The Native Panhandler – 3pm
Walking around with a giant garbage bag in my hand was not comfortable at all. I wasn’t bothered by how I was viewed by others, but my bag started to rip and every few minutes I had to stop and switch hands because my hand was getting tired. Luckily, I found myself another shopping cart to simplify my journey a bit. While being in the downtown eastside, I decided walk along the Granville Strip to purchase some pizza.
When I arrived, the sidewalks were filled with people carrying multiple shopping bags in each hand. Now picture a smelly, impoverished homeless man pushing a shopping cart through the middle of the crowd. That man was me and I was hungry too.
A few minutes before I reached my destination, my stomach began to growl. I pulled out one of my Special K granola bars that were given to me earlier and started eating it while pushing my cart through the maze of people. As I continued walking a panhandler started to point in my direction. I looked behind me to see whether he was pointing at someone else or not. When I looked back, he waved me over to where he was sitting on the pavement begging for change.
As I changed the direction of my shopping cart, I started to split the stream of the Boxing Day crowd with it. When I pulled to the side, this Native panhandler asked me whether I was hungry. I certainly was. My stomach was empty and I was heading to grab some pizza. He reached back for a brown paper bag and offered it to me. “Here you can have my poutine. I am not able to finish it.”
I was floored. A panhandler who is begging for money is willing to give me his poutine because he knew I was hungry. Wow. That is the equivalent of a millionaire giving $800,000 to a stranger that was in need, without giving it any thought. Talk about an earthquake shattering challenge to the stereotypes that are alive in the minds of many today. The middle and higher classes of our society can learn some valuable lessons on how to live as a community through these examples.
I kindly rejected his offer. I did not come to the Eastside to take advantage, trick or use anybody here. I had money in my pocket, which was donated by some generous people and I was going to buy myself some food with it. Once I reached the pizza joint, I ordered myself two slices of pizza, stretched out my hand to receive the change, only to have the cashier toss the change onto the table instead of dropping it into my hand. This story was partly aired during my interview with CityTV.