Day 210: Cold comfort

panhandlerNarrowly escaped a good-deed faux pas today. It was brutally cold in Toronto (minus 21 C with wind chill factored in) — so cold it made your eyes water.

As I walked from the subway downtown, I spotted a man wearing a shabby parka, hood pulled way up, holding a paper cup.

He was standing on the corner, back against the building. I kept thinking how freezing he must be standing there trying to rustle up some spare change from passersby.

So I pulled some coins from my pocket and as I approached him, about to put the money in his cup, he took a sip from it.

Then I noticed the cigarette in his other hand. The guy wasn’t a panhandler at all. He was only standing outside the office building on a smoke break.

Slipped hand back in pocket and kept walking. Close call.

Meanwhile, a few blocks away ….
I saw someone who was not outside voluntarily.

A young guy with ginger hair and shaggy beard was sleeping on the pavement wrapped only in a light sleeping bag. His arms were outstretched, bare hands likely getting frostbitten.

Sitting above his head was a cardboard coffee shop tray and several empty Tim Horton’s cups. I walked around him, bent down and put some money in the tray. He didn’t move.

I didn’t know what else I could do. As I left I saw someone else walk over and put something in the tray. Still so cold it made my eyes water….

P.S. “Long, Long Time,” a warm blast from the past:


2 thoughts on “Day 210: Cold comfort

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