On The Subway

‘This just happened.  I was on the subway to work, and a fellow steps into the car.  In a mellifluous, but loud enough, voice he announces that he recently lost his job and has medical bills to pay.  He has 2 children who are staying with relatives.  He has been looking for a new job, but in the meantime has needed to rely on handouts from strangers.  It’s a nice enough story, not too dissimilar to those I’ve heard with some regularity on the train.  Depending on the look or feel of the person, I will hand them a buck or two.  This guy looks legit.’

I volunteer at a soup kitchen, and I would estimate that the “clients” throw about a third of the food they’re served in the garbage.

  • No one ever starves in North America.

    • Kathy Prendergast

      I agree. Starvation happens in conditions of famine, when there simply isn’t enough food, or else in extremely backward societies completely lacking in any sense of neighbourly charity or altruism, let alone any kind of government social safety net. The only cases of real starvation I’ve ever heard about in Canada have been cases of domestic or child abuse or neglect, and in many of those cases it happened because do-gooder social workers were enabling an incompetent or neglectful parent, like the case of an infant that starved to death in Toronto (around 2000, I think) while he and his mother were living in a women’s shelter. The mother – who had been homeless but not abused – was persistently failing to feed the child adequately – I can’t quite remember what the exact issue was, maybe she wasn’t producing enough breast milk as often happens but was refusing to supplement with formula, or not giving it to the baby often enough even though it was given to her for free – and every doctor and social worker that saw the baby could tell it was failing to thrive but nobody wanted to be too hard on the mother or take the child away from her because she had so many “issues”. It was a horrible case.

      • I remember reading about that. Christie Blatchford. He starved to death under the eyes of a bunch of social workers. Given how incompetent those sort of people are, it doesn’t even surprise me.

        • Kathy Prendergast

          I checked some old news reports about the case; the baby had actually died in 1997 but there was no trial until 2000 (or perhaps it was just an inquiry to determine if the mother could be charged with homicide (she wasn’t) and who was culpable in the case…Catholic Children’s Aid got a beating over it. The baby’s name was Jordan Heikamp, and the case was covered at length by Christie Blatchford, a fine writer. As many observed, even though the baby and not the 19-year-old mother had been their client, social workers were more concerned with making the mother happy than the well-being of the child. She was diluting his formula with much more water than the directions said, so he was getting almost no nutrition at all. It was never really explained why she did that; she wasn’t illiterate or mentally disabled and the formula was given to her for free. She paid no attention to the fact that he slept most of the time (which starving babies do, because they have no energy) and hardly ever cried, and that he wasn’t gaining any weight. He actually weighed less when he died than he had at birth and looked exactly like a famine victim. I’ll never get over the photo of the mother at the end of the trial, with a big, happy smile on her face, being hugged by her grinning lawyer. Way to go bitch, you starved your own baby to death and got away with it. The cow has probably had (and hopefully not also killed) several more children since then.

  • Katyn

    Same here. Food is handed out free hand over fist where I live. And I see what it enables first hand. It indirectly pays for their booze, their drugs, their cigarettes, their whatever. That’s on top of government social assistance. No wonder they never want to leave the system.

    And everybody benefits on both sides of the equation. There’s a LOT of money involved here; subsidies, grants, charity. It’s easily in the multimillions in my city alone. That’s a lot of very nice salaries and benefits.

    Even the guys I know laugh at what a scam it is. They are not stupid. And they hold most of the organizations in complete contempt.

    • El Martyachi

      … legions of professional care-bears, public-sector pension funds that are among the largest concentrations of capital on the planet…

  • Maggat

    At a church near where I live it is sad to watch on Welfare Wednesday all the ‘needy’ picking up their food packages, walking around the corner, sorting through the bags, throwing out what they don’t like (on the side walk and road), then aimlessly wandering away. Disgusting. Obviously I don’t donate, I have my own family to feed.

    • dance…dancetotheradio

      I’ve got my own family to feed, too.
      I do what I can by picking up strays.

      • Justin St.Denis

        We are on the same team. As long as “strays” don’t include people.

        • dance…dancetotheradio

          My wife’s family used to pick up strays, too.
          One of them was Reggie Leach, the Riverton Rifle.

        • Kathy Prendergast

          Or cats either; I don’t think that would make you popular here. I have heard that pigeons can be quite tasty, though.

    • Ron MacDonald

      Make a video of this happening, post it on YouTube and send the link to all news outlets and the church.

      • My soup kitchen is a church soup kitchen. Everyone from the church knows what I know. The priest (Anglican) pops by every other week. Nobody even seems to think it’s worth remarking on.

        I was reading the other day… and I can’t trace this, so put it down to anecdote – that some factory workers in England in the 19th c. had never eaten meat. I don’t like the inaccuracy of that so I’ll try to track it down. These guys – the “clients” – throw out beef.

        Kate McMillan at SDA likes to say that we need a famine.

        • Alain

          I have a Catholic friend (actually more than one) who is a real orthodox Catholic and who is so disgusted with the local Catholic Church with its food bank and all the leftist infiltration of the church. He volunteered a few times at the food bank and witnessed people driving in with fancy cars he couldn’t afford along with iPhones and the rest demanding specific items. When he raised this with his co-workers and the priest, they didn’t see a problem. Long story short, he no longer volunteers at their food bank.

