I have a favourite Bum. He sets himself up in various locations around Vancouver’s downtown core and plies his trade, I don’t see him often just now and then. I don’t make a habit out of giving away handouts, what little money we can afford to give, we give to organized charities but I have to say I have a soft spot for this guy.
He is a bum, his words. He stands on the corner with his cap in hand and says to the passersby “Beer, beer, beer will you buy a bum a beer?” He’s always friendly, never pushy or aggressive, we have some problems with aggressive pan-handlers which isn’t cool, but he isn’t one of them. He’s not pulling a scam, there is no wife in the car who’s in labour and he needs cab fare, or his dog isn’t starving and needs money to buy him food, or the classic “I’m from out of town and I’m trying to get enough money to go home”.. he’s a Bum and he wants a beer.
He likes to shake things up for special occasions and sometimes sings songs. I have two personal favourites, the word ‘beer’ repeated to the tune of the Meow Mix jingle or his Christmas song “All I want for Christmas is a beer, all I want for Christmas is a beer, all I want for Christmas is a beer,beer,beer,beer,beer.. all I want for Christmas is a beer” (to the tune of ‘If you’re happy and you know it’) I gave him five bucks for the laugh and he told me I’m his favourite customer. I’m sure that’s his standard line. He happily headed off to the pub to have his Christmas beer. I know it’s enabling a bad habit and all that, but it’s his liver and it was Christmas.
I saw him today, standing out in the rain cheerfully greeting people who for the most part pretend he’s not there or shake their head at him and pass on by. I reached into my pocket and I didn’t find a plumb nickel, but I saw an older fellow with a kind face stop, reach into his raincoat and hand him some money. Our friend the Bum tipped his hat at the gentleman and happily walked away.
I love truth in advertising.