The guy sitting in the underground path to the Manulife Center, just after our lovely lunch, had obviously been in a horrifying accident – perhaps something like an “IED”* in Afghanistan, I imagined; or a car accident that involved a fire.
Entirely covered in burn scars, he was missing much in the way of body parts including nose and fingertips, but you could see his beautiful blue eyes. He was actually wearing what looked like army fatigues, but I didn’t have the heart to ask.
I guess he in turn didn’t have the heart to speak forcefully to the people passing by – though it was painfully obvious why he was there anyway. One by one, they walked by, looking straight ahead. I stopped long enough to awkwardly search in my pockets, found a few toonies** and gave them to him. I guess he knows about his gorgeous eyes, because he opened them wide and looked up at me. “How’re you doing today?” he asked. I said “Not bad for an old lady” (my tiresome stupid joke), “how are you?” He said he had a cold, and paid me a compliment. I smiled and walked on.
But a feeling of heartbreak welled up, along with my usual sense of injustice, anger at the people who just walked by (do they think he’s getting rich?), analytical thoughts along the lines of, “There oughta be….” and “How can they….?” I feel I owe him so much more than a few loonies and a story. And then my inner voice shoots back, “It’s not about you!”
And it’s not about not walking on by. It’s more about not accepting how we create ‘young sacrifices’ like him, and then let them fend for themselves. Is that any way to thank a nice young man?
He might have been in his thirties.