I was on the hunt for the Summer 2014 edition of the LCBOs Food & Drink magazine. What I like about the publication is the cost (free), the gorgeously photographed recipes for food (shrimp stuffed avocado with bacon tomato vinaigrette) and beverage (watermelon cucumber refresher) selections and the menu suggestions. Our Beers & Foods of the World BBQ was a grand success. Now we’re readying for a summer brunch in a few weeks and I’m looking for new and interesting menu selections for a hot Sunday.

On the way home from work, I stopped at the LCBO on Bayview Avenue in Aurora. The racks were bare. Damn, I’d been out of town last week. Had I missed them? I know that the magazine is snapped up like popsicles on a hot day. But I had three more stores to visit before I threw in the towel and accepted defeat. Next up was the Yonge Street and Davis Drive outlet. It’s a horrible location right in the middle of the most disruptive construction I’ve ever seen. One lane each way on a major thoroughfare that now more closely resembles a third world country archeological dig. But I really wanted that magazine.

I slammed my vehicle into park and raced inside the store. At first, all I saw were empty displays. Nuts. I walked up to the lovely lady at the counter ready to ask if there was any inventory left and she simply pointed over to the left. Eureka! Stacks and stacks of crisply packaged books there for the taking. I snatched one and bolted out the door.

IMG_0717On the way to the parking lot, I passed a homeless man was seated with his back to the wall. He was pleasant looking with long greying hair blowing in a wild halo around his head. His skin was the colour of walnuts and he was wearing far too many clothes for the heat. As I approached, he held up a cardboard sign the size of a coffee table book. It read: Tell me Off, written in thick black Sharpie. That stopped me short. Tell me Off?  I was instantly reminded of how shallow and self-absorbed we are all in danger of becoming. I’d been kvetching for half an hour about a frigging free magazine. What misfortune had brought him to this spot, outside a liquor store in Newmarket? I remembered another wandering soul I’d photographed in Portland, Oregon a few years ago.

I stopped in front of the man so that he had to look up. “Very creative sign,” I said. He gave me a shy smile then looked away. I fished in my handbag and came up with a toonie. I bent closer and said it again. He held out his hand. All I could think of to say was, “Good luck.”

He smiled again and closed his fingers over the coin. “Thanks, Lady.” I wished him well on his journey and trudged back to my car, a tumble of thoughts crowding my mind. What happened to his family? Someone must have cherished him once. Then again, perhaps I was imposing my values on his life?

I tossed the magazine onto the front seat and just sat for a few minutes. In the greater scheme of things, my quest wasn’t at all important.