Posts Tagged ‘beggars’

My last post, I Don’t Take Pennies got me thinking about other ‘street urchins’ I have come across.  Not all of the following are necessarily homeless, but they qualify.  After page three of my first draft I realized that this topic was too long for one post so I’ve broken it up into three segments, (so far).  Hope you enjoy.

The corner of Van Horn & Victoria in Montreal Quebec is a cultural melting pot, often times the older Jews and Italians can be seen standing on the corner solving the worlds problems, One block is home to many Jews, another is the Vietnamese, The Greek’s live up the street, the blacks down on the other side.  There are the Indians, (from India, not native Americans)…in short, the rainbow of skin tones is always in full bloom. There are no less than four bus stops, a metro station, a school, a strip mall, magic shop, bakeries, drugstores banks, dollar stores and restaurants of all ethnic styles.  It really is a wonderful thing.  Of course with that comes the cast of characters’:

The Walrus:  My brother gave him this name.  He is a very large, very dirty, Walrusy type of fellow.  He does have a tooth, it is round and pointed and sticks out of the center of his mouth.  He was often found just standing at the corner, just standing.  For all I know he is still there, odds are however he is no longer alive. Much to my horror I walked into the Jewish Bakery and there he was behind the counter.  The woman in front of me asked him for a challah, (type of bread) and she wanted it sliced.  He reached down picked up a twist tie and put it in his mouth like it was a toothpick. He reached up with his grubby hand and took down a wonderful looking fresh Challah loaf and placed it into the slicer.  He never thought to put on gloves so I was already shuddering.  He then slid the bread off the slicer and into the plastic bag.  He then took the twist tie out of his mouth and used it to seal the bag.  As he turned around the lady left, I left and so did the two people behind me.

Benny Hill:  Benny Hill looked exactly like Benny hill and he would walk up and down the street I never heard him say a word, I never even saw him stop.  He would walk all hunched over wearing the same tan button down shirt and brown pants.  What made Benny interesting was his shadow. An elderly lady, presumably his mother would always follow him from a respectable distance.  They never spoke when I saw them, never even acknowledged one another and it took some time for me to realize that they were connected, but where ever Benny went, mom was sure to follow.  It did happen one day that I passed Benny on the street and mom was nowhere to be seen.  I waited but she never appeared.  I continued to see Benny but I never did see his mother again.  I’m thinking she must have been watching from above.

Spare Change: This lady was on a mission, she knew exactly what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to ask. “Excuse me, can I have two dollars and thirty seven cents?”  The next time would be different, “Excuse me, can I have 41 cents?” Once she stopped me on the cross walk…’Excuse me, can I have seven dollars and twelve cents?”


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I Don’t Take Pennies

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts Perfect Magic Vancouver was located up stairs in a strip mall.  At the bottom of the steps just outside the door our resident beggar always sat on the little stoop asking for change. 

It was a beautiful summer day, nice and cool, the type of cool you get after a rainstorm.  I opened my two windows as wide as I could, breathing in the crisp air. 

 Through my open window I heard the beggar speak, “Excuse me Sir, could you spare some change?”  In my mind I could see her holding out her styrofoam coffee cup jingling the few coins, her cigarette in her free hand, (she didn’t care much about the smoking ban).

Much to my surprise the voice responding voice was Shawn Farquhar’s.  Those of you who know Shawn can tell you his voice is unmistakable as is his manner of speech.  And he is a very giving person. 

I rolled my chair over to the window and peered through the slats in the blinds.  Sure enough there was Shawn digging through his pockets and asking the beggar about her day.  He spent a few minutes chatting and started towards the door that leads to the steps to the magic shop.  As he was about to open the door the beggar calls back to him.

 “Excuse me Sir, thank you very much but I don’t take pennies”.

“Excuse me?”

“Here Sir, you can have your pennies back.”

Shawn looking like a deer in the headlights


“No Sir, pennies are too much to keep track of and they weight too much so I don’t take them. Here take them back.”

  Having sorted through the change and extracting the pennies and holding them out to Shawn

“B…but you are begging for change!  What do you mean you don’t take pennies?”

Holding out her hand with money, a beggar in reverse

“I don’t take them Sir”

“Well then give it all back!”

“I’ll take the silver it is the pennies I don’t want”

“But you are begging!  Did you know 5 pennies make a nickel? Why not keep the pennies and give me back my nickel?’

“Because, I told you Sir, I don’t take pennies!”

Shawn steps through the door and up the stairs into the magic shop only to be greeted by me with tears in my eyes from laughing so hard.

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