lily and I got up at the same time and walked over to sit beside him. I’m always extremely proud of Lily, and she sat right beside him. We could tell he was in withdrawal and he was really hurting.

I asked him about what he was going through. He was making a lot of spastic movements and he struggled to tell us about his torment… He said that he had fucked up his life… destroyed his dreams… ruined everything… that he just wanted to die. I asked him a bunch of questions about rehab and recovery, and the catalyst for relapse. “It’s over for me” he said. I told him about my life… my mistakes… my rock bottom… my lowest of lows… and said, ‘it’s never over, it’s never too late, you can turn things around’.

We got off at Warden Station together… and he walked off ahead quickly before turning around suddenly and bursting out “thank you so much, you mean a lot to me”, and then Lily hugged him.

Beautiful REAL moment on the TTC.

You Just Need to Show up!

I was riding the Spadina streetcar down to Queens Quay to see my trainer. I was busy trying to talk myself out of training when I noticed a a man in his 40’s, maybe 5’6, long red hair in a pony tail, wearing yoga pants, a big orange t-shirt and a fedora. He was struggling to get on with one of those pushable carts that wasn’t cooperating. He cursed and finally asked a woman to move over so he could sit close enough to hold it. She was a mid forties Asian woman with unruly hair and bright red lipstick. A minute later the man noticed his seatmate holding a scratch ticket. He excitedly told her “wow, once I had that ticket and I had ALL OF THE VOWELS and I still didn’t win”. She looked at him in complete silence, slowly turning her head to face straight ahead and putting the ticket in her bag. This didn’t deter him… “ya.. I had a friend win $15,000 playing that”. Again, dead silence. The woman looked down. I was sitting across from him, about 5 seats away. I felt this overwhelming frustration with her for not even acknowledging him. How hard would it have been to just smile and nod? I was too far away to naturally get into the conversation but the man was looking around intently at everyone and when his gaze reached mine I smiled. The man did a double take, and now seeing he had a receptive audience, spoke again to the woman but even louder. “You can’t win, if you don’t play”!!! Someone got off so I moved to a closer seat. Asian woman – no response. He looked to me for validation and I said, ‘you got that right! But that applies to all of life, you just need to show up”. He nodded silently, and said “True, true” .. and then reflectively went on “I gotta remember to show up”. The Asian woman looked at him and SMILED. Success.

and other stories of random human connection…

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