Readers of this blog may remember something I posted back in February, about a certain homeless guy. That post was based on Danny. Danny haunted the spot outside the LCBO on Front Street, right next to The St. Lawrence Market. He had an unfortunate and often mutually abusive relationship with alcohol, so he wasn’t always exactly sober, and he had a habit, when a little oiled up, of shouting strange and often unintelligible things at the tourists who cluster around the market. He was always especially flustered on Saturday, when the neighbourhood is invaded by weekenders on the hunt for artisanal cheeses and breads, and fancy meats from Spain and Italy.
Danny was on my direct route to Starbuck’s, so I couldn’t avoid him on my daily coffee run. I generally tried to buy a paper from him every week, although sometimes his memory would fail him and he’d give me my money back and tell me I’d already bought one this week, which was never the case (my memory is pretty good about that stuff). On the other hand he often sold me a paper he’d sold me before, because his stock was a little ‘distressed’. Over the last seven years or so we’d struck up an odd kind of friendship. When I asked him his name, so I’d be able to use it, he said there was no point in exchanging names, as he’d never remember mine. He called me ‘lad’, ‘boss’ or ‘chief’ depending on his mood.
Danny died, ten days ago. Since then there has been a constant tribute to him on Danny’s corner. Sometimes this includes full cans of his favourite beer. The other evening, walking home, Natalie and I noticed a packaged apple pie on Danny’s chair. The next morning, Natalie tells me, it was gone.
To most people he was just some random homeless guy, selling the homeless guy rag outside the LCBO. But it’s clear to me, simply from the tributes and the response to his death that it has left a hole. As humble as Danny was, he was an important part of the community around here and he is badly missed by those (and there were a lot of us) who used to stop and chat, buy his paper, pet his many dogs (that was one of his jobs — dog sitting).
He leaves behind Tank, the old black lab that was always at his side. If anyone can give Tank a home you can call Animal Services on 311, as per the sign. Natalie and I would love to have him, but our condo is too small, and my allergies won’t allow it. Cruelly, the animals I love the most (dogs) are the animals I’m most allergic to.
I’m going to miss Danny. He’s an ever-present reminder that we don’t need to be rich, powerful or famous to touch people’s lives. We can even do it by standing rain, snow and shine, on a street corner, selling a homeless guy’s rag.