I was out of my last screening at Montréal’s Wold Film Festival today and on my way home. Just next to the Métro station’s door, sat a homeless man.
Up to here, nothing special. No Blog material.
I don’t give money to homeless people.
Homeless people can be seen everywhere in Montréal… Either sitting on the sidewalk waiting for people to leave loose change in an empty cup or a dirty baseball cap. Others prefer to walk around in crowds and ask for money.
Homeless people make me sad. I don’t want to pity them, because it gives me the impression we take their dignity by doing so. But it does make me sad to see young adults that could very easily work and make a living, getting and apartment and all… I don’t like seing women begging, because I can only imagine how harsh their lives must be, being so vulnerable… And I hate to see elders that are just fading on a sidewalk.
Now, I bet you still have that sentence on your mind; “I don’t give money to homeless people”. Why not?? You’re doing alright, why not share with the most needy?
I didn’t say I didn’t give. I don’t give money. It might sound like I generalize, but a lot of homeless people give priority to alcohol and drugs… And I couldn’t really blame them. So I prefer offering food. If the person asking me for money is hungry, I’ll offer to go to the nearest grocery store or convenience store, and I pick them a few things… If I have a few minutes to spare, of course.
Today, I stopped in front of the man near the subway entrance. I told my white lie (I don’t have change, I just use my cards). I saw that he already had a brown bag and an iced coffee by his side, so I switched to my second weapon of choice, a cigarette. I’ve never talked to a homeless person who didn’t smoke.
The man accepted the cigarette with a large smile. We engadged into a conversation… Mostly small talk, but it didn’t matter… It was a nice exchange, and I realize how rare it must have been for him to have pedestrians stop and chat. He told me about the man who had given him his lunch.
- He went to Tim Horton’s and got me a sandwich and an iced mochaccino… He spent 11$ on me, you know?
He asked for my name and his smile spread even larger… His sister had the same first name. He made a comment about my hair, and we chit chatted a few minutes. His warm brown teeth smile was a so genuine that I wonder who enjoyed the talk the most.
I was running out of time, chéri was waiting for me for supper… But one thing stricked me. I had been kind of rude, not asking for his name, when he asked for mine.
- And what is your name, sir?
He paused. I immediately understood that it wasn’t a question he heard often enough.
- John… My name is John!
At that moment, I told myself that without even meaning to, I had turned him from John Doe, to just John. And sometimes, less is just better. We shook hands, and I told him it was lovely meeting him, which it really was. He asked me if I lived in the neighbourhood, and I told him I didn’t… But that I came in the erea every once in a while…
- We might meet again then…
We very well might, John…. And it will be a pleasure!