I stop in at the Tim Horton’s at Marine Drive Station. As I’m standing in line, I notice there’s a gentleman I a chair, his head resting against the stone fireplace feature, sleeping. In front of him sits the smallest size coffee you can buy, an espresso cup thimble, and an empty donut bag.
He could be just another customer, his clothes aren’t shabby, but his shoes are falling apart in a way that suggests he could be homeless. I feel empathy for him.
The woman in front of me in line obviously notices him too. I know this because she raises “The issue” with the clerk.
“You’ve got man sleeping in that chair,” she says with a tone that suggests action must be taken.
“He must be tired,” the clerk says in a cheerful and disarming tone.
“Are you going to do something about it?”
“Is he bothering you,?” asks the clerk, keeping cheerful.
The clerk cuts her off, still keeping her voice happy and non-confrontational. “Well let’s just let him rest a little while.” She says it like everyone is in agreement, and I simply smile as applause seems like it might be going too far.
The complaining woman isn’t nearly so charmed as me, though.
“Can I speak to your manager?” she asks, her tone sharp.
The clerk goes off to speak to her manager, and after about a 30-second conversation they both return to the complainer.
“What seems to be the problem?” she asks. I probably just imagine an overemphasis on “seems.”
“You’ve got a man sleeping in that chair.”
“Yes,” says the manager. “He’s tired, and the place is half empty, so we don’t need the seat.”
“He’s homeless!” the woman says indignantly.
“No,” replies the manager, firmly. “He’s a customer.”
The woman turns, and she scowls at me because I’ve got a beaming smile in the face of this act of public kindness.
I buy my coffee, and as I do, I compliment the clerk on how very understanding she and her manager are.
“No,” she says. “We just seem that way because some people aren’t.”
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