Archive for the 'begging' Category

Of want and need

January 18, 2008

Bank of England

“You know that the Rogers Video store is closing, the one at up at Howard Park? Nobody’s in there most of the time anyway. ”

Folks just don’t like big-name stores on this street. Well, except for the banks and the coffee places. Everybody needs them.”

On the road

January 15, 2008

“Your face is distinctly green.”

“Someone else sid that and it’s true. I can’t keep anything down. I bought myself a nice sausage and it ended up all over the road. Could you buy me a can of stew or chili?”

“You’re kidding, aren’t you? You want chili?”

“Yup. Trust me. It’s what I need right now.”

The homeless situation

January 13, 2008

The homeless situation

Beige existence

December 22, 2007

Tony’s new coat

“A lady I know, her father died so she brought me down his coat to see if it would fit me. Nice, eh.”

John gets a home

December 18, 2007

Water drops

“Where did you sleep last night?”

“Right now, I’m sleeping down in the basement at my friend Mike’s. I’ve been doing some work for him on and off. He needs a john in his place and I found one the other day that someone was throwing out — right there on the sidewalk not far from here. The whole toilet was there, no cracks or anything. So I hauled it over to Mike’s and I’m installing it for him.”

My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends

November 13, 2007

Trojan porsche

“Phil, you should hear what happened to me Saturday night:

I was paying my respects to Silvio, the homeless guy who got killed in September down at King and Ronces, the guy I told you about and we wrote in the blog. So I got on my bike and I start coughing and coughing and coughing, you know, because of my pneumonia. Anyway, I was riding down King Street while I was coughing my ass off — guess who comes around the corner down near Dufferin? I’ll tell you who came around the corner. It was that same fire truck from 426 Division, you know the one that saved me from being run over last winter and it’s also the same one that ran over my friend a few months back. So I nearly hit this truck — but I don’t — but there’s this car behind the truck and this car is totally new, shined up and everything. Plus, believe it or not, it’s a new Porsche 911. I’m not kidding you. So I try to miss hitting the Porsche but I wiped out, into into the back quarter panel. So, of course, the guy gets out of the car, of course he’s pissed at me, and I’m telling you, he’s six-foot-something and he’s got biceps that could crack walnuts. So he looks at down me and says: ‘I know you. You’re’ So he’s was pretty nice to me considering but now I owe him $100.”

Standing up

December 13, 2006

Tony standing up

“Do you see the guy panhandling just on the corner [Tony points south, across the street]? The young blond guy with the beard. I asked him and he said that he’s got a pregnant wife and they were kicked out of the hostel the other day. Well, I checked him out and he checks out. I’ve seen his wife and she’s sure pregnant. If he wasn’t being straight up, I would’ve run him out of here. But if the guy’s for real, then you’ve got to let him be. Everybody’s got a right to eat.

“See, people don’t realize it but homeless folks need to keep up their reputations or otherwise no one ain’t getting nothing from nobody, if there’s fakes out there asking for money. If they ain’t for real, they shouldn’t be there.”

The invisible man

December 1, 2006

Tony’s not here

Tony isn’t here this morning.

It’s Buster Keaton weather — but colder. No doubt, umbrella vendors are delighting in visions of pedestrians dancing convexxedly with their soon-to-be mangles of nylon and aluminium.

I don’t know where Tony is; probably no one does. The morning weather might have kept him where he slept last night. Perhaps not. I’ve seen Tony at his post in the deepfreeze of mid-winter.

Sidewalk traffic is sparse and hurried. Given today’s inclement weather, Tony would be hard-put to collect enough for a warm bed. When I next see him, I’ll ask him about the irony.

Tony’s question about (grande vanilla) “lattes”

November 17, 2006

Tony avoiding rain at twilight

“Hey Phil, what’s a ‘latte’ ?”

“You don’t know what a ‘latte’ is?”

“Well I know it’s a coffee drink.

