What can you say about a homeless person who shields himself with an umbrella, rain or shine, day or night, everywhere he goes—even when he goes into a restaurant?
For the last few years, this balding, white-haired, elderly homeless fellow has been a fixture in the Fairview neighbourhood. He doesn’t speak to, or interact with, any other homeless people, so far as I know.
What he does do—day in, day out—is he silently pushes a full shopping cart with one hand, while holding an open umbrella over his head with his other hand.
His shopping cart is always filled with what look like possessions—sometimes topped with bags of returnable beverage containers.
When I first saw him, maybe two years ago, he was fleshy looking, if not downright fat. He has since dropped a lot of that weight, so that his clothes now hang loose on his frame.
All the time I have seen him, he has been outside, pushing his cart along West Broadway, or through the back alleys of Fairview—always with an umbrella held over his head.
On September 24, for the first time ever, I saw this gentleman actually come into the McDonald’s in the 1400 block of West Broadway. No one I know has ever heard him speak but he ordered something at the front counter. Then he sat in a corner window seat by himself.
And yes, he kept his signature umbrella (or one of them, at least) over his head the whole time he was inside the restaurant.
His idea of shelter—cone of silence—agoraphobia remedy?
Two of my homeless friends were with me yesterday to witness the rare sight. One of them had seen the fella with the umbrella pop into the McD’s a time before and told me to watch him carefully when he finished his meal.
When it came time for the fellow to leave, my two homeless friends and I watched him collect his shopping cart from in front of the restaurant and push it around the corner into an alley. To my surprise, he stopped and put away the large umbrella that he had used inside the restaurant.
Then, while one of my homeless friends exclaimed, excitedly, “See, see!”
The man unfurled an even larger umbrella over his head—one that he evidently felt was better suited to outdoor use!