Archives for: December 2007, 30


Permalink 12:00:01 am, by Email , 1833 words   English (CA)
Categories: Blog Your Blessings Sundays

Blog Your Blessings Sundays: 2007's Best

TIME IS RUNNING SHORT FOR ONE OLD RED BUS! Sure, we're still holding a family dream about our own One Old Green Bus, but we're very concerned over the fate of Barton Transport #512. It's not far from Chicago and $2,200.00 and some love will save it from being scrapped. Please consider saving this wonderful bus. Click here for details...

Blog yer Blessings

Fast away the old year passes... as the song says...


Anyway, I decided to go through all my old BYB posts for the last year and pick my favourites... five that I will link to... and one I'm re-posting...

So without further adieu, here's my "Top Six" starting with numbers 6 through 2 links...

#6: Time with my Sue...

#5: Loving Touches...

#4: Logic, Respect, and Common Sense...

#3: Peter Gzowski...

#2: Life...

...and #1...

All I want is a room somewhere, Far away from the cold night air.

I went grocery shopping on my lunch break at work on Wednesday... there's a large "upscale" grocery store not too far from the office and Sue asked me, despite the extra expense, to pick some things up for home... and in front of me, walking along Wellington Street were two women. Both were dressed rather nicely and warmly (it's been unseasonably cold in Toronto right now)... it was obvious by their lack of hurry and their conversation (which was clearly audible) that they had come from a lunch date with one of the women's husbands and were heading back to their car... probably to head home.

Unfortunately, my clothing is not-so-nice... but that's as much a factor of time constraints and personal taste (where to shop) as it is not having enough money to buy a new jacket, so since I was not dressed for the weather like them and rather cold, I breezed past them in order to shorten my trip. This is a fairly easy trick on the wide sidewalks downtown and didn't ruffle their feathers.

At the corner of Wellington and Yonge sat a young woman bundled up in ragged clothes and a sleeping bag. She was obviously homeless... or at least, not doing too well... she was dirty from the city's soot and smog and was shivering by a lamp standard with an old paper coffee cup in front of her with a couple of coins in it... she was hoping for spare change from passers by.

I reached into my pocket and dropped about $2.50 into her cup... not much, but it's what I can afford right now... I don't know if she thanked me or even noticed... really, that wasn't important... she wasn't openly soliciting for spare change save the cup with a few dimes in it and seemed far more concerned with staying warm than the activities or inactivities of passers by.

Once across the busy street, the two women were now on my heels after being able to catch up with me at the traffic light, they started in with what could only be described as a "stage conversation" for my benefit after they saw me toss my money into the cup...

"You know that she's strung out on something." one said.
"Giving them money only encourages them." said the other.

What neither of these two women could know is that the man in front of them who so foolishly parted with his coins was once almost in her position...

My mother and father had been married for many, many years... and I was, to say the least, a "problem child"... "troubled teen" perhaps would be better.

Either way, when my father suddenly passed away when I was seventeen, after some rough few months where my mother was in serious doubts about her future (which wasn't really too shaky as our father had provided well for us... he was an insurance executive after all,) I was given "the boot".

"I've done kids." were the last words I heard before heading out with the clothes on my back and really, little else.

I managed to "couch surf" with a friend for a few days... but ended up not being terribly welcome with his parents... and although it was foolish, I ended up lying when I knew my presence was becoming unwanted and saying I had a place to go... when I didn't... and yes, spent some time sleeping in parks.

Weirdly enough, I had too much pride to admit I needed a home and help from people and preferred self-imposed homelessness to being a burden.

I never panhandled during that time... I tried to earn what food I found by doing "odd jobs" or by offering to do help where I could in exchange for food... mow lawns, help move furniture, even carrying groceries for people.

Luckily, my "homelessness" didn't last too long (just a few weeks in the Summer,) and soon I was living with one of my sisters in her apartment...

After "settling in" with the sister, I managed to find my way back into school, a decent job, and eventually even start a career.

...but I will never forget how close I came...

...nor how much a small amount of money (even $2.50) would have meant to me during some of the colder and leaner days...

I won't lie to you... there ARE homeless folks who HAVE chosen that path for various reasons ranging from not wanting to live by certain rules to "habits" and "addictions" that led them there. There are some who didn't choose that path, but due to usually mental illness, there they are.

...more importantly, I found out that although a minority, there were a good number like me... roof over their head and food in their belly one day and through a twist of fate or something else, they are on the streets the next day.

I don't know what this girl's story was... I had to rush to accomplish my tasks and get back to my office and couldn't chat even had she wanted to... but I know that a lousy $2.50 is enough for a hot coffee and a small snack inside a nice, warm donut shop... and a respite from the lamp standard for a few brief minutes until the staff or management would kick her back out onto the street.

All those years ago, when I was in the park, I was dirty... cold... tired. I heard people comment when I was forced to be somewhat near them (I tried to avoid people until I could get to the public washroom and clean up a little)... and the words stung. "Get a job" was something I heard a couple of times... even though I hadn't elicited any "conversation". The folks who said it felt I was "benefiting" from their helpful advice, I 'spose... though both times, the words were not said as much spitted out with venom.

Get a job... with no bus fare, no clean clothes, dirty hair and body, empty stomach, little or no sleep, damp from dew... yeah, perfect conditions to apply for any position.

Oh, and how to contact me if they had an opening? Please find me in between Allens Gardens and Serena Gundy Park... on a hill, behind a few large birch trees that affords me some weak form of privacy and security when I'm sleeping. Oddly enough, being the 1980's, I didn't have a cell phone nor Wi-Fi internet access...

Granted, how many homeless folks have you seen nowadays with a laptop and flip-phone?

These two women I started talking about have the blessing which I'm about to mention... and don't realise it... I guarantee it. The young lady doesn't have my blessing... yet... I hope she finds it some day soon and I'm certain that, like me, she most likely won't take it for granted.

My blessing is the roof over my head and food in the fridge. I'm thankful to not be truly hungry... and to know that tonight, there's a warm home, warm family, warm pets... and a comfortable, if small place to lay my head.

I won't lie... I wasn't handed these things... I worked for them. I earned them... but if not for a bed-couch in an apartment with my sister, would I be where I am today?

I don't think those around me know how much these blessings of warmth and comfort mean to me... I was fortunate, I only stared into the eyes of the beast for a few scant moments... many don't have siblings or friends or anyone to rescue them and are stuck with their lot until someone gives them one ounce of stability to work from.

Maybe I was wrong... maybe my coins would be used for booze or drugs... maybe I'm encouraging to poor girl to stay in the street...

...or maybe, with that quarter change after her coffee and donut, she'll make a call to someone to help her out...

...or maybe she won't make a call, but will have a little food and warmth for a short time...

I'd like to think it will be one of the two latter choices... but who knows.

One thing though, after my own experiences and working since then when possible helping others in similar situations, (of course I've volunteered at homeless shelters and food banks,) it's the best thing I could do on that spot at that time to share my blessings.

One wonders what "blessing" the two women coming from their lunch shared that Wednesday and with whom? My only thought about them was, You have no idea... and honestly, I hope you never have to find out first hand.

...another thought occurred about the women too... I wonder if either of them have daughters... because that girl was someone's baby once... and is most likely still someone's daughter...

...and I don't know if I could stand knowing that one of my kids was in that position... but it they were, I hope someone would drop in that $2.50 for them.


For the record, my nasty story happened over twenty-years ago now... and I managed to finish college and soon I'll be announcing some goodly news about my current career*... and my mom and I mended fences long ago... but that's a story for another time...

* - Editor's Note: After publishing this, I announced my new (current) job.


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