There’s this one guy, drunk old rummy, sells the homeless rag outside the LCBO. He’s a local character. Shouts at most everyone walking by. Shouted at me too, until I stopped one day and bought one of his papers. Now he simply nods and smiles, shares a joke: “Some days you get the elevator, some you just get the shaft.”
How do I know he’s a rummy? Well, there’s the sour wave of stale alcohol that hits you when you stop to talk to him. That’s one clue. Then there’s his wet eyes, the blue washed out like old denim. And the slurring when he’s already deep into the Mickey he bought this morning after a busload of tourists swept past him on their way to the market and dumped all their Canadian change into his hand. I guess today he got the elevator.
But at least he performs a useful community service. His insults keep the tourists down a little. And what he shouts at the young hipster couples, who I suspect are being turned out in their thousands by a small hipster manufacturing plant somewhere in The Annex, what he shouts at their backs, or to their faces, is what the rest of us are thinking. What the rest of us wish we could shout. If we didn’t have to be clean, sober and respectable. “Hey buddy, lost your razor? No? I guess it was just your personality then.”
So I don’t count him. I’m paying him off, paying him for my silence.
No, I don’t mind him. It’s the Binder People I can’t stand: beggars for charity. Chuggers they’re called in the UK, Charity Muggers. It’s their pert self righteousness I can’t stand. “Do you want to help Sick Kids?”
Well, how sick are they? Are they really sick, or do they just have a heavy cold? Because I’m only prepared to help the really sick ones.
“Do you want to help Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Because I am a Girl? Doctors without Borders?”
Well hell, yes I do. I have what I like to call a ‘harassment based’ charitable donation strategy. I’ll help the cause that hunts me down the most assiduously. The one that waits outside the door of my condo and pounces on me even before my feet hit the sidewalk. Even the homeless have the good grace to let you leave the building.
This rant comes to you courtesy of Sue Reynolds’ writing sanctuary, in which she challenged me to write a piece from the following prompt. “I never give money to homeless people. I can’t reward failure in good conscience.” Thank you Sue.