Good coffee, warm October air, sitting outdoors, relaxed, on a mini-vacation, living the dream.
On route to the Saint Lawrence Market, they were there on the periphery of my awareness, silent, dark, over dressed for the weather, always one of us looking away before eye contact could be made, their cardboard sign for help propped up on crossed legs, or held up by a can hoping for money.
He approaches from behind me, softly, tentatively “Do you have any change you might not need?” I resent the intrusion on my moment of perfect contentment, “No”. He walks away to approach others on the street.
Privileged by skin colour, and the country of my birth, I am have excellent health because of Canada's health care system and I am well educated because I have had access to free and good educated system. All of this has supported me in getting and holding down a well-paying job with benefits - to afford this vacation time.
The unfairness of my privilege pulls at me as I looked at the fading back of the racialized man seeking change from strangers.
I do have change I have two two dollar coins that were so insignificant to me that I tossed them in my pocket instead of my wallet.
I get up and followed after him. I find him a few blocks away, I apologize because I do have change I do not need and I hand him four dollars.
My conscious now appeased I go back to my friend and coffee without another thought to those who live at the periphery of my life.
More coffee and a couple of chapters in my book we get up to leave and go to the closest Variety Store and there I find him again scratching lottery tickets.
My first reaction is outrage and this is just as quickly replaced with compassion.
We all need to dream, to believe there is an escape from our lives when times are bleak and so does he.
Too often those of us in positions of privilege believe we have the right to dictate how our charity is used when in fact we have not right to say what another human being needs or wants are.
They know their needs and wants and ultimately they live with the consequences of their choices.
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully[a] will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" 2 Corinthians 9:6