ParkTales

 

The Panhandler  
 
Humour is definitely a tool of his trade
 
By Frances Sedgwick
True North Perspective

Frances Sedgwick's keen eye and ear for the human condition reveals the heart and soul of Parkdale in southwest Toronto, one of the country's most turbulent urban areas where the best traditions of human kindness prevail against powerful forces that would grind them down. True North Perspective proudly presents a column by writer Frances Sedgwick. Her critical observation combined with a tender sense of humour will provide you with something to think about ... and something to talk about.

18 March 2011 — On my way home from swimming I stopped at the liquor store to get a bottle of wine for an evening engagement.

 
As I left the store, there on the curb, was a cheerful, familiar, panhandler.  
 
Have a nice day, he said with a smile. 
 
Now I sometimes give a donation to this friendly, I assume needy, individual, but this day I only had my charge card since I was returning from swimming.
 
"Sorry mate I only have plastic today, do you take Mastercard?" I said with a chuckle.
 
He laughed and said you have to listen to this and told me the story of when he was "panning" on Bay Street in front of the "high end" bars. 
 
He said he would sometimes call out, "mastercard, visa, debit ..."  with a smile on his face.
 
One day someone actually stopped and seriously said, "Where is your machine?" 
 
The panhandler looked around and replied, "Geeze you can't turn your back for a minute, someone took off with my machine." 
 
A surprised look and then they both had a good laugh.
 
My panhandler friend said, "I did get donations just for my sense of humour."

 
I think of this Bay Street "story" every time I go up Bay Street in Toronto and see that Donald Trump building under construction with the advertisement, "This will be one of the most beautiful in Canada for 2.3 million dollars you can own a place here", my blood boils.
 
Just in front of this construction site I always see a homeless person on the hot air vent. 
 
One day I mentioned to a cop, who was guarding the premises, "I can't handle these million dollar condos all over the place and no affordable housing that would get this homeless person off the street.
 
He agreed and said, "Every vacant parking lot is a potential condo."
 
My Parkdale