International Homeless Man Of Mystery

Posted: April 1, 2015 in Just A Strip Of A Lad (Telling You The Old, Old Stories You Love To Hear)

I am in Saskatoon, with former LifeFORCE team leader Sarah. She’s taking me shopping around the flashy part of town, and I have birthday money to buy Canadian clothes with. We walk past a woman, who is homeless, and a bit mental. I can tell, because she’s talking to an imaginary person in the corner of the room we’re not in.

I feel bad, and tell Sarah.

“Ah, Dan. It’s nice that you feel bad. But it’s different here to in England. Homeless people are looked after by the government. Definitely in Saskatoon anyway. Nobody needs to be homeless here.”

“Oh. Well that’s really nice. So I don’t have to worry about trying to help them out?”

She smiles.


“Nope! They’re nothing like English ones.”

I smile, and buy expensive clothes before walking home past the homeless woman waving the bags in her face.

It is a few weeks later, and I am in Regina, Saskatoon’s bossy little brother. Saskatchewan’s two big cities are like Punch and Judy, only they’re more like a bar of Mini Milk trying to batter a small cow. But Regina has one great thing. Loads of 7-Elevens, and Street Invaders co-leader Long Distance Claire-a has promised me that we’re gonna head to another one after we’ve popped into McDonald’s to get their suspiciously free coffees. I turn my head. Which I do almost every day, yet has never become my trademark.

“Hang on a sec… are you sure you want McDonald’s coffee? I mean you’ve got Tim Horton’s here!”

I open my palms towards her, and hope that she knows they too are shocked.

“Yeah. McDonald’s coffee is actually really nice. A lot better than Tim’s. See, Tim’s is actually really cheap coffee. It’s really not that nice.”

My palms squeeze into fists.

One hits the dashboard.

“Blasphemy!”

Dan…! What do you care anyways? You don’t even like coffee.”

I fall silent. Stunned. Tim Horton has lost his reputation as Canada’s own coffee-shaped Jesus. And Jesus didn’t even sell doughnuts.

Long Distance Claire-a puts the van into park and explains to me what that actually means before marching our team into their caffeinated McMosque while I decide to scope out the Burger King next door. If there’s a new McDeity knocking about, I wonder if there’s also a new Burger King of Kings. I mosey on in, and decide that it just looks exactly like an English Burger King. And that I’ve never been inside an English Burger King. I leave, and stand by a fence with my shades on and my face in the hot sun. I’m wearing expensive Saskatoon clothes, and I look good.

“Hey!”

I hear a voice calling me, but am in public, and therefore do not respond.

“Hey pal!”

I clench, before realising that this isn’t England. In fact it’s even younger than New England! It’s Infant England. And infants speak to each other all the time. I turn around and smile.

“Alright.”

It’s a homelessman. I can tell because he’s not in a house.

“Well, no actually. I’ve had a pretty rough night to be honest. I’m surprised you asked.”

Uh oh. This doesn’t sound like he’s yelled at me from across the street to compliment my style. Or any of my leg hairs. This sounds like a traditional homelessman conversation. He’s going to ask me if he can have my life savings, because he used to know a little girl who has a birthday in a few years and he can’t afford a card.

Cards are expensive!

But he’s a homelessman! He could write a message on the back of a dog! Or teach a dog to speak and say the message! He’s got the time!

I pause. And think of Sarah. Homelessmen are different here. I don’t have to help them. So I don’t have to ignore them to avoid feeling bad that I can’t afford to buy them all a house. Not even one between the lot of them! This guy’s Canadian, and probably doesn’t know the meaning of dishonesty. Perhaps Sarah was right. I smile, and decide to let my niceness out on parole.

“Well, actually I didn’t! But don’t worry about that. What can I do for you?”

“Well, I was wondering if I could get a couple bucks off you so I can get something to eat.”

Oh.

He wants money.

As if a man in posh shades and posh clothes probably has enough to give to a bloke who needs a couple of custard creams to live. But no! I will deny my English brain! I will help him! Because he’s Canadia-omeless! He might even be French-Canadia-Omeless! He’s ‘omelette’! He’s lovely! A delight! A man in genuine need of a meal.

Perhaps Sarah was right.

I smile.

I believe in meals.

“Well, tell you what mate, I’ve got a few minutes. Why don’t you come into Burger King with me? I’ll buy you some brunch.”

I smile. He is going to love this. Think how much ink he’ll save filling out a government meal application!. A brilliant saving on pens. A double whammy! I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t sell burgers either, but he’d be all over this. And he’d probably chip in for a fake McFlurry too.

“Erm. Well, actually I really just want a coffee.”

Oh.

Oh good!!!

“Oh! Well, that’s even better! You’re in luck! Because I found out today that McDonald’s are actually doing free coffees all week! I have no idea why they’re doing it, but apparently it’s better than Tim’s. All my underage underlings are over there drinking right now. Just go over there, and you can have all the coffee you want!”

I smile. He’s gonna love this. And save me a lot of money. Think how many new pens I could buy! And Jesus’d probably chip in for a sharpie too.

“Don’t worry about it, mate.”

He turns and walks away, as I watch his forlorn figure fade into the poutine landscape. By which I mean he goes and sits on the floor in the car park.

Oh.

Perhaps Sarah was wrong.

I sigh, and buy a breakfast meal before walking back to the van past the homelessman waving the bag in his face.

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