Random Acts …

I woke up this morning in a hotel room deep in the concrete heart of downtown Toronto. I swung from bed to chair and cautiously cracked open the tall thick blackout curtains. Outside my second-floor window, the corner of Jarvis and Gerrard was pulsing with humanity. Street people and office workers bumped shoulders on the crowded pavement. I rubbed sleep from my eyes and squinted into the bright morning sunlight.

Across the intersection, in the middle of the sidewalk, sat a lone wheelchair. Its occupant, a man in his eighties, put me in mind of my Dad. He was casually smoking a cigarette and seemed more than comfortable relaxing, stationary, in the midst of the morning hustle. As I watched, a younger man, long hair spilling from under a backwards army hat, stepped up holding a white two litre container of Tropicana Orange juice. He leaned close and spoke to the man, smiling as he offered him the juice, which was accepted and quickly maneuvered to a spot behind the old man’s back.

I recognized the red star on the green army hat. Gogo had bought the hat in Kingston at the surplus store on Princess Street. Once I had identified the hat, his familiar smile came into focus. I watched as he then produced what looked like a can of pop, which he also gave to the grateful wheelchair occupant.

Gogo’s brief random act of kindness lasted only a few moments. As he turned and walked towards our hotel, the wheelchair made its way along the sidewalk. As it rolled, the large plastic bottle slipped out of the chair unnoticed and landed on the pavement twenty feet behind where the chair again stopped.

A tall, silver-haired and bearded man in a well-cut grey suit appeared, smoking a pipe and walking briskly. He stopped at the orange juice and picked it up. He held it for a moment, and then turned and walked down Gerrard street, swinging the the bottle in the warm morning air.