To the Editor;
As a student of a downtown college, I see and interact with a lot of the homeless people that frequent Spring Garden Road. I give them whatever small change I can spare and will stop and talk with them in the mornings on the way to class. I have developed an acquaintance with one of the men that is often in front of Tim Horton’s on the way to school in the morning. Now, I realize some of the people that we see on the streets begging for spare change may not be quite as deserving or needy as others. I frankly find it beyond me to judge who is worthy and who I should pass by. I feel good about what I do and I don’t want to become the jury on what to give and who should have. The man that I speak with has become a little more open with me as time went by, telling me bits and pieces of his day or life. Not much, just “Hi, how are you?” kind of conversation. The other day on the way to school, I was waiting outside the coffee shop for another student and so had occasion to speak with this man, who related to me a story that began this letter. He told me that one of the downtown security guards was harassing him yesterday, telling people that the homeless man had AIDS and that the security guard “knew people that could make people disappear”. Whether or not you believe this story, imagine if you can how this man, who lives on the street, felt. The security guard had power, authority, clean clothes, and was in a better position to make threats and perhaps carry them out, than the homeless man. He told me he was so upset that he cried about the incident for several hours. At first I thought “Why are you upset, it’s just a rent a cop. What can he do to you?” As I thought about it further, I realized that the homeless man has no recourse. Most would think he was lying, and if they believed him, assuming he could get anyone of authority to listen, what would they do? Fire a man who works for a living because some guy on the street doesn’t like how he is treated? I went to class and discussed it with my instructor and several other students and decided to write a letter to the Coast magazine, hoping that maybe I could open a discussion or perhaps just inform people of what I see each day. Could you print this letter and help me help them?