"Someday's gonna be a busy day..."

Friday, 9 January 2009

Rum Raisin, Pizza and Homeless Richard

Well fellow Bloggers, I committed my first good deed of 2009 yesterday. While on a shopping spree in the city (I hate shopping and like to get it all done in one day if possible), I bought a homeless guy lunch at Subway. It's a pretty minor accomplishment, if you can even call it that, but at least I helped make one person's tummy a bit happier.

Waterloo doesn't have a lot of homeless folks and you get to recognize the ones you do see. (e.g. the Two Dollars guy, the Dreadlock guy). I've run into "Richard" before, most memorably last summer at the Gelato place. My sis was inside waiting in line with me and D was waiting outside with Neko (D disdains gelato...it's his fatal flaw). Richard was just leaving. Someone had bought him a big cone of gelato and he wore a look of absolute elation. As he was passing us we smiled at him and he thrust the cone in our faces and exclaimed, "It's Rum and Raisin! It's the best! Wanna try?"

My sister, quick thinker that she is, said, "Um, no thanks, I don't like rum and raisin." Me, I'm a bit slower on the uptake. I hate rum and raisin too, but my mind froze and I was racked with a wave of politeness. Wouldn't it be rude, I thought, to NOT taste it? So when Richard waved the cone under my nose again and said, "Oh go on, taste it," I said "Okay," and took a lick, much to the horror of my sister and later, my husband. But it made Richard grin a big semi-toothless grin, at least.

Anyways, I recognized him shuffling down King street wearing a sleeping bag yesterday. We exchanged greetings and I offered to buy him a coffee or sandwich. So we went to subway and he got their pizza (I didn't even know subway HAD pizza). Richard gently chided me when I looked skeptical about his menu selection. "Their pizza is wonderful, it really is. Plus you get to put whatever you want on it. It's a PERSONAL pizza!"

He was very articulate (despite having no front teeth) and gentle and said he used to work in the restaurant business. I had to hide a smile when he asked the lady behind the counter to please make sure to put lots of oregano and parmesan on top; Richard apparently likes his spices. He told me his favourite is curry, and he used to cook it all the time when he had a place to live.

The one thing that marred my otherwise pleasant experience was the way the staff at Subway treated Richard. Two ladies - maybe in their early 50's - were working behind the counter and they looked extremely alarmed when we came in. Maybe he goes there a lot,maybe he's given them a hard time in the past - I don't know - but when I was there, he was polite and soft-spoken. The woman behind the counter was abrupt and rude with him, barking her questions at him ("WHAT DO YOU WANT ON IT?").

It didn't seem to me that Richard made any more demands on her time than any other customer would have. For example, he asked the lady to please chop the tomatoes and onions before they went on his pizza as he has difficulting swallowing them whole; she looked at him like he'd asked her to stand on her head. She rolled her eyes, let out a huge sigh and proceeded to hack them up theatrically with her paring knife. I might have expected this behaviour from a surly 16 year old grocery clerk, but not from a mature woman at Subway.

Anyway, long story short, I filled up a Subway card with $10 (his suggestion since I don't like giving out cash), we shook hands, and I left. Richard was stuffing the pizza into his backpack as I walked out the door.

I'm not writing about this to make myself sound like a saint (cuz I ain't) or to be didactic (cuz I've walked past plenty of other homeless folks before). I just kind of felt good about Richard, and sad about the way he was treated by the Subway wenches. We don't have a lot of homeless folks that I've come across in the Kink, but I realize I've got to find some time and means to help out in my own community, where the sad, the sick and the poor aren't as easily visible. Wish me luck.


Mrs Successful said...

You'll have to tell Richard that he's famous now Kimber. We all know about him and his love for Subway Pizza.

You described the awful female server beautifully; she sounds like a Mrs High and Mighty, eh?

Anyway - I think you were a saint to have done such a nice thing for Richard and I like the fact that you shared the story with us. I feel real good knowing you right now! Thank you. xx

tanzi said...

Good on ya, Kimber! Looks we were both reminded of how lucky we are to have what we do around the same time--see my blog from the other day.

I want to go and freak on that Subway snot! Actually, you shouldn't expect that from a 16 year-old server; I think teens would be cool with Richard.

I like the folks at the gelato place. They treat the street folks as they are: human. I've witnessed this on a few occasions. They're good shits, those gelato geniuses.

Good on ya, Kimber. :) And I do remember that day--don't recall saying I didn't like R and R though; it's my fave. Richard seems sweet.

Kimber said...

Ha ha, I might just do that, Mrs. S. I don't know what he'll think though!

I am nowhere near sainthood but it does feel good to do something small for someone else.

Tanzi, you DID say you didn't like it - I swear! I thought it was awfully quick thinking of you too. You might be right about the 16 year old thing - sorry.

Susan said...

You did what the rest of us ought to do, Kimber. Thanks for leading the way.

Sweet Somethings by Lois said...

Hi Kim.
Good for you! If more people gave a hand up once in a while the world would be a much better place. Bad,Bad Subway! You should write a letter to head office about it.
Can't hurt, and might help the next guy/girl who is down on their luck.
Subway should, at the very least, give an apology for the way their employee's acted. It doesn't make a differeence if it is a francise operation or not. Bad PR is bad PR. Why is Richard different from any other paying customer? Grrr....that kind of attitude really pisses me off. I worked for five years at the Micky D's on King Street in Kitchener so I do know all about street people and peoples reaction to them.
How do thoses ladies know that Richard is not just a homeless person but may be a millionaire? Like the bible says, you never know when a stranger is really an angel in disquise.
Bye the way, Richard is right....Subway does make a good pizza.
Kim, you did good! what a great way to start your new year!