Staggers on city streets dilated pupils
Leaning on folks pleading for twonies
Women and seniors look away warily
Begging turns to taunting
Pedestrians shrink away
Looking for a peaceful place
Today I was walking downtown on St Catherine Street in Montreal and a panhandler was harassing people on the sidewalk, leaning in close to them, blocking their way so they could not walk and I started walking a bit slower to be closer to other pedestrians. Then I noticed he was harassing an elderly man walking with a cane. The man lifted his cane out of desperation and froze a moment telling the man to stop bothering him. I stopped walking and watched to make sure the man was safe,cell in hand ready to call 911. [I was kicking myself for not having a can of hair spray or pepper spray in my pocket]. Finally the panhandler went onto another pedestrian.
I went into the Eaton Centre and walked towards the food court and crossed the man with the cane. I told him I was happy he was able to get away from that man who was bothering him. “Oh, you saw that, did you?” He seemed pleased that he was actually not alone for those tense moments. I felt an immediate bond…older folks feeling a bit intimidated with situations due to our age and inability to run away fast enough.