A week or so ago, I gave a handful of money to a man who approached me on the street. He was shivering, wearing a nice backpack and some fairly expensive clothing that was obviously not designed for cold weather, and told a story about how he was a long-distance student at a local university, and had lost his wallet.

He looked like he was about to break down and cry, right in front of me. I don't think I've ever seen anyone who looked so humiliated, so embarrassed to be doing something, ever. He was from a small town, he said, and he had no way of getting back there, as his train pass was stolen.

I gave him the money, if only because I've had my own wallet stolen while travelling, and I know how hellish it can be to get back to where you live, or do anything. I couldn't imagine how hard it would've been for me if it was winter, and I didn't have a place to stay.

He asked for my telephone number, with promises that he would give me a call, and pay me back.


I don't often give money to people on the streets. Perhaps Toronto has made me kind of jaded to anyone who begs, I don't know... I gave money because it seemed like it could be a very real, very shitty situation that this person was in, and I felt that maybe a bit of kindness might pay off, somehow.

For the last week now, I've been waiting, hoping he'd call, if only to say a word of thanks... I tell myself that perhaps he's not calling because he's so embarrassed at being reduced to begging on street corners, but somehow, I don't quite believe it.