My Breakfast With George

shpping-cart.jpg I had breakfast with some guys today. It started out as breakfast anyway but due to the late night last night (in bed at 2 a.m.) I begged for brunch instead. So at 10 a.m. I found myself with a crew of 8 gathered around a too small table to have a bite. For those keeping track, I had tea, I haven’t returned to the Bean.

Yet.

Beside me was my friend George. Our previous plans to go to New York for a trip are on hold. George is 65 and he doesn’t have a passport, drivers license or any other form of I.D. that would get us across the border legally. A couple weeks ago I was talking to another friend who moved here to the Island 2 years ago. I told him I was picking some stuff up for George for Christmas, just some mits and a pair of boots, and he told me he’d heard some interesting news about my friend George. Turns out, he had heard, that he’s one of the richest men on P.E.I. He has money hidden away in shoe boxes and goes around town pushing his shopping cart and collecting empty bottles by choice. Truth is, he’s not just filthy, he’s filthy rich.

When my friend told me the news it was, and I’m estimating here, the 15th time someone has told me this about George. The truth from a friend of a friend. It’s surprising you haven’t heard about it yourself.

It’s a great deal but unfortunately for George it’s not true. His social service worker said they’ll buy him his usual Christmas present this year: can of shaving cream and some new razors. Nice. They might even get him a new pair of flannel pajamas.

Here are some true things I’ve learned about my friend George. He’s never been off P.E.I. He’s skeptical that subway trains actually exist and he thinks airplanes are the favoured mode of transport for the village idiot. He blows kisses at my wife and I don’t mind. If you tie a couple balloons you were going to throw out to his cart that he pushes around town, he’ll try to kiss your cheek. He loves sugar. He REALLY loves sugar. His father died when he was young. His mother took care of him best she could until she passed away. He loves his friend Joe and would do absolutely anything he could for him, even when Joe’s been drinking. He wears plastic bags over his socks so his feet stay dry in his old shoes. He can’t sit still for very long. He has an amazing sense of humour. He has a good singing voice. He makes me uncomfortable when he loves me back so shamelessly and unselfconsciously.

The other guys around the table were great too, each one a story and from my perspective their friendship with me makes me one of the richest men in town.

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About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in Friends, Life, love, Reflective. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to My Breakfast With George

  1. shellie says:

    When I used to work downtown, there was a man who wandered the streets daily who sounds very much like your friend George. The funny thing is that the very same rumor was said about him! Even though he was homeless and disheveled, people said he had piles of money hidden away…. “probably the richest man in town!” I think people just love to come up with these wild stories because they think it would make a great movie script or something. Or someone somewhere said, “Wouldn’t it be somethin’ if it turned out he was really the richest man in town?” And from then on it was repeated by others as fact… “Well I heard he was the richest man in town!” (Do you have an eye-roll emoticon in here somewhere?) It is a much more romantic notion to think that someday he could decide to quit being poor, go dig up a pile of money, clean himself up and start living a “normal” life …. when in reality he is completely destitute and has no way to improve his lot in life without intervention.

    You are so right that rumors of wealth actually hurt those like George, because then people don’t think they REALLY need our help. “They aren’t really poor or needy. They have plenty of money stashed away somewhere.” Handy how that relieves our consciences of having to really DO anything for them!

  2. brianmpei says:

    That’s really incredible Shellie. And you know, you should either blog or preach…that was good!

  3. john says:

    Don’t you guys remember the blind man in Springpatch who sold the pencils downtown? (He used to stand inside the entrace to the Expo building at the state fair every year and play the accordion). There was the same rumor about him. Its funny the things we convince ourselves of in order to feel good about not dropping some spare change in their jar: they are secretly rich, they’re lazy, they’ll just use it on drugs or alcohol, etc. I always believed that the most important thing is not how it will be used but the attitude and intention of the heart in which the gift was given.

  4. brianmpei says:

    Now that you remind me I do indeed. I never heard that rumour about him though. I do vaguely recall stories about someone in spfld with a closet full of cash who lived like a street person.

    I agree with your conclusion John, that INDEED is the most important thing.

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