First, there's the guy who stands outside the Tim Hortons which is next to the subway station I use for my morning commute. At this point, we pretty much just nod briefly as I pass by his location. I mean, there's just no way I'm going to give money to this same guy every single day for just standing there. I think (hope) there's an unspoken understanding here that this particular corner is packed full of brand new, parentally-funded liberal arts students who've recently acquired massive white guilt from their classes to maintain his cash flow.
Once I've got a large regular from Tim's, I hop on the subway and arrive at Ossington station a few minutes later. There's often a panhandler pacing around (or maybe just a crazy person - the bus leads straight to the mental health centre on Queen St.) asking for things. Lately, I've been asked if I can "spare some coffee." You mean, you want the rest of my coffee? My morning fuel? Which I need every last drop of? I'm sorry, but there's just no way.
It's equally likely though that I'll get asked by some random commuter "where'd you get the Tim Horton's?" as there aren't really any Timmy's near Bloor/Ossington. I don't know how many times I've had to let people down by saying "sorry, I got this over at St. George." They always look so disappointed.
Less frequently, about once or twice a month, before running into any of these characters, on my way to the Tim Hortons, I'll be stopped by a Chinese person or two with heavy accents, asking where St. George St. is so they can go protest human rights violations in front of the Chinese embassy. Those dudes are hardcore. 24/7/365, there's at least one person quietly standing outside the iron embassy gates with large, blown up photographs of horrifically beaten, burned bodies of Falun Gong worshippers. They stand there quietly, all day, winter or summer, passing out leaflets to any passers-by who'll take them.
ATTN: Toronto ex-pats: Queen St. West landmarks burn down, including Suspect Video & Dukes. Lucky for me, I use Queen Video on Bloor St. Oh wait, darn, looks like I'll have to pay my late fees after all.
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