Posts Tagged ‘Montreal’

Picking up from my last post,  Vancouver, like everywhere else has its share of characters.

The Sweeper:  he was an odd dude, nobody was sure about him.  He would just stand there. Now and again he would put his hand out.  Occasionally he would get upset if you didn’t give him money,  I call him The Sweeper because I was in my office and I heard the manager of the video store ask him if he would like to earn a little cash by sweeping up the sidewalk in front of his shop.   “No” came his response, “I really don’t want to work”.  I guess begging pays.

Braveheart: I was in the shop one day cleaning the display cabinet and this guy walks in.  I knew he was schizophrenic the moment I saw him.  It was a cool cloudy day and he was wearing really dark wrap around shades, when he walked his knees hardly bent, his arms did not swing, his back ramrod straight.  Not only was he schizophrenic he was off his meds.  We had the following conversation:

Me: “Hey, how you doing?”
Him: “I am Braveheart and I’m afraid of no man”


“Well Braveheart, that is good to know.  Can I help you with anything?”

All I could think of was my cousin who works with schizophrenics I really could have used a little help. I also remember the bandage on my cousins face when one of his patients punched him in the nose.

 “What type of magic do you have?”
“Magic tricks, for entertainment.  Here let me show you.”

I showed him a trick, there was no response his face never showed any emotion. He didn’t move, when he spoke only the lower part of his face moved. It was spooky.
“Is that a trick?”
“Yes, did you like it?”
“Has anyone been bothering you?”
“No, everything is fine.”
“Well if anybody does, I am braveheart and I am afraid of no man”
“You do good magic”

Months later this guy comes into the shop he introduces himself as Steve, he looks familiar, but not.  He tells me he just came in to say hello and to say he was sorry if he scared me.  He then explained that he came in earlier in the year calling himself Braveheart!

The Con:  Once again in the magic shop. This time there were two other magicians with me.  This scruffy guy who hangs around the mall comes in. 

“Do you have a fiver for five loonies?” 

Loonies, for my non-Canadian friends are Canadian dollar coins

“Yup” as I reached for the cash register I noticed he was holding his loonies like they were poker chips so I couldn’t really see them. I held out my hand for the loonies but he refused to part with them.

Him: “Give me the fiver and I’ll give you the loonies?”

“I don’t think so!” but I was curious, so I held the fiver just in front of him where he made a grab for it, at which time I pulled the fiver back and knocked his hand that held the loonies, four loonies and a washer fell to the counter. I looked at him, scooped up his money and his washer and handed it back to him while motioning him towards the door.  The other customers began to chuckle, “Dude, look around, you are in a magic shop!  Did you actually believe that was going to work?”

Of course I can’t leave good old State College out of the picture, after all, State College is called the Happy Valley.

Table Thrower:  Early in my short lived banking nightmare career I had to go stand outside the bank at a table we had set up with giveaways for returning students.  This greasy long haired freak of nature, complete with tattoos, bad body odour, scars and more than a few needle marks comes weaving up the street and of course he is heading straight for little ole’ me.

“Hey, you have to do this shit for your job?”
“Yeah pretty much”
“Wouldn’t catch me doing this shit!”
“Ahh, well, bills to pay family to feed, gotta do what I gotta do.”
“You get paid extra for standing out here with this shit, you should you know’
“Well, it just goes along with the territory, it is not so bad.”
“I’m telling you, this is just shit, shit work, shit pay, you should quit! Lets throw this table and all this shit into the street.”
“No really its fine thanks”
“Whatever but I’m telling you its shit!”

 In the end he was right.

Benny:  I know we already had a Benny, but this guys name was Benny. Everyone in downtown State College knows about Benny.  He has an orange jumper and is harmless, but crazy.  So he walks up to the teller next to me, “Miss, do you have 4 quarters?”  Katy, being new, young and naive gives Benny the quarters. Benny thanks her and walks out of the bank.  The rest of us are busy laughing.  Katy, looking at the empty lobby with that bewildered look in her eye, “But…b…but he didn’t give me a dollar!”  Yes Katy that’s why you get the money before you give the change, especially to the staggering, swill smelling homeless guy!

 And then there was David. David and I were buddies. David is also the topic of my next installment. Street Urchins: The Saga Continues.

 Thanks for reading.

Read Full Post »

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?”


Read Full Post »

A few years ago my wife embarked on a quest to have some changes made at the local SPCA a quest which turned out to be successful.  But that is not what this post is about.   During operation, ‘improve the SPCA’ my wife met a few people of like minds one in particular we will call IB.  We maintained a friendship with IB and her husband for quite some time. Over the years that friendship has drifted, again that is not what this post is about.  

It turns out that IB, like me is not from central Pennsylvania.  It turns out that IB, like me is from Canada.  It turns out that IB, like me is from Montreal Quebec.  It turns out, like me IB went to Concordia University in Montreal, not only did we both attend Concordia, we attended Concordia at the same time.  As far as we know we never ran into each other.  We certainly were never friends and never travelled in the same circles.  Yet there we were a good 13 years after our university days eating at a Chinese buffet discussing our shared experiences with animals, home, small towns and no matter how big the world can be, it can also be really small.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: