Today, my "regular guy" (to whom I give my spare change at Stadium Station) was not around. Another man approached me as I entered the shelter of the station. He was a bit shorter than me, had a slightly hunched back and spoke almost meekly, in a gentle and somewhat highly-pitched voice.
He excused himself, called me sir, and asked if I could spare some change, which I was happy to do. His face was covered with small marks and he had two nasty looking red, wet sores across the bridge of his nose.
"What happened to your nose?" I asked him. It looked as though someone had hit him in the face with something hard.
He answered , but I couldn't quite understand his reply - something about skin, allergies, or god-knows-what. I suggested that maybe he should see a Doctor. He told me how he was supposed to see one at VGH, but that he would have to get a ride there.
I felt quite bad for him, and could only tell him to take care of himself, and then say goodbye. Poor bugger.
* * * * * * * *
Exiting Commercial Station, I walked out onto Broadway amidst a loud commotion - some kind of protest or rally at the corner of Broadway and Commercial. Lots of voices were shouting and chanting, and three people were holding up signs which had pictures of the large heads. I was behind them, but guessed correctly that one of them would have to be Gordon Campbell. There are a lot of pissed off people living below the poverty line in Vancouver.
I was starting to drift closer towards the crowd, hoping to hear the chants more clearly and figure out what it was all about, when a man with a clipboard started to approach me. He asked me if I would like to sign a petition against the Premier's Welfare policies. Then he asked if I would buy one of his newspapers ("It's by donation. Maybe a toonie...").
"You're the seventh person to sign today" he told me. I glanced at the short list of names to check. Yup. Damn - that's pretty slim pickins.
"How long have you been out here doing this?" I asked him.
"Since six this morning."
"Oh my god." Talk about commitment! "Here's a toonie."
"It's one of my back issues.
"Thank you very much brother."
"Take care man."
It was indeed a back issue (from January 1996), but how could I not? Christ - this guys was making more of a physical effort at getting his petition signed than I did at my paying job today!