          • Kathy Prendergast

            Every single homeless person in Vancouver seems to have an I-Phone now. I can’t afford one myself.

        • El Martyachi

          Do you have anything more .. misanthropy-easing?

        • Kathy Prendergast

          Until the 20th century animal protein of all kinds was a rare luxury for probably the majority of the world’s people, and when they got it it was often in the form of organ meats like hearts and intestines which most of us find unpalatable today. I’ve read that English peasantry subsisted for centuries on something called “pease porridge”, basically a thick nutritious soup made from dried peas or any other beans or legumes available, and some staple grains like oats or barley. Perhaps anyone who throws away good food should be forced to live on nothing but that for a year.

  • V10_Rob

    Where I used to live, you couldn’t get a taxi on Welfare Wednesday, because they were busy making booze deliveries.

    • Katyn

      Lol. Today they all have cell phones and use Uber.

    • Alain

      That sounds like when I lived in Yellowknife and all the clients were Natives.

  • kkruger71

    This was my Facebook post back on Dec 30th, very much in line with the original article.

    Some (well let’s be honest, a lot) of people say I’m too cynical. Just a
    couple quick stories from downtown Kitchener in the last week.

    First I ran into my neighbour, the fairly seedy one, and he pulled me
    into the bar for a drink. Chose to be polite and go in with him for one.
    There were about a half-dozen people at a time taking part in a
    conversation at the bar, that switched members over the course of my
    drink to total at least 12 while they went in and out to have a smoke.
    The conversation was each of them offering their opinion and advice to
    each other as to which food banks were the best, which ones were open
    what days, and how to schedule themselves to hit as many as possible
    with the best results. Of course a lot of them were talking about how
    Christmas was a bonus time for them and where to head for as many free
    turkey dinners at different social agencies as possible during the
    “holidays”. All this while they are buying themselves round after round.

    Second, I was downtown doing a few errands when I noticed an outreach
    agency, didn’t get close enough to see which one, set up outside city
    hall. They were giving away food and clothing to all the needy downtown.
    They were doing a brisk business, with a lineup of people sifting
    through the clothes while enjoying the hot meal and getting some
    sandwiches to take with them. I missed my bus after running errands so I
    had to wait about 20 minutes for the next one, the stop I was at about 2
    blocks from city hall and just outside the beer store. During that time
    about 20 people came from downtown with their bags full of goods they
    received from the outreach workers and set them down just inside the
    door as they went shopping in the beer store. The beer store doing
    almost as brisk a business on 2-4s as the outreach workers were doing
    with their offerings.
    Now I’m not saying these are bad people or
    that “the poor” shouldn’t be able to buy things they enjoy, but these
    incidents and many other like them are the things that pop into my head
    whenever I hear people talk about the government needing to spend more
    and more money on social programs, welfare, etc, because currently they
    “don’t do enough”.

  • Waffle

    I realize this sounds hard and cynical, but I became aware of the scams a long, long time ago. However, once in a while, I have been known to dip into my purse for a loonie or two. Last time it happened was last summer. The young man gave me that old saw — he was short a few $$$ to catch the bus back home. He was nice and very polite, so I gave him a toonie.

    • Kathy Prendergast

      It was nice of you to do that, but he was probably playing you. Even the most brazen lies can be told in the nicest and politest way, and when you hear hundreds of nice polite lies as I have, they all start sounding nasty and you just start resenting the hell out of being taken for a fool.

      • Waffle

        Of course I was being played. He used an old scam and I’ve heard it a thousand times before. My point is that he was very polite. Not agressive, grovelling or sucky. Just polite. Perhaps panhandling is his way of surviving. I don’t know. How do any of us know why others make the choices they do. I could have blown him off. I could have ignored him. I had that choice. I chose to give him a toonie. Perhaps it was more about me than him. I don’t know.

  • reidjr

    The breakfast program drives me crazy this is not about people starving this is about parents who are lazy.

    • Kathy Prendergast

      Yes…the children who use school breakfast programs need parenting, more than anything else. A couple of years ago a National Post columnist, Barbara Kay, pointed out that a large bowl of cooked oatmeal with sugar and milk costs about 30 cents, if you cook it on the stovetop from scratch (instant oatmeal costs more). Rice, dried beans, and many green and root vegetables and even some fruits like bananas are ridiculously cheap these days. So lack of money to adequately feed their children is really not the issue at all. Parental stupidity, incompetence, and neglect are the issues.

  • Kathy Prendergast

    I wasn’t criticizing your choice; I have given money to panhandlers too even though I knew they were probably lying and I probably wasn’t helping them. My point is that it just get tiresome hearing the same old lies over and over again. Compassion fatigue sets in. Panhandling – at least by a healthy, fully-abled young person who is clearly capable of working – always has seemed and always will seem to me to be horribly degrading and undignified, no matter how “nicely” one does it, and it’s really hard to respect someone who obviously has so little self-respect. Sometimes people ask me what I would do in that situation, on the street for whatever reason and completely out of cash. I answer that I would go to the nearest church or Salvation Army and ask for help there; everyone on the street knows where these places are and they know you don’t have to be a Christian for them to help you.