I don’t have a perfect moment today, but rather a weird one. I hope my dozen or so readers won’t be annoyed by this. I expect the perfect moment to return tomorrow. Then again, who knows what the universe has in store for me.
I was walking toward the Eglinton subway station, just having had my guilty fill of a Harvey’s hamburger (I had coupons), and pretty much minding my own business. There were lots of construction going on and a fire truck had just made its noisy way through the intersection. There was a lot of street construction in progress, so my attention was naturally drawn there.
There were lots of people darting in and out, but most of the traffic was following the same flow pattern as I was. Most of us were heading toward the station. In front of me and to the right was an attractive woman who had decided she no longer needed a hood and decided to brave the above zero temperature for the last two hundred metres. Behind me and to the left were a bunch of young “gentlemen” jostling and kidding each other. One had a raspy voice that singled him out.
Suddenly…perhaps not so suddenly, a woman headed towards me and asked for two dollars.
I really didn’t know how to react, and my mouth could not form words. I am pretty sure I gave her a confused look as I silently passed her.
Of course this was not my first instance of meeting someone begging for money. I have seen that plenty of times in plenty of places. I even met multilingual beggars in Europe whose ability to utter those sentences puts many of my students to shame–if not for accuracy, at least for pronunciation. Usually, the people asking for money are standing still and holding a sign. This was only the second time someone has approached me in Toronto. The previous time the man asked for money for a coffee. I offered him a coupon valid for free coffee at a shop less than 20 metres away. He then asked for money for a hamburger. I left that one confused as well.
As for today, I wonder why the woman picked me rather than the attractive woman in front of me. She certainly looked like she had more money than I did, and I have no doubt that her face was kinder than mine.
In fact, when I got to the stoplight the attractive woman was still there. We discussed the incident and her only memorable comment was that “she looked normal.”
I certainly don’t think I handled the situation correctly, but I don’t know what would have been better.
Any thoughts or recounts of incidents would be helpful.