I'm not your bitch, don't hang your shit on me.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Seeing myself in his eyes

At the corner of Queen of Spadina, the cars zoom by and through the large intersection. There are several lanes of traffic that make it almost impossible to cross the street in the allotted time before the hand signal appears and flashes to remind pedestrians they only have 15 seconds before the light changes from green to red.

While I wait for the signal to cross, a man walks up to me. He’s scruffy, wearing shorts and a t-shirt, with a backpack slung on his back.

“Can I ask you a question?” he asks in a quizzical manner.

“Sure,” I reply. Great, I think, I hope he isn’t one of those crazies and starts talking to me about Jesus.

“Can you spare even a penny?” he looks at me, exasperated when he says penny.

“I don’t know if I can.” I scrunch up my face in confusion. I wasn’t chastising him for the misuse of the word can versus the word may - I really didn’t know if I had a penny to spare. My wallet was in my briefcase because I didn’t want to carry it in the pocket of my slacks due to the fact that it protrudes an inch outwards.

As I dig into my briefcase to search for my wallet, I wonder why I’m doing this. I don’t give money to anyone I know - whether family or friends - because I never see it again. I also never give money to panhandlers. The last time I did this, I said I would offer them a coffee. They declined and said they wanted money. They didn’t get anything; beggars can’t be choosers.

But, then I know why I’m doing this… I’m him.

True, I look nothing like him. He’s in need of a shave and some new clothing while I’m coiffed and wearing a tailored suit. He’s about 80 pounds heavier than I am and his features would only resemble mine in the dark.

So, why? It’s the way he asked for the penny.

For too long, I’ve been fighting for a chance for a chance at anything. Not many people know what’s been going on in my life for years (and I don’t want those who know to mention it to anyone). This struggle is ongoing and feels like it’s not going to end any time soon.

Why should others have things so easy while I have it so hard? Is it to prove my inner strength? I'm resiliant and have bounced back more times than a rubber ball. But, why should I prove it to myself when I have to prove it to others?

After a while, I get tired of these obstacles. I don’t want to fight. I get exhausted from fighting. The exhaustion becomes desperation, and both are reflected in my eyes. Give me a chance, they say. Just one chance, and let me prove to you that I can do it.

I find my wallet and look inside. There are quite a few TTC tokens, but they’re probably worthless to this guy. There are a few nickels and dimes, but I pull out a dollar that I was going to use to buy a coffee.

After I shut my briefcase, I look at his hand. He opens it and I put the dollar on the palm. He looks at me and I look back. I'm seeing myself in his eyes. It feels as if I'm helping myself because he's another version of me; different body, similar circumstances.

“Thank you,” he says.

“No problem.”

When the light changes from red to green, I walk across the street and don’t look back.

Hopefully things will change for the better, for both of us.

Note: Sorry for the depressing post before the weekend, but I felt like it best represents my current state of mind.


Blogger Kelly said...

not a depressing post, but a real one... sometimes it is good just to help others no matter if they need it or not.. you did a good thing.. and I would probably have done the same.. good Karma...

August 10, 2007 12:10 am  
Blogger Eric said...

Maybe helping him was actually somehow helping you. Whatever the case, I understand. I don't know your situation so I doubt it compares, but I went through a period in my life of real upheaval and I spent a lot of time wondering how I got into this situation and how to get out of it...

August 10, 2007 8:00 am  
Blogger Chris said...

I never give anyone money on the street because in NYC, that means you're a tourist.

I hope things are looking up for you.

August 10, 2007 8:45 am  
Blogger Steven said...

For those who are wondering about my negativity in the last few posts, this might explain a little of what's going on.

August 10, 2007 1:10 pm  
Blogger Christopher said...

Hoping that those "winds of change" start blowing for you!...does that sound sexual?...good!

August 10, 2007 2:33 pm  
Blogger Lewis said...

I think that I need to get you alone for about a week....just you and me.....chatting, carrying on like crazy people, listening. I've seen a side of you that I wasn't aware was there in this post. I like it. A lot. Reminds me of this little piece from last year. Wishing you happiness.

August 10, 2007 9:40 pm  
Blogger RomanHans said...

Do you take requests? Next time, give the guy a penny and write about what happens. I'd do it myself but I can barely outrun employed people.

August 14, 2007 10:40 am  
Blogger the cat's meow said...

is this some new phenomenom or something? i had the same thing happen to me last month (you can read about it). weird.

August 14, 2007 11:32 am  
Blogger madamerouge said...

Admit it: you were afraid of getting stabbed

August 14, 2007 8:57 pm  

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