As I get closer to the group I distinguish the voices more clearly, by the slurring of their words it seems they have been there a while, but certainly not all night. They finally notice my approach and all eyes turn to me, I gulp, and smile. This is after all what I do best. I talk to strangers. Everywhere I go. Why should this be any differen? “Good morning!” I hail, “what a great way to welcome such a magnificent day! May I join you for a moment?” One of the strangers, a long-haired, unkempt man who looks to be in his sixties passes me his open can of beer, and as I take a drink his dirty face lites up like the sun, their circle opens and I am welcomed into their group. We chat a while before I continue my treck home.
* As an aside, I have spent many, many hours walking in this fair city, and talk to so many people. We have a huge homeless population, many of them indigenous and many more with mental illnesses or drug or alchohol addictions, often all of the above. I have met and continue to meet so many wonderful, sweet, kind people. As the weather improves my long walks will continue, and hopefully I’ll have many more opportunities to meet many more wonderful people.