Saturday, October 27, 2007

His name is Jim...

Every morning I walk five blocks to go to work. On chilly mornings at -20C this turns into an ordeal: I feel my bones cringing and my lips getting drier with every step. I turn right, then cross the street and there he is… sitting in a stone bench, with a coffee on his hand and a cigarette on the other. I look at him with questioning eyes, and he musters a smile, waves and says “good morning”. I’m not sure how long he has been doing that, but I’ve been taking that same path for more than a year and he’s been there ever since.

Some days he is not there, and I can’t help thinking if he is ever going to come back, yet the next morning, he is sitting there sipping his coffee and waving at strangers. One day, I asked him his name, he said it was Jim and gave me a wrinkled smile - I guessed he must be at least 70 years old, but not only that, he is also one of the 3,436 homeless people in Calgary’s Downtown–only- a number that has been increasing over the last three years due to Alberta’s boom economy, making affordable housing almost non-existent for a minimum wage worker, let alone an unemployed person.

Some days I wished I could sit and joined him with a cup of coffee, but I’m always in such a rush. I feel bad for it. Homelessness is everybody’s problem.

Photo by Steven McDonald

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