“Now, earlier this morning a lady comes up to me and asks me if I was spending all my money on lattes. I told her that I didn’t know what a latte was and she told me about it. So I’m asking you, do you know what a ‘latte’ is?”

“I was never embarrassed like that in my whole life”

November 11, 2006

Tony on Remembrance Day

“This morning, I was never embarrassed like that in my whole life. Me and my friend went to breakfast. I told my friend that it was no problem because I could pay for it with my 15 bucks. After breakfast, I couldn’t find my 15 bucks anywhere and I looked everywhere. I followed back my whole trail back to here [Tony’s spot on Roncesvalles Ave.] but I couldn’t find it. I nearly took my clothes off looking for it [Tony smiles]. So I had to tell the owner [of the restaurant] that I would pay him later. He didn’t have a problem because he sees me nearly every day so he trusts me. Even my friend was embarrassed.”

Tony’s cardboard sign

Letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail

November 3, 2006

My letter to the editor published today in the Globe and Mail was triggered by the eye-popping irrationality of yesterday’s Facts & Arguments essay. In summary, the offending essay observes that homeless people are the unhappy product of their own “choices”, and that a proportion of homeless people sometimes spend their hard-begged money to buy themselves fancy lattes. The author declares: “Whether right or wrong, misinformed or wishful, this is the inescapable conclusion that keeps me, and many others as well, walking right past those cardboard “Spare Change? Need Food” signs without a second thought.”

Is moral blindness a choice?

Introducing Tony

October 23, 2006

Welcome to Tony’s new blog. Tony is homeless.

This blog is — as much as possible — Tony’s, as transcribed by me (Philip). Tony lives in Toronto. Today and in the future, I will annotate (but not change) his words and add my voice when context (narrow or broad) seems to be needed.

I’ve known Tony for about 5 years. I estimate that he’s about 55 yrs old. Tony spends most days coaxing a dime or a quarter or a dollar or a fiver from folks walking by, familiar and not.

From what I can tell, Tony finances his life one meal at a time, plus the cost of a bed for the evening when he can collect enough money. Most mornings, I find him perched on a stack of milk crates, near my favourite coffee shop. Tony’s cap acts as a nest for loose change, and his small cardboard signs attempt to catch your eye and your heart. I see him most days at around 8am when he’s generally “working on” breakfast.

I hadn’t seen Tony for several days. I discover that he was in jail last week. After finding him this morning, I proposed to Tony that we start a blog with him as the prime author. Tony has full editorial control and he can review any posting beforehand if he wishes. Even though Tony had never “set eyes” on the Internet, he proposed that we should “just go ahead”.

Thus, a Homeless Man Speaks.


“I got locked up last Monday [Oct 16] because I punched the boyfriend of a woman in July [2006] butI forgot my court date [earlier in October] when I had to defend what I did protecting that woman.

“Monday afternoon I was sitting here as usual [near the coffee shop], minding my business and there were a bunch of cops cars driving down the street. It was a like a motorcade. The cops went to an apartment up the street and carried out a baby. The mother [not the woman that Tony had protected in July] had been beaten up by her boyfriend and the cops came and took away their baby. Then one of the cops walked down the street towards me and asked if I was “Tony”. He was just double-checking because he already kind of knew me. The cop gave me a bench warrant since I had forgot my court date and told me to come with him to the police station. I asked the cop if I could lock up my bike first and that was no problem.

“They all know me in the police station and the jail, so they treated me fine and I got food and everything. But I didn’t make bail on Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday. I got out on Friday [Oct 20]. I still got my orange jumpsuit [Tony pulled back his coat to display his eye-catchingly orange jumpsuit underneath]. I can’t pick up my clothes from the jail until tomorrow. But they’re dirty so I’ve got to wash them anyway. I’ve been sleeping behind bush near [an intersection in the neighbourhood]. I’ve got plastic sheets as a sort of a roof but it’s got a few holes. There’s mud and you can’t keep clean.”


PS: Your comments will get to Tony, so feel free to ask questions, etc.

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