Tuesday, December 23, 2003

The Christmas spirit was in my morning porridge. Rather than the warm glow promised to me by the company's advertising, I gained an aura of giving. The truth is I had been planning to do this for weeks but if the police come by I now can say it was the porridge's doing. I was all hopped up on oats. There is a homeless guy in our neighbourhood. Let's call him, 'Captain'. No particular reason, save for it not being his real name. He usually sits in front of the grocery store next to the cash machine. He's a pleasant guy. He mans his station for as many hours as I work at my trade. Occasionally, I see him walking around other parts of town. The aged homeless all have the same shuffling gait and facial expression. Their steps are deliberate and slow. Their feet barely lift fully from the ground. Their mouth is always open in awe, and their eyebrows are always trying to seek refuge beneath the canopy of grey and matted hair. Their eyes look past you. past everything. The whole expression could be measured as astonishment. Astonished they are here to shuffle another day. I don't know. I have seen Captain bandaged and bloodied on occasion. It might just be astonishment at surviving. The world kills far stronger men than him or myself everyday. I have chatted with Captain a few times. I have given him a few coins here and there. Today, I thought I would do Captain one better. Last night, I stole a plastic patio chair from a restaurant on the west end. I was on my way home. They hadn't locked it up. The idea occurred to me. I acted upon it. After my empowering bowl of breakfast this morning. I stencilled the word, 'Captain' on the front and back of the chair. I brought it over to the man himself. He was there (working even on this holiday week). I said hello and asked him how he was doing. He answered me but his gaze remained on the chair that had the same name as himself. I explained that it was for him, if he wanted it. He didn't have to worry about anyone stealing it, because the chair clearly had his name on it (maybe the restaurant should think of doing the same). 'Who's is that?' 'It's mine.' 'Does it have your name on it?' 'Yes. In fact, twice.' 'Sorry. My mistake.' He warmed to the idea. He sat down. He put his arms on the white plastic arm rests and surveyed the area around us. He looked approvingly from the new vantage point. He thanked me. Don't thank me. Thank the porridge.